Park Guell’s History: From Private Estate to Public Park
Park Guell’s history dates back to the 1900s, when Eusebi Güell, a famous industrialist, gave the project of constructing a park to renowned architect Antoni Gaudi.
Initially conceived as a housing site with luxurious plots, the project aimed to provide a healthy environment with stunning views away from industrial smoke.
It faced many challenges during and after its construction, leading to its abandonment in 1914.
Following Eusebi Güell’s passing, the park underwent a significant transformation from a private project to a public park.
This article will tell you everything about the fascinating history of Park Guell and will unveil all the secrets that even tour guides won’t be able to tell you!
Park Guell History Timeline
1900: Eusebi Güell commissioned a luxurious housing site on an uphill location.
1906: Güell moves into one of the two completed houses in the park, and Gaudi moves into another house.
1907-1914: The construction of the Park Guell continued with the addition of many significant architectural elements.
1914: The ambitious project is abandoned due to various challenges, including a lack of buyers.
1918: Eusebi Güell passes away, marking a turning point for the park’s future.
1922: Güell’s heirs offered the park to the City Council, and they purchased it.
1926: Park Güell is officially opened to the public as a municipal park.
1963: Gaudí’s house in Park Güell is opened to the public as the Gaudí House Museum.
1969: Park Güell is declared a historical artistic monument of national interest.
1984: It was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Present: With 9 to 12 million annual visitors, the park stands second among Barcelona’s top most visited attractions, after the Sagrada Familia Church.
Do you know?
The visionary plan of Park Guell included a garden city with luxurious houses, caretakers’ lodges, a market, a school, and a church, focusing on maintaining extensive green areas.
History of the Origin of Park Guell in the 1900s
Garden City was a rational and hygienic city in the countryside, balancing jobs, housing, agriculture, and industry.
It was a very popular concept in England at the end of the 19th century.
Inspired by the English garden city movement, Eusebi Güell also planned to create a housing site on the hills for the rich families of Barcelona.
Who was Eusebi Güell?
Eusebi Güell was a Catalan businessman and philanthropist who also played an important role in the development of Barcelona.
He is best known for being one of the most important patrons of the famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí.
Guell composed some of the most famous works of Gaudi, like Park Guell and Palau Guell.
For the construction of Park Guell, Eusebi chose a hilltop location providing stunning views of the river and Barcelona City.
The estate was planned with around 60 triangular plots for luxury houses, adhering to strict building conditions to preserve the natural surroundings.
This project started with only two houses built by Francesc Berenguer in 1904.
One of the houses was called the Larrard House or Muntaner de Dalt House, and Geull moved there in 1906.
Antoni Gaudi was also a friend of Guell and later bought the other house at Guell’s suggestion. He moved there with his family in 1906.
Today, the house where Gaudi lived from 1906 to 1926 (his death) is called the Gaudí House Museum.
It contains original works by Gaudí and several of his collaborators.
Gaudi House Museum was opened to the public in 1963 with the help of his friends and you can visit it along with the park.
To see this wonderful house museum, you can book a combo tour of Park Guell and Gaudi House Museum and enjoy!
Antoni Gaudi and Park Guell Construction History
By 1907, Park Guell’s construction had caught pace.
Antoni Gaudi added a great touch of Catalan architectural style to the Park Guell.
He added many natural elements to the park, like “El Drac,” the statue of a lizard made with colorful mosaic tiles, a dragon stairway and many other whimsical sculptures.
He designed the park’s main entrance, consisting of two buildings called the porter’s lodge.
After this, the Main Square, then known as the Greek Theater, was constructed.
The square was located in the park’s center and served as a recreation area where numerous activities and religious ceremonies could be conducted.
The next was the hypostyle room, consisting of 86 columns, a significant feature of Gaudí’s design.
It was located on the second level of Park Guell and was used as a marketplace by the inhabitants.
Many other elements, like the fountains, dragon’s stairway, porticos, paths, and tracks with functional designs, were added by Gaudi.
In 1914, the construction of the tiled bench, with its whimsical curves, was also completed, but the project was stopped due to challenges.
Do you know?
Parc Güell’s was carefully designed without harming or changing the natural surroundings.
Instead of forcing the buildings and paths to be all straight and even, they worked with the bumps and hills already there.
This made the park fit in better with the landscape, and it feels like it grew out of the mountain itself.
Book your Park Guell tickets and witness this park built in perfect harmony with nature!
History of Park Guell from a Private Estate to a Public Park
As soon as the park was completed in 1914, it faced financial limitations, followed by a lack of suitable transport systems and many other issues.
Thus, it became a large private garden that Güell allowed to be used for public events. Later, due to its beauty, it began to appear as one of the city’s attractions.
Following the death of Eusebi Güell in 1918, his heirs offered the park to the Barcelona City Council. The council bought the park in 1922.
By 1926, Park Guell was opened to the public as a municipal park.
It underwent further adaptations with improved accessibility via underground railways, city buses, and commercial tourist buses.
This is how the housing estate was transformed into a public park, and today, it welcomes millions of visitors from all around the globe.
Want to listen to more interesting tales about the history of Park Guell from the local residents while exploring the park?
Book a guided tour of the Park Guell and get more insights like this!
1. What is the story behind Park Guell?
Park Guell’s story dates back to the early 1900s, when industrialist Eusebi Güell commissioned architect Antoni Gaudi to create a unique housing site.
Due to a lack of financial resources and sales, the project faced challenges, leading to its abandonment in 1914.
After Güell’s passing, the park became a public space and officially opened in 1926.
2. What does Park Guell symbolize?
Park Guell symbolizes a harmonious blend of nature and exquisite architecture envisioned by architect Antoni Gaudi.
The lush greenery, whimsical sculptures, and vibrant mosaic works reflect Gaudi’s commitment to creating a space where man-made structures coexist harmoniously with the surrounding landscape.
3. Who was Park Guell built for?
Industrialist Eusebi Güell commissioned the Park Guell.
It was initially designed for Barcelona’s upper class, offering luxurious plots and houses in a garden city setting.
4. What did Park Guell become in 1984?
In 1984, Park Guell was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, acknowledging its cultural and historical significance.
5. Why did Park Guell fail?
Park Guell faced challenges leading to its failure as an exclusive housing development. Issues such as location, lack of suitable transport, and limited interest from the wealthy contributed to the project’s abandonment in 1914.
6. When was Park Guell constructed?
Park Guell’s construction began in 1900 and was completed in 1914.
7. What problems were faced during the construction of Park Guell?
The construction of Park Guell faced many challenges, such as a lack of buyers for the luxurious plots, logistical issues, and less accessibility due to a lack of transport.
8. What is Parc Guell famous for?
Parc Guell is famous for its innovative architectural designs by Antoni Gaudi, including the iconic lizard sculpture, colorful mosaic works, and unique natural elements.
It is an exceptional work of Catalan Modernism architecture, making it a must-visit in Barcelona.
Buy your Park Guell tickets now!
Featured Image: SmartHistory.org