For some reason, I cannot get the umlaut into my title. So I apologize for starting this post off with a technical error.
I am not really a food blogger, so I am not going to regale you with the amazing food that we found to eat, all within easy walking distance of our Airbnb apartment. Let me just say that Barcelona is much like Seville: every where you turn there is a little hole in the wall that will sate you with wonderful food and great wine and beer. Finding a place to eat is not a problem. Deciding which one of dozens of options you are going to patronize IS the problem.
That being said, we had a wonderful dinner after our adventures at the Maritime Museum, and the next day was the day chosen to visit Park Güell. We had purchased our tickets to this attraction on line, weeks before our trip.
A little history is in order. Güell was a wealthy industrialist who admired Gaudí’s vision. Together they decided to establish a planned community in the hills outside Barcelona. Gaudí designed the whole place, including innovative ideas like separating vehicular traffic from pedestrians. He envisioned a central market place, where the inhabitants could shop without having to go downtown. This market place, called the Colonnade, was completely covered so the vendors could be in the shade. On top of it was a large flat square for public gatherings, games, fairs and the like, that was completely surrounded by a structure known as the Undulating Bench. There were public gardens planned.
Unfortunately, the idea did not take off. Güell had a house constructed in the community, and so did Gaudi. But they didn’t sell enough lots and ultimately Güell donated the entire property to the city of Barcelona for a public park.
The above photos are taken of the outer wall that surrounds Park Güell. Alternating along the whole wall are these mosaics. It really pretty much tells you in a nutshell what you are going to find inside. There are fantastic walls and constructs of unworked native stone, and fabulous mosaics made of porcelain and glass.
We decided that since the park was only about a mile from our apartment, we would walk there. We started out giving ourselves plenty of time just in case we got lost (we did not even though we have NO [gasp] GPS and rely completely on maps printed on paper [second gasp]).
It was a very pleasant walk along streets that were NOT choked with traffic. The transports of choice seem to be either feet combined with public transit, or scooters. Most of the streets in the area we were walking through were one lane, and one way. It was quite wonderful and peaceful. Along the way I spent quite a while admiring the brick work that was ubiquitous.
Every structure in this part of town seemed to display gorgeous examples of the mason’s art. Of course there were plenty of people who felt that they needed street side security for their windows. But it also seemed that if you felt like you needed security you didn’t necessarily want to uglify your building.
I liked this one, where the barbed wire of the security grill was woven into a spider web.
I also really liked this ironwork grill.
So much so that I had to put my camera through its paces to get some art shots of it, while my very patient husband waited. He was not feeling any urgency at that point. We were within a couple of blocks of the entrance to the park and we were about 45 minutes early for our appointed time of entry. So he admired the view of Barcelona while I clicked away.
We enjoyed the view of the iconic entry to Park Güell as we descended the staircase that led to it.
We were still quite early, and so in no rush to join the queue at the entrance. Along the way we paused to admire the fantasy of palms that were visible inside the park.
They were inhabited by parrots who were busy eating the tiny fruits the trees were bearing. Later on, within the park, we came across a colony of the same parrots who had chicks in nests, anxiously awaiting their parents’ return from foraging.
Finally the time arrived, and we entered the park. Before you get to the famous sculptural section that we had paid to see, we walked past very plain stone retaining walls. These were inhabited by an impressive selection of lizards, who were availing themselves of the drain holes the masons had left in the walls.
These are just a couple of the different species sunning themselves. As I was standing there taking the portraits of these reptiles, the crowds that were streaming by in their rush to view the work of Gaudí paused to try to see what I might be photographing. They seemed to be concerned that they might be missing something that wasn’t in their guidebooks, which of course they were! But to a person, not one of them “got” what I was interested in. I know, I’m fairly weird.
Presently we proceeded along in the wake of the crowd, and were immediately surrounded by the mosaic work that Park Güell is noted for.
Believe me, there are dozens of shots I took of this artistry. Everywhere you turned, there was color covering organic forms in concrete. The blue tiles above are a good image of Gaudí’s artistic vision. He haunted the porcelain factories of Barcelona, buying up their seconds and broken pieces. The square tiles above were probably seconds, which he brought to the site and then had broken so they could be laid around the curves of the concrete structures.
I also like the white ceramic tile with its border of raw stone. The juxtapositions of these materials happened over and over throughout the park.
Once we had sufficiently admired the mosaic walls, we proceeded to the main staircase where the Salamander resides. This mosaic fountain is probably one of the most famous images of Gaudí’s sculpture. You can find “Draco” everywhere in Barcelona: on tea towels, trivets, coffee cups, etc. etc. A few years ago some madman attacked him with a sledge hammer, but he is fully restored now.
I don’t want you to think that it was EASY to get this shot. It required quite a lot of patience, because most of the time the fountain and its surroundings look like this:
We continued on our pilgrimage, past more amazing rock work and mosaics. The Colonnade itself is a wonderful sculptural place, and I can imagine how pleasant it must have been to be able to set up your market stall in this deep shade in the summer, and out of the rain during the winter.
The ceiling of the colonnade is decorated with numerous medallions. These installations epitomize the way Gaudí scavenged for mosaic material. I believe he may have been the original recycler.
This is one of the central medallions in the ceiling of the Colonnade. Take a close look at it before you move on. Notice the bottoms of cups and saucers around the central flower. Notice that the arm of the flower at 12 o’clock appears to have been formed in part by a broken porcelain figurine. You can see its chest and arm, and you can also see the bottoms of bottles elsewhere in the form.
Oh here. Just take a look at a series of shots I took of the medallions in the ceiling. I was fascinated.
Above the Colonnade is the square with the Undulating Bench. This bench was also decorated with mosaics made from porcelain, bottles, and broken tiles.
On the back side there were drains and gutters. I loved the fact that where the water was draining from the square the details in the concrete were water drops.
I didn’t take a lot of pictures of the buildings where Güell and Gaudí lived. But here is a detail of the windows of the home built for Güell.
One of the other features of the park is the road/walkway system. This was specifically designed to keep the pedestrians safe. The walkways were under and shaded by the roads.
Here is another one of the walkways. The rock work was designed to mimic the bark of the local trees.
In another area, there were spectacular spirals worked into the pillars.
By this time, we were overcome by the crowds and were suffering from sensory overload, so we decided to leave the park and have some lunch. We walked back to our little apartment, enjoying the sights of the residential streets of Barcelona along the way.