nUNESCO declared Barcelona’s Park Güell a World Heritage Site. It is one of the most impressive Gaudí projects in the city, and well worth the extra effort it takes to get up to the park from the city center
The park has an interesting history and was commissioned by Eusebi Güell in 1900. He and Gaudí envisioned a gated community for Barcelona’s rich movers and shakers. In 1900 the park was in the countryside, away from the hustle and noise of busy Barcelona. These days the park is within the city limits, though it isn’t centrally located. There were to be 60 houses in Eusebi Güell’s gated community, in addition to a large square, market area and other services needed to sustain the population. However, Barcelona’s elite were not interested in Eusebi Güell’s plan, and only two of the 60 houses were built. WWI and the lack of interest saw the project abandoned in 1914, and eventually in 1922 the city turned the land into a public park. Until recently it was a functioning public park, with no entrance fees. However, now tourists have to pay €7 to get in, a price that does not include entrance into Gaudí House Museum, where the architect lived from 1906 until 1925.
1. Go early
Hitting the park in the morning has a few advantages. One is that there are fewer people obstructing your photographs with Gaudí’s famous dragon fountain, and another is that it starts getting hot around 1 PM in Barcelona, especially from May to October. Wandering around in the afternoon sun in Park Güell in July or August could be a miserable trip due to the temperatures and lines. During low-season the park will be less crowded, and heatstroke won’t be much of an issue. For more information, see the opening times throughout the year.
2. Bring food and water
There are few restaurant and cafe options in the park, but what is on offer is expensive. Plan ahead and bring a bottle of water, a couple sandwiches from your local bakery and some fruit from La Boqueria Market. Have a picnic on the beautiful Undulating Bench overlooking the city.
3. Get comfortable shoes
The park is enormous and set on a hillside that can be difficult to navigate without the proper footwear. You’ll be walking a lot and huffing and puffing uphill. Wear sneakers or shoes that aren’t going to kill your feet. Some of the pathways are made of dirt, so also use footwear you don’t mind getting dusty.
4. Pack sunscreen and a hat
See tip one. It gets hot, especially in the summer. The last time I visited I got a sunburn, and it was May. There are shaded areas, but to explore the park fully, you’ll be trekking under the bright Mediterranean sunshine. Be prepared.
5. Watch your camera and wallet
Some of the trails to the back of the park, away from the main attractions such as the courtyard, houses, entrance, dragon and marketplace, can be desolate and thieves have been spotted lurking in the bushes. Keep an eye out. It’s not dangerous to wander the park’s trails, but make sure you have your purse and camera across your chest and are aware of who and what is going on around you.
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