Have you ever wanted to take a look inside Park Güell? It may not be a ‘hidden hotspot’ or underrated attraction in Barcelona, but some iconic monuments deserve their superstar status. I would say that Park Guëll is one of those. For cetain, it is a spectacular artwork that you can’t find anywhere else. If, for some odd reason, you haven’t heard about it yet, I’ll quickly explain: Barcelona’s iconic Park Guëll is a large public park in Spain. The park’s buildings and gardens were designed by none other than Antoni Gaudí, who was the most well-known architect of Catalan Modernism.
A Look Inside Park Güell
The park officially opened its gates in 1926, but didn’t become a public garden until later on. But when it did open its gates, the park quickly gained a worldwide reputation. Park Guëll has been an official World Heritage Site since 1984. And to this day, the park holds the status as one of Gaudí’s masterpieces. Unsurprisingly, Park Guëll was the first stop during my own escape to Barcelona!
Cityscape Panoramas from the Main Terrace
The most eye-catching feature in the park is the main terrace and its curving bench. The large terrace overlooks the Barcelona skyline and Balearic sea in the distance. The bench has the shape of a sea serpent and is one of the best pieces to admire Gaudí’s famous mosaic creations. The mosaic compositions have many different motifs that depict Catalan nationalism, religious mysticism, and ancient poetry. Do keep in mind that access to the main terrace requires a special entrance ticket.
Inspiration from Ancient Egypt in the Sala Hipóstila
The Sala Hipóstila or Hypostyle Hall supports the main terrace with its robust columns. You can reach the Sala Hipóstila by descending the steps on either sides of the terrace. A hypostyle hall was an important architectural feature in ancient Egypt where religious rituals would take place. The hall’s famous ceiling mosaic by Gaudí was in restoration, so, unfortunately, I did not get to see it that day.
El Drac: The Mosaic Mascot of Guëll
Gaudí’s mosaic work is a principal feature of the park. The central and most popular location in the park is this multicoloured mosaic salamander. This creature also has a playful nickname that’s easy to remember: ‘el drac’ (the dragon). Unfortunately, some silly criminals vandalised the drac in 2007 (poor schlump). Thankfully, the mosaic mascot has since been restored to its former glory. The salamander also seems to double as a slobbering kind of fountain, as you may notice by the slight trickle of water.
The salamander is located in front of the Sala Hipóstila and faces the main entrance. Sticking your hand in its moist mouth probably won’t hurt (much), but it is strictly forbidden to climb the dragon! I witnessed how a feisty boy was nearly dragged away by one of the guards.
The Gaudí House Museum
Park Güell starting its life as a housing development, but it later transformed into a municipal garden. After the construction of only two houses (that he didn’t manage to sell), Gaudí decided that Park Guëll should become a public space. He himself then decided to buy one of the houses and lived there until 1926.
That house is now the Gaudí House Museum, which exhibits a collection of Gaudí’s furniture designs. If you happen to be a big Gaudí fan, give it a go! Otherwise, save yourself the time and money by strolling through the upper areas the park (it’s free).
Admiring the Grand Main Entrance
The terrace, hypostyle hall, and salamander together form Park Güell’s recognisable face, as viewed from the main entrance. The main entrance now only functions as an exit for the paying visitors of the park. But it is still an iconic sight that many will recognize around the world.
How to Get to Park Guëll in Barcelona
Yes, Park Güell is a very popular tourist destination, so I definitely advise you to visit the park early in the morning. The easiest way to reach the park is to take the subway, get off at Lesseps or Vallarca, and follow the signs.
You will need to pay an entrance fee to see Gaudí’s most iconic works, like the main terrace, Sala Hipóstila, and salamander. However, the surrounding areas of the park are freely accessible. When you stroll around inside Park Guëll, ticket or no ticket, you still get to enjoy wonderful views of the city centre and sea shore.