A Guided Tour of Park Güell with My iPhone

An abstract wonderland of colour, creativity and imagination, Gaudí's Park Güell was top of my list for touristy outings in Barcelona. And it certainly did not disappoint.

Costing just 7€ for the Monumental Zone (the main part of the public park), I entered from Plaça de la Natura. Using the Park's free app, fully functional without internet (hallelujah), my iPhone and I went on our own private tour round the park. With a recommended route, interesting information and old photographs to enrich my visit, it was incredibly user friendly. Let me take you on the little tour I walked myself. Prepare for lots of photos.

Welcome to Park Güell, the estate that the industrialist Eusebi Güell commissioned from the architect Antoni Gaudí. Building work started on it in 1900 and continued down to 1914. When it did not achieve the expected success as a residential zone, Barcelona City Council acquired it and, in 1926, turned it into a public park. The UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1984.
 - Park Güell app

Entry from Plaça de la Natura

Originally built for open-air shows and social events in the 1900s such as sport, garden parties and traditional Catalan sardana dancing, the Nature Square is a key attraction of Park Güell thanks to its colourful bench providing a great viewpoint of Barcelona. At this point in my visit, I was astounded by how massive the Park was and couldn't stop photographing all the different pretty tile designs. The pink ones were definitely my favourite.

Portico of the Washerwoman

This portico takes on the shape of a giant wave supported by the angled columns. One of the columns holds an intricate sculpture of a Washerwoman as you can see, hence the name. I also spotted a noticeable shape on another column which looked to me like a very tall stretched pineapple. I then read the guide and realised it was created to be a normally-proportioned palm tree. Lol.

Just walking underneath this combination of nature and art felt amazing and slightly overwhelming. But in a beautiful reassuring way.

Ramp and Casa Larrard

Continuing on from the Portico, I was met with this whimsical structure . The dual-height ramp provides a functional descent to the next part of the park whilst retaining the playful style that makes Park Güell so unique. A mixture of the colour, shapes and texture delightfully reminded me of honeycomb. Then again, maybe I was just hungry.

Entrance and Porter's Lodge

On the left of the main entrance of the park, you will see the very tall Porter's Lodge. The outside, roof and tower are decorated with the tile-shard mosaic technique seen on the bench. Such a playful building. The design reminds me a little of Hansel and Gretel which I'm sure had a slight influence on the design of the whole park, if I remember correctly. It's like something from a fairytale.

Casa del Guarda (The Warden's House)

To the right of the main entrance, the Warden's House sits prettily. Noted as a more modest piece of architecture by Gaudí, I was still in love with it. It is just like a gingerbread house, but a tad bigger. Just a tad. Isn't that roof stunning?!

Monumental Flight of Steps

Imagine entering the park from the main entrance and being met with this view. WOW. Just wow.

Up the steps, there is plenty to take in. A fountain featuring a snake's head in front of the Catalonia shield is colourful and prominent. Behind, a dragon or salamander is also bold with the park's signature tile design. I discovered the dragon or salamander is often used in architecture in Barcelona, as it represents the dragon defeated by Saint George, the patron saint of Catalonia, and is now a motif of Barcelona.

Hypostyle Room, the Outside

The Hypostyle Room is an area covered with 86 impressive columns below the Nature Square. You may see that the outer columns are angled, this is partly an aesthetic choice but also functional, to allow rainwater to filter through to a large underground tank. Pretty cool huh.

Hypostyle Room, the Interior

Inside the Hypostyle Room there is lots for the eye to take in. Three areas of open space without columns were created to allow room for markets. The ceiling is covered in domes, something I have never seen before. Beautiful tile-mosiac features however stole the show for me with bright colours and fun shapes. A photographer's dream room!

Austria Gardens

Initially used as a plant nursery, the area is now a lush colourful garden. The name is due to the donation of trees from Austria in 1980. I decided this would be the perfect spot to relax and read my book and luckily managed to grab a bench in the shade. I spent a good 40 minutes just sitting reading, feeling relaxed and not rushed at all, despite the park being fairly busy at that time. With such gorgeous natural surroundings, it's easy to forget you're in a busy city.

If you're ever looking for an escape from the big city life, Park Güell is the dream. Perhaps try and pick a time when it will be less busy, however I still enjoyed my visit and will be back again before I leave Barcelona for sure. And since it was open from 8am to 9.30pm that day, I have no doubt it does have quieter periods. I managed to spend just over three hours wandering, reading my guide app, taking in all the original architecture, photographing and reading alone. So whether you visit with company or just your iPhone, Park Güell is a beautiful place to escape from reality for a few hours and really relax in a fairytale environment.

Have you been to Park Güell, what did you think? Any recommendations on where I should visit next in Barcelona?

P.S. what do you think of my new blog design??

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