Designed in by Antoni Gaudi, a man more famous for his architecture than his landscape gardening, between 1900 and 1914 , Parc Güell is located 4km north of the centre of Barcelona, in the suburb of Gracia, near Tibidabo.
The park was commissioned by Eusebi Güell in the hope that this hillside with its amazing views over the rest of the city would attract the well off families of Barcelona to the area, and in doing so raise the value of surrounding properties making Eusebi a wealthy man, but this plan never quite worked. Only two of the planned sixty houses were ever built, and Gaudi himself lived in one of them from 1906 to 1926. This house, known as the Casa-Museu Gaudi, is now a museum to Gaudi's life.
The main entrance to the park is overlooked by two tall spires, built in a classic fairytale gingerbread house style that is is typical of Gaudi's work, which were designed to be an administrative centre and porters lodge for the estate. Set back from these buildings, the park is guarded by a 4ft long blue mosiac dragon, which seems to have become an unofficial emblem of the city, smaller versions of this statue are available in shops all over the city. Supporting the dragon is a wide stairway up to a many pillared hall with its mosaic ceiling, designed in part by Josep M. Jujol, and apparently intended as a marketplace for the housing development. Littered throughout the park are towering rock pillars supporting vaulted canopies that make you feels as if you are walking in some strange stone forest. Surmounting the pillared hall is a large plaza, with a long serpentine bench winding its sinous way around the edge.
The majority of the park isn't actually landscaped, as it was intended that houses were to be built on it, and there are some nice walks around the area, where you can escape the noise of the city for half an hour to wander beneath the trees.
The easiest way to get to the park, which is situated on Carrer d'Olot, is to go to the Lesseps metro station and follow the signs from there, which do get slightly confusing as you get close to your destination, or apparently there is a number 20 bus which serves the area. If you choose to walk, many of the walls along the route a daubed with anti capitalist, and anti tourism murals including a huge piece of work with the slogan 'Tourists, you are the terrorists'
As with much of Gaudi's work, Parc Güell as both astonishingly beautiful, as well as strangely other-wordly, and in my opinion is one of the must see attractions in the city
Parc Güell was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984