Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 340 - Parc Güell

Parc Güell is another popular tourist destination in Barcelona designed by Antoni Gaudi. Built from 1900-1914, the park was originally intended to be a city-garden with houses built for aristorcrats. It failed as a real estate project (only two houses were ever built) and in 1923 the space was transformed into a public park.

The main entrance is at the lowest part of the park. The double staircase has sides with checkerboard tiles and crenelated tops. It is a rather striking staircase in appearance and offers a few colourful sculptures along the way. The downside is that the park is at its most crowded along the staircase, and navigating the crowds of posing tourists can be a bit taxing.

Halfway up the stair, looking back towards the main entrance, you can see two buildings that flank the entrance, the porter's lodge and the office. Both buildings have a gingerbread house appearance (to my eye anyway), with undulating roofs and tall towers. Typical freaky Gaudi.

The 'hypostyle' chamber at the top of the stairs is called the Chamber of the Hundred Columns, although it only has 96. The roof supports the floor of the public square above it. It was originally intended to be a market. To create more space Gaudi eliminated random columns. Josep Maria Jujol, the collaborator on all of the tile work, designed large medallions for the empty spaces in the ceiling.

The wall surrounding the public square above the chamber twists around the plaza and is designed as a long bench for seating. Brightly colored broken tiles create mosaic designs - a technique called trencadis. It is very relaxing to sit and rest on the bench, taking in the vibrant colours and shapes. This bench is probably the most relaxing part of the park.

Circling the outer section of the park are the roadways which were originally intended to service the houses. Separate footpaths formed under these structures, marked by oddly shaped columns.

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