Cheryl Trenary takes a whimsical look at Parc Güell, Barcelona, Spain
Craning my neck to look up the steep slope, I prepared myself for a hike of monumental proportions. Steps curled up the hill alongside escalators, still and silent. With the thought that they were in disrepair, I elected to climb the steps.
At the top of the hill was the prize: Carmel Hill, in which the whimsical Parc Güell is nestled. Much to my dismay, I reached the top of the climb, looked back and realized the escalators worked on demand! Had I stepped onto the first one I would have saved my legs what felt like miles and miles of climbing. My thighs, however, thanked me.
Entering the park, I gazed at buildings capped with frosting, brilliant with colorful tiles and angled walls. Walkways curved around as hideaways peeked through unexpectedly. Parc Güell surrounded me with over 100 years of brilliant Catalan ingenuity, gracing 4 square miles of Carmel Hill in Barcelona.
Conceived in 1900 as a planned community of 60 homes, entrepreneur Eusebi Güell envisioned townhouses, a lush green area and event lawn. Although a failed experiment, Parc Güell embraced the culture of Modernisme in Catalonia and today stands as a landmark of the genius of its architect, Antoni Gaudí.
As I started my wanderings on a chilled November afternoon, my fingers grazed over cool tile. The nearby wall was covered with brilliant greens, blues and yellows with patterns of flowers and leaves. Chipped and worn through the years, the beauty of these intricate designs endured.
Cresting the wall, a panoramic view of Barcelona greeted me, with two storybook lodges in brilliant relief. Bent walls, puffed trim and angled corners were a testament to Gaudí's unmistakable architecture. Known as the "Porter's Lodges," both structures teemed with pastel tiles forming a mosaic, and I couldn't help but smile as I gazed over the scene.
My next path wound through a tunnel of tilted pillars and tiny alcoves. Surprised birds vaulted into the sky as I breathed in the floral, musky scent of outdoors. Emerging into a large covered area, I gazed up to see amazing ceilings imbedded with artistic tilework.
It was almost impossible not to bump into someone as heads and cameras tilted upward to capture the designs. The walkway ahead embraced tiled sculptures, adding to the whimsy and immersing me in an art installation that demanded a pause to reflect.
Continuing my stroll, salmon-colored walls rose into the air before me, surrounded by black, ornate wrought iron fencing. Peering through the fence I saw the whimsical detail of the Gaudí House Museum. Queuing up in line to enter the museum, the murmur of guests enthused to be experiencing such a historic, yet fun place on a crisp afternoon swirled through the air.
Originally the home of Gaudí, the interior of the museum did not disappoint. No room was left without a touch of the distinct Gaudí flair; even the furniture, designed by the famous architect, was curved and mischievous. Walking over ornate tile floors, light glowed from warm fixtures guiding guests through the house.
Emerging into a tiny courtyard, I wandered toward the exit of the park, reluctant to leave.
Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 the park is open for residents and tourists alike. Although unable to attend an event during my visit, Parc Güell vibrates throughout the year with concerts, dancing and festivals.
Tickets are 10 Euros, with children's and seniors' pricing available.
- Story and Photos by Cheryl Trenary
To enjoy Parc Güell, CLICK HERE to go to the official website.
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