This park is one of Gaudí's, and Barcelona's, most visited attractions. Named for and commissioned by Gaudí's steadfast patron, Count Eusebi Güell, it was originally intended as a gated residential community based on the English Garden City model, centered on a public square, where impromptu dances and plays could be performed, built over a covered marketplace. Only two of the houses were ever built (one of which, designed by Gaudí's assistant Francesc Berenguer, became Gaudí's home from 1906 to 1926 and now houses the Casa-Museu Gaudí museum of memorabilia). Ultimately, as Barcelona's bourgeoisie seemed happier living closer to "town," the Güell family turned the area over to the city as a public park—which it still is, for local residents. Visitors must pay an entrance fee. You can purchase tickets online, at the park, and at the Lesseps and Vallcarca metro stations.
An Art Nouveau extravaganza with gingerbread gatehouses, Park Güell is a perfect place to visit on a
sunny afternoon, when the blue of the Mediterranean is best illuminated by the western sun. The gatehouse on the right, topped with a rendition in ceramic tile of the hallucinogenic red-and-white fly ammanite wild mushroom (rumored to have been a Gaudí favorite) houses the Center for the Interpretation and Welcome to Park Güell. The center has plans, scale models, photos, and suggested routes analyzing the park in detail. Atop the gatehouse on the left sits the phallus impudicus (no translation necessary). Other Gaudí highlights include the Room of a Hundred Columns—a covered market supported by tilted Doric-style columns and mosaic medallions; the double set of stairs; and the iconic lizard guarding the fountain between them. There's also the fabulous serpentine, polychrome bench enclosing the square. The bench is one of Gaudí assistant Josep Maria Jujol's most memorable creations, and one of Barcelona's best examples of the trencadís technique (mosaics of broken tile fragments: recyling as high art). From the metro at Plaça de Lesseps, or the Bus Turístic stop on Travessera de Dalt, take Bus No. 24 to the park entrance, or make the steep 10-minute climb uphill on Carrer de Lallard.