October 2, 2007

Morning in Park Güell

Our third day in Barcelona was a very short one. We had a plane to catch early that afternoon, so we got up and going rather early. Where were we headed?



This Park was assigned to Gaudí by his faithful patron, Eusebi Güell. It was meant to be a private urban development in the style of the English gardens that were popular at the time. Today, Park Güell is a short metro ride followed by a fifteen minute walk away from the center of Barcelona. Back in Gaudí's day, it was a much longer trip.

The distance from the city center caused the project to fail. Plots were meant to be purchased by individuals who would then hire an architect to build their estate. Unfortunately, only two of sixty-two parcels were sold. Luckily for us, Gaudí was able to finish his work on the public areas despite the lack of interest.

The entrance is flanked by two small buildings. The one on the right would have served as the porter's lodge:

The one on the left was designed to be the area's administration center:

Both evoke memories of the Gingerbread House from the Brothers Grimm fairy tale Hansel and Gretel.

We walked from this entrance towards the stairway immediately in front of us. This set of stairs leads to the Hipóstila Room, which is full of columns. On the way, we passed what is probably the most commonly known symbol of the park today, the lizard fountain:

At the top of the stairs is the Hipóstila Room, commonly referred to as the Hall of 100 Columns (although there are in fact only eighty-six of them). Each column is supposedly slightly different and each was designed to carry water through a central pipe to a reservoir below. In this way the Hall serves as drainage assistance to the plaza it supports above.

Where there are no columns in the hall, round ceramic collages are present as false keystones within the vaults of the ceiling. These were created by Joseph Maria Jujol, one of Gaudí's preferred disciples who used ceramics and other unused materials in his creations.

In the areas to the left and right of the Hall of Columns, there exist some examples of common natural occurences (waves, caves, trees, etc) that are made out of rocks. This is where we could really see how Gaudí architecturalized nature in Park Güell.

An Ocean Wave:

A Cave:

Up above the plaza: Palm Trees:
(I love how he emphasized his rocky palm trees by planting real ones directly above them.)

Perhaps the most fabulous part of the park - and I could be wrong since we didn't see the whole thing, nor did we go into the Gaudí house or any other building - is the plaza with its serpentine seating.

The collages on the seats were also done by Joseph Maria Jujol and they are fantastic. The park is definitely a place for people of all ages. If we ever make it back to Barcelona, we will spend the good part of a day here exploring the place. How could we not, when the plaza is so inviting?

Hasta pronto,
~ CC

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