Perched on a hill, overlooking the hustle of the city, sits Barcelona’s favorite haven. Designed by famed architect Antoni Gaudí, Parc Güell offers a respite for both residents and visitors.
Covering several acres north of the city center, Parc Güell is filled with serpentine pathways, colorful mosaiced surfaces and picturesque vistas. Step through the main entrance in the Carrer d’Olot for immediate views of two gingerbread-style gatehouses or opt instead to enter via the south side of the park to ramble along terraces fringed by Mediterranean foliage.
A serpentine bench, said to be the world’s longest, snakes its way around the perimeter of an elevated square near the front of the park.
There’s no denying the parks whimsy, but a closer look reveals Gaudí’s deep-rooted nationalism and respect for the history of Catalonia. Symbolism is everywhere, from the toadstool chimneys on the gatehouses (mushroom gathering is a national pastime) to the Doric columns in Sala Hipóstila (the design of the would-be market space is a nod to Barcelona’s Roman foundations).
Parc Güell’s inspiring landscape makes it a natural meeting place for artists and musicians. Come on a summer day to listen to acoustic flamenco or join an impromptu jam session.
Looking for more ways to relax? Stretch your legs by meandering through 2 miles of manicured walkways, or find a quiet spot to curl up with a book. But don’t leave without paying homage to the mosaic-covered lizard statue situated on the front steps—he’s considered the park’s mascot and an unofficial symbol of Barcelona.
Parc Güell is open daily and is free to enter. Planning a visit? Check out our Barcelona city guide.
photo credits: Liz Behler