Park Guëll – GoCar RED ROUTE
It isn`t often that a huge commercial failure turns out to be a blessing in disguise, or that something designed to be wholly elitist actually turns out to be enjoyed by the masses, but in essence that basically describes the history behind one of Barcelona’s gems, the Parc Guëll.
When Esuabio Guëll purchased the second farm on Mount Pelat to the north of Gracia in 1902 his vision was for an exclusive residential estate for his peers. The land he had bought not only offered potential owners respite from the smog and chaos of the city centre, but a chance for them to literally and metaphorically look down on the city from where they derived their wealth and power.
Therefore it must have been a little surprising when this highly successful businessman had his very own Sinclair C5 moment. Despite an innovative design and Barcelona’s top architect on board the whole thing was a sales disaster. However, Guëll and Guadi decided to go ahead anyway clearly having a ‘if you build it they will come’ type moment. They were ultimately proved right of course with thousands of visitors a year. Although both men would be long gone before ‘they’ actually came.
For me the best way to enter the park is the way Gaudi intended through the main entrance on Carrer d’Olot. You will immediately find yourself admiring the two gatehouses but simultaneously being drawn towards the sweeping staircase that leads into the park.
As with so much of Gaudi’s work we don’t have the foggiest idea what the man was actually thinking. He was notorious for making it up as he went along and was clearly not at one with the ‘let’s put it all down on paper first’ philosophy of design. However this rather free-wheeling attitude only adds to the mystic of the man and his creations. What we do know is he was very religious, drew his inspiration heavily from nature and was a fervent Catalanist, that is to say, drawn to the illustrious past of his native country and this third facet to his persona was certainly in evidence in his Parc Guëll design.
William Blake once wrote ‘great things are done when men and mountains meet’. Now I suspect that as this great of English literature and art penned those words he was thinking of soaring majestic peaks and rugged explorer type chaps rather than an un-remarkable lump of earth in Catalonia and a quiet religious man with a straight line phobia, but as you pass between the colourful gatehouses that guard the entrance to Parc Guëll you can’t help but think that ol’ Bill hit the nail on the head.
One mountain met one man and as Gordon Ramsey would say ‘great thing, done!