Beyond the Tourism is my new series of articles which will focus on popular places with information useful to a tourist, only with the sense and reality of a local. I aim to also provide history and tips and tricks for making the most out of your visit!
If you don’t know who Gaudi is, about 5 minutes after stepping off the plane in Barcelona you’ll get a good idea. Heck, if you read the in-flight magazine you’ll know before you even step off! And even if you don’t know the name, you’ll certainly know the figure.
Gaudi, full name Antoni Gaudí i Cornet, is Barcelona’s most famous and notable figure. He designed or inspired the majority of the famous landmarks in Barcelona. Here’s a list for proof;
Born in 1852, Gaudi showed from a young age a great understanding of mathematics and was exceptionally talented in arts and craftmanship. This is helped to create his unique style of interesting shapes and textures, as he could easily calculate how it would all fit together and stay sturdy. Not impressed so far? Look up La Sagrada Família and click on “images” and you’ll get a better understanding.
Gaudi’s other interests and inspiration were nature and religion. It’s a weird and wonderful fusion that creates extremely unique structures.
And speaking of unique structures, Parc Güell certainly is one. Commissioned by Count Eusebi Güell (where the name comes from!) it was designed in mind for a “bohemian” village, where all the art-loving aristocrats (because it wasn’t going to be cheap) could live and mingle inside it’s creative boarders. Sadly, only two houses were finished as the project couldn’t gain enough backing and funding. Güell moved into one of them, and convinced Gaudi to move into the other. Today, Gaudi’s house is now home to the Gaudi musuem, which holds some of the furniture he designed within it. Please note you’ll have to pay extra (I believe 5 euros at the time of writing) to enter this house, as it is not included in the main ticket price.
So here’s what you need to know about visiting Parc Güell as a tourist or traveller: It can be hard to find. Seriously, whoever writes the signs to get there needs to be fired. They lead you in circles, take in into bizarre routes that confuse a non-local and can require asking for directions which isn’t always easy if you can’t speak the language or end up in a residential area with no one else around like I did.
The easiest way to get there: is to take the Line 3 to Lessops or Vallcarca. Know that it will be a 10-15 minute walk including about 700 metres uphill. There are sign posts but they can be misleading and/or confusing. If it’s a busy day you can usually just follow others in front. You will go through a busy street first, then at one point turn left and walk up hill. You’ll know you’re heading to the right place when you’re surrounded by tourist shops selling Parc Güell postcards or merchandise and find there suddenly seems to be lots of other people!
Map by http://www.barcelona-tourist-guide.com/
You can also take Bus Lines H6, 32, 24 and 92. Just check with the driver “Es Parc Güell en esta ruta?” (Is Parc Guell on this route?). If he says yes, then say “dos entradas para Parc Güell por favor!” (two tickets for Parc Güell please!). You can also say this last one when buying parc entrances.
Also, sometime in the past two years they have started to charge entrance for the main area of the park. The area is now roped off and heavily guarded, so they make sure you don’t sneak it. Walking around the park can be harder as you have to queue up and spend to get close enough to take decant pictures. Queues are long and if the sun is hot it’s tedious. To buy tickets at the bottom of the parc, near the main entrance, there are two queues; one for paying with cash and one for paying with card. However you can buy tickets on line, and they can even be purchased up to three months before! Rates change but currently for me, the most expensive ticket is 7 euros. Discounts available for disabled, elderly and children.
Most days it’s hard to get close to the famous lizard (although the Spanish/Catalans refer to it as El Drac – the dragon).
Ice cream and water are sold just outside the parc slightly more expensive then down the street. You can eat and drink in the parc, but you’ll have to keep the rubbish about you until you can find a bin later.
The parc may seem small once you’re in it, but there’s lots of places to explore and little hidden gems, and quite a few stairs to work on your thighs. There are also lots of musicians and artists placed around the parc. This creates a great atmosphere!
There are some electronic portable type toilets in certain areas of the parc, that cost money. There are also some built in ones near the upper entrance to the roped off main area and food carts. These always have impressive queues. Just know that for anything other then walking around there is probably a long queue for it. If you have children they will probably tire quickly; entertain them by telling them the history of the parc or Gaudi, detailing the lizard/El Drac or bribe them with the promise of ice cream later!
Credit to those Barcelona Bus Tours I’ve taken about 5 times with visiting friends and family, and the information I read when living in Catalunya for my sources!