“Originality consists of returning to the origin. Thus, originality means returning, through one’s resources, to the simplicity of the early solutions.” Antonio Gaudi
I wish I could tell you that yesterday Gaudi’ed me all out but sorry there is still more to go! After my early night, I was up at the crack of dawn wandering the streets of Barcelona in search of a coffee (minus the cinnamon) and a pastry. This was the first holiday where I fully embraced the joy of wandering, I had nowhere to be, no one to meet, just me and anything my heart desired. I found a little coffee shop relaxed in a window seat and watched the world go by waiting for the bustle of the morning commuters to start. As the streets began to fill with people the grey skies from yesterday began to lift exposing a beautiful blue sky and I knew exactly where I wanted to go so I jumped on the metro and headed to Parc Guell. I fully realise and fully embrace what I am about to say but I bloody love a good transport system! Even more so when it is cheap! I got a 72 hour transport pass which worked on the metro, buses and trains throughout and extending beyond the city for £22. Compared to the London underground it was an absolute bargain not to mention on time and not overcrowded!
As well as fully embracing my love for good public transport I also embrace my love of colourful fashion and basically wearing what the fuck I like! Wearing not only clashing colours but clashing prints I felt like a little rainbow in a sky of all grey. Seriously I think I was the only person in the whole city that wore any colour, yes I did get a lot of funny looks but who couldn’t be happy in this outfit! Also, the top is a mini dress from George at Asda that I just tucked into my floaty knee length skirt!
Morning view over the city, one thing I only got to grips with in the last few hours of my trip was where everything was, I kept forgetting about Barcelona having a beach I also kept getting lost because I seemed to have left my sense of direction back in England. But how perfect is this view possibly one of the best views in the city! And despite being in a city I felt all alone (in a good way) for a second I could have been enjoying a walk through the countryside and then a tourist came and ruined my peace.
The park is free to walk around it is just the Monumental Zone and Gaudi’s House that you need tickets for of which spaces are limited, I would highly recommend booking before you visit as its a bit of the way out of the main part of the city. I managed to book tickets while on the metro that morning for the first opening slot.
Never intended to be a park, Park Guell was touted to be a Utopian dwelling in the middle of a park. Eusebi Guell, a wealthy industrialist hired Gaudi to bring his vision to life. Gaudi worked on the project for 14 years until the Count died in 1914 and his heirs decided to stop the project as not even a single house was sold. In 1922, the city of Barcelona bought the half-built residential complex and converted the 17-hectare area it into a public park by 1926. Since then the popularity of the park has been on the rise, the authorities initially divided the park into two zones and by October 2013, the monumental zone was restricted by ticket.
Gaudi not only managed to bring a fairytale to life with his architecture he also invented Trencadís. Trencadis is a mosaic created by small pieces of broken ceramic. The use of this technique is almost unanimous throughout the park. The genius architect effortlessly involved his inspiration for nature, everywhere. From the fluidity of the design to their structure, from sculptures to motifs, that allowed this concrete architecture to stand as one with nature. Animals such as salamander, snake, octopus, and lions are incorporated at various junctures by using trencadis, while flowers are introduced via various motifs spread all across the park.
Originally designed in 1907 as the marketplace of the estate, the Hypostyle Room is made up of 86 columns which the roof rests upon. ‘Hypostyle’ itself means ‘under pillars’, and the design is used for the creation of large constructions, such as public buildings, temples and palaces. The pillars present a height of 19.68 feet (6 metres) and a diameter of 3.94 feet (1.2 meters), and are of the Doric order in an octagonal shape. The ceiling is the focal point of the Hypostyle Room, showcasing all-over white Trecandís, spiral designs and four circular ceiling lamps that represent each season of the year. An effortless statement in design, it’s essential to see on a visit to the park.
The Serpentine Bench is a well-known mosaic tile bench that winds its way along the terrace around Park Güell. It was created using the Trencandís technique, which was invented by Gaudí and was widely used during Catalonia’s modernism and surrealism periods. Created in a signature serpentine shape and varying vibrant tones for a statement effect, the bench was designed using jettison tiles from a factory close by. Both artistic and functional, rest and take in the beauty of the park in style at the Serpentine Bench. And would you believe it like almost everything else in Barcelona on this trip it is being renovated so less than half of it is actually opened. There was a lot of tourists walking around up there with the elbows pointed outwards and their shoulders dropped ready to rugby tackle someone for a place at the front to take a selfie.
Constructed in a slanted shape, the Laundry Room Portico was designed to mimic an ocean wave. Created with textured walls and coordinating statues throughout, the pillars at the exterior were put in place in order to secure the road above. Gaudí used this design to blend his creativity with the surrounding natural environment. The passages throughout were designed to connect houses to each other subtly, with their textured finish blending into the hillside. Visit the Laundry Room Portico to bask in the shade of the Spanish sun, as well as to witness innovative Catalan architecture at its finest.
The mosaic salamander statue (top right) that resides at the gates of Park Güell acts as the symbol of Barcelona. ‘El Drac’ is known by multiple names, such as ‘the dragon’ and ‘the Park Güell lizard’. Acting as a guard for Park Güell, it was created from brick and is coated with Gaudí’s signature Trecandís technique. Trecandís and serpentine shapes are common themes throughout Gaudí’s work, and Park Güell is an ideal location to see and enjoy both.
The Austria Gardens were originally meant to be part of the housing estate, with 60 villas planned to be built there. Following the failure of this plan, Park Güell was opened to the public, and the Austria Gardens became a plant nursery. Poignantly named, they gained their title through a donation of specific trees from Austria in 1977. Both houses built on the estate can be viewed from the gardens, one of which became Antoni Gaudí’s home, and now stands as the Gaudí House Museum. Filled with greenery, staircases and terraced balconies to take in the beautiful view.
Also not included in the price of the ticket for Monumental zone you will have to buy admission to visit although I am pretty sure it cost about £5 however if you are short of time you could miss it. The exterior of the house is very pretty but in terms of his work, you wouldn’t know it was a Gaudi creation from the inside.
If you have been reading my blog a long time you might remember a couple of years ago I suffered an extreme case of vertigo which left me bedridden and unable to move my head at all for eight weeks. It was intense and possibly the worst illness I have ever had, if you have never suffered with it, it is the same feeling as being too drunk and the room spinning. Now imagine the room spinning nonstop for eight weeks! Since then I seem to get bouts of vertigo lasting anywhere between 30 seconds and 15 minutes which might seem nothing but imagine being in another country alone and losing both your full hearing and your full sight at the same time add on top of that the knowledge that it once lasted eight weeks and it becomes very scary. By lunchtime, on the second day, I began to feel the earth spin which scared the hell out of me I sat down with a bottle of water and hoped it would pass quickly, it took 35 minutes before it started to fade which felt like a lifetime. Feeling very sick and a little worried it returned I decided to spend the rest of the day using taxis to get around. Regardless of anything my health and safety are my number one priority, there is no medicine available to prevent the attacks but I have found that taking decongestion tablets actually helps me. Feeling slightly back to normal I jumped in a taxi and headed up the mountain.