Must Visit Places: Parc Güell in Barcelona

May 3, 2012 by

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

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3 Comments so far

  1. This park is really amazing. Definitely recommended when in Barcelona

  2. Ruby T. says:

    This is pretty. Is it just parkland or is there shopping too? What kind of events go on? Are there areas for children to play specifically? Have you been there yourself?

  3. liz says:

    I visited Parc Güell while in Barcelona last year and absolutely loved it (the photos in the article are mine). It is a huge public space and park with a small snack shop near the front entrance, but no boutiques for shopping (there are plenty of those on the streets of Barcelona!). There are no children-specific play areas in the park—while the park is a great place for older kids, the uneven pathways and stairs make it particularly unfriendly for strollers.

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