Barcelona’s Park Guell: An Unexpected Favorite

If you’re into architecture even just slightly, you’ll be able to appreciate the many astounding offerings Barcelona has available. Today, we’re going to focus on architect/artist Antonio Gaudí’s Park Guell because, really, it deserves its own post.

For me, Barcelona is easily ranked in my Top 3 Cities so far. This morning, I was thinking about some of my favorite places in all my travels and what about those cities or towns made me love it. I will admit, there is plenty of the world left for me to see with new eyes but so far, Barcelona is highly ranked.

If you’ve been there, I wager that you can easily agree with me on this. If you’ve never been to Barcelona, this is one of those “Things to Do in Barcelona.” Believe me, it’s on everyone’s Top 10 for a reason.

Now, before my trip to Barcelona several years ago, I didn’t really see anyone offering any information or photos of the park that didn’t involve the benches and the lizard (others call it the salamander; officially, it’s “El Drac“). Although I really like the benches and the lizard, there is definitely more to appreciate. I am grateful I went.

Barcelona's Park Guell: An Unexpected Favorite

Arriving at Park Guell

I woke up only slightly interested in going to this Catalan park. I knew there were going to be pretty mosaics but besides a leisurely stroll, I couldn’t understand why everyone was all about Park Guell. Sure, it’s on the Unesco World Heritage list but how worth it will a park actually be?

Getting off the charter bus, our feet created a wave of soft crunching sounds as we walked from the pebbled lot to the entrance. I noticed people in wheelchairs taking a different route to get in.

As it turns out, people who are fully bound to wheelchairs can only really access the top level and the bottom area where the grand staircase is located. If you have a few people with endurance for tons of stairs everywhere, you could experience the second level but I still wouldn’t recommend it.

One of the first sights of Park Guell

Park Guell: The Mood Changer

However, my mind was more concerned about the fact that I could feel my hair beginning its own journey into massive puffiness. This, of course, made me annoyed and a bit insecure about my appearance. I was just sure people were going to point and stare at what had to be an unkempt mess.

Luckily, I made it through the entrance unscathed and without a single glare from a fellow tourist. That’s when I saw my first hint of something more – an enormously tall stone walkway. It was intriguing. It made me want to explore further. All of the sudden, I no longer gave two flips about my unruly puff of hair.

Along with the intrigue of the unusual structure laid out before me, this lovely musician plucked out a dreamy tune to place my mind in a more calm state. I quietly thanked her for her work.

Wanderlust Conqueror finds a harpist in Barcelona's Park Guell
As I made my way through the park, I came across her soothing music – perfect for enhancing the mood of the day

From Residential Development Flop to International Attraction

When groundwork began on Park Guell, it was originally intended to be a subdivision for the wealthier citizens of Barcelona. There was proper thought put into making this area livable and inviting to potential home buyers.

Unfortunately for Eusebi Guell and Antonio Gaudí, the extravagant artistic residential development fell through on Carmel Hill. Perhaps it was too far away from the active city life. Possibly, there weren’t enough shops available nearby. Maybe they were concerned about having a stable water supply so far up the steep hills. For all I know, Guell didn’t hire the best PR and Marketing agency.

Park Güell's Pink Show House turned Home

Gaudi’s Show Home

Shortly after passing by the musician that helped me calm myself, we found a whimsical pink house. As it turns out, it was the original show house, aiming to entice people to buy a hillside home. Due to the ill-fated residential venture, Gaudí purchased his first and only house – where he lived alone for 20 years. Now, the salmon-colored house is the Gaudí House Museum and its visitors can tour the house to see how the famed architect lived.

Happily, for us, Gaudí and his team took special care on creating the public spaces prior to focusing on creating houses on the designated triangular plots. He designed water systems from the highest places of the 40 acres downward. It’s similar to the ancient Roman aqueducts. Throughout the park, you can spot interesting ways he managed to make plumbing aesthetically pleasing.

Slithering mosaic benches of Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain
Don’t you just adore the flow of the famous mosaic benches of Park Guell on the top level?

Cheerfully Exploring

Following along with the tour guide, we made our way to those slithering benches of the public square everyone focuses on when they return home with their stories to tell. I finally saw and understood the over-promotion of this area.

Although you can’t really tell from the above photo, any traveler can get spectacular views and photo ops of the rest of the sprawling city below near the sea. Fortunately, there is ample space to craft your next best photo and make all your friends and family members back home jealous.

Park Guell, Barcelona, Spain - 3 separate levels of the park from above
View from the top of Park Guell – Notice the 2 levels below it. Now, did you even pay attention to the rain spout to keep water from becoming stagnant behind the mosaic benches? Pretty neat, huh?

I’m a bit nosey curious about things, so of course, I had to know what I would be seeing below us. Clearly, heights don’t really bother me too much since I took it upon myself to look over the edge of the benches. Hey – don’t roll your eyes! It’s not three standard hotel floors, okay?

Apparently, there’s quite a bit more to be seen. However, we weren’t entirely ready to go directly below the public square with the slithering mosaic benches.

Gaudi's Stone Pathway in Park Guell
This stone walkway was inspired by nature. Gaudi wanted to make them resemble the trees nearby.

Not going to lie about it, I really enjoyed going under the stone trees. They were unusual and provided a nice break for my eyes from the brightly colored mosaic tiling of the benches. Well, that and it was 10 AM with sweltering heat temps already in the 90°F range by this point.

Barcelona, we could have really used a bit more breezes from the seaside. Just throwing it out there for next time I come for a visit.

Solo percussionist using his hands at Park Guell
He was one of my favorite musicians I came across at Park Guell

Rare Musical Instrument Sighting

You can find many musicians throughout the park. I got lucky seeing the man in the photo above. This unusual instrument, the Hang, was developed in 2000 CE and is a rare find. Each pitched percussion instrument is handcrafted and can cost up to $3,500.

Unfortunately for percussionists, the creators of the Hang stopped production on them in December 2013. PanArt is still providing other new instruments but unfortunately, you won’t find many of these out and about.

Remember me telling you how moody I was in the beginning? Well, this man enhanced the park’s surroundings with his warm and nearly ethereal tappings upon this Hang. If I had realized just how truly rare they are, I would have taken video to share such exquisite sounds. Since I was silly and didn’t, this guy can give you a great idea of what I heard. Talk about wanting to keep a person exploring!

Drain System from the top level of Park Guell
Remember that downward view from the top? If you look at the lions’ mouths, this is where the water is carried out from the mosaic benches

Second Level Beauty

We made our way down the stone stairs to the second level. I really enjoyed the contrasts found throughout the park, such as the mosaic benches above on the almost-medieval styled platform holding it in the air (as seen in the photo above).

Not that I would wish for rain or anything, but I am still curious as to how well the drain spouts within the animal mouths work for the platform? I mean, it’s been over a hundred years.

Wanderlust Conqueror enjoys the many musicians found in Park Guell, Barcelona, Spain
This musician found a perfect nook to provide shade from the summer sun as well as naturally amplify his vibrant music

It seemed that no matter where a person went inside Park Guell, music was always nearby with the many talented artists providing free music. Most were showcasing their CDs for sale.

Seriously, this park has a knack for getting you into a more joyful mood. At the very least, your blood pressure will level out and you’ll be calm again. Worked like a charm on me!

Park Guell's Laundry Room Portico on the second level
I love the ocean wave walkway found on the second level of the park

To our right at the end of the stairs was the Ocean Wave walkway (well, that’s how I describe it). However, others know it as the “Laundry Portico” since that’s this section’s official name.

I kind of like the snakes on the stone “tree trunks” near the laundress. It’s almost as if they’re curious as to what you think you’re doing at their home. Or maybe they like sniffing you as you walk by. Okay, see, that’s why people think snakes are creepy.

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Domed mosaic ceiling of the Hypostyle Room in Park Guell, Barcelona
The Wanderlust Conqueror’s favorite spot at Park Guell in Barcelona: The Hypostyle Room

The Hypostyle Room

Slinking away from stone snakes and ocean waves, we come to my favorite area in the park: the Hypostyle Room.

As a way to sell the residential plots, the hypostyle room is designed to be an open-air market of sorts for the new residents of the hillside subdivision.  It’s located immediately under the public square and meandering benches.

The eighty-six columns are almost 20 feet high and just over 5 feet in diameter. Needless to say, I couldn’t pack in all that glorious work into one photo. I decided to make a mini-collage. You’re welcome.

Park Guell's Hypostyle Room Open Air Market in Barcelona
Due to the great acoustics created by the domed ceiling, another musician found a prime location in the Hypostyle room (as seen in the top left corner)

See? Isn’t it just spectacular? To me, the hypostyle room is aesthetically dreamy and well thought out by its designer. Those big beautiful discs represent the seasons.

I didn’t include two of the season discs in my photos but yes, there are four. In addition, there are 14 smaller discs near the seasonal ones. These smaller discs symbolize the lunar cycles within the seasons. I am also very fond of the octopus tentacles, which I included in the second photo on the left within the collage. It’s strange but adorable.

El Drac, the mosaic Salamander Lizard at Park Guell's grand staircase
El Drac, the Salamander Lizard at Park Guell’s grand staircase

Onwards to the Grand Staircase!

The first level entrance is where you’ll find the extraordinary steps of Park Guell. The staircase boasts four levels of steps before you find yourself back up to the hypostyle room.

Consequently, if you are completely wheelchair bound, don’t expect to see much of the second level. Even the greatest strength and endurance trainers would have problems getting wheelchairs up that many stairs.

Park Guell's Grand Staircase, the caretakers house, and one of the fountains on the steps
What you can expect to see on the bottom level of the park

The good news is, that if you find yourself “stuck” on the main entrance level, there are plenty of things to see. You can pay about €6 to tour the Gaudí House Museum. The “Gingerbread House” with the small cross is now a gift shop.

If you’re interested, here is the official website for buying tickets to the house. I took the liberty and linked you on the proper page to immediately buy. Don’t worry, I’m not getting a commission for this. I just like to make things easy for my awesome readers (that’s you, by the way)!

I hope this article on Park Guell has proved to be useful for your planning needs. If so, I would really appreciate it if you shared the love by putting this on one of your public Pinterest boards or post to Facebook or Twitter. Thank you so much for reading my post!

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46 thoughts on “Barcelona’s Park Guell: An Unexpected Favorite

  1. I had no idea you could tour Gaudi’s house! I love your writing style – makes me feel as though I’m right there with you. It’s fantastic that there are so many musicians there to make things lively!

    1. I know! If I had more time when I went, I would have definitely taken the tour of his house! I loved all the musicians being there! So relaxing!

      And thank you for enjoying my writing style! I was concerned I would come off as boring to everyone else! 🤣😂

    1. It really is! Barcelona has fun tapas bars and a fun night life. You can also visit the Olympic stadium; it’s huge! The Gothic quarter was also a cool place to check out if you have the time! I hope you have a fantastic time there!

  2. Wow! Well this will be on the list next time I’m in Barcelona. Thank you for mentioning wheel chair access. As an able body, I don’t always think about this but it’s important to acknowledge. Gorgeous photos!

    1. Yes, definitely make time to visit if you can!

      Agreed on wheel chair access: I haven’t seen a lot of writers mention it in their travels unless they’re mobility limited. As someone who grew up with an uncle who was wheel chair bound while alive, I remember how limited his options seemed at the time for his own travels. Hopefully one day, they can do some minor adjustments to allow for greater access. Time will tell!

  3. My husband and I have been talking about going to Spain since 2012, but STILL haven’t managed to get the timing and budget worked out (something else always comes along!). I will get there one day (soon!) and Barcelona will have to be on that list–Park Guell looks incredible!

    1. Oh, definitely take the time to go! It was the best idea I ever acted upon. Amazing food, beach town, lots of cool nooks and crannies to explore within the city, and lots of shops to haggle for your next souvenir! 😄

  4. The Hypostyle Room is pretty! I also like the mosaic benches, grand staircase. Love cool little places like this. Thanks for showing us this park and will definitely check it out on future visit to Barcelona 🙂

  5. I had no idea that Park Guell was intended to be a subdivision for the wealthy.. I guess I never put much thought into it pasts but this place definitely knows how to charm with its uniqueness and it easily became one of my favorites in Barcelona.

  6. Wow loved this article and makes me really want to visit Barcelona. Thanks for sharing your experience, and I’m definitely saving this article for future reference.

  7. Exciting read! Barcelona is definitely on list of places i want to travel to.Really looking forward to getting there!

  8. My best friend’s daughter spent 6 months studying in Barcelona and fell in love with the town. In fact, she’s thinking about moving there after graduation. Which means, my husband and I would have a great excuse to visit. If we’re every lucky enough to go, I know we’ll be visiting Park Guell! x

    1. Barcelona is an amazing city! I could easily go back yearly! Haha!

      Lucky you that you will have someone already over there! Fantastic way to save money! 😀 Have her take you to a Tapas bar and buy her meal as a thank you! It’ll go a long way! 🙂

    1. Thank you! Park Guell is fantastic and you can learn many interesting things if you hire one of their tour guides. It really enhances the understanding of this vibrant place. 🙂

    1. Please do! The mosaics are outstanding! I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the stone architecture as well. It’s one thing to see it in photos and another to get to see it in person. 😀

    1. Yeah, Park Guell definitely seems like a hidden gem of sorts since it’s not directly in the city. I think that is what helps make it so enchanting, especially if you need a chill day on your city-stay vacation! 😀

    1. Totally! And thank you for popping in to read this! 🙂 I hope your cousin enjoys her trip to Spain! The city of Barcelona is loved by so many the world over – I’m sure she’ll enjoy it! 😀

  9. This architecture is simply stunning! Its so nice to see every building has its own unique character top it. Great photos as well, you really captured the moment 🙂

    1. I hope you get to start traveling soon too! Barcelona is such an amazing city and I just adore Park Guell, so of course, I’m wanting you to go see the place for yourself! 😉 If you enjoyed the architecture of Park Guell, you can find Gaudi’s stylings throughout the city — worth the venture out there! 😀

    1. Thank you! The Hypostyle Room has my heart! Others fawn over the benches on the top level, but I can look up at the cool interesting designs of those discs! Hope you get to see it in person one day! It’s definitely worth seeing at least once! 😀

  10. In March, we are going on a family vacation with our adult daughters…and they chose Barcelona as our destination. I am going to share this post for them to use in planning our adventures. I love the pictures and details you provided!

    1. Oh, that’s going to be a blast! Barcelona is family friendly but it’s even better when all the family members are adults! 😀 Park Guell is a fun daytime activity. If your family does end up at the park, get the tour guide – it really enhances your experience and understanding of the place. 🙂

    1. Thank you! It was definitely a challenging decision on choosing between all my photos! Haha! I think you’ll enjoy Barcelona! It’s a great seaside city that has more to offer than just a beach! 😀

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