Welcome to Spain! We arrived in this beautiful country on Friday, Aug. 18, one day after terrorist attacks shook Barcelona. Unfortunately, this city was the first destination on our Spain trip, so we couldn't pretend that the incidents didn't cast a dark cloud over our trip. One of the first sights we saw after taking the Aerobus from the airport into the city was a memorial on Las Ramblas dedicated to the victims of the attack.
But, once we arrived at our Airbnb in Gracia, our host persuaded us that Barcelonians were ready for an attack and wouldn't let terrorists upset life in the city.
So, with that in mind, we set out to visit the first of our Gaudi sights: Park Guell.
Our apartment was relatively close to the park, so we took a leisurely 30-minute stroll through Barcelona and admired the unique architecture of the city.
Interestingly, it reminded us of a combination of Paris and Mexico City. There was the European influence in the more austere buildings, combined with the modern, somewhat mismatched buildings that you find in Mexico City.
After climbing what felt like endless stairs and steps, we arrived at Park Guell.
The beautiful hills within the park offer magnificent views of the city.
And make for a great workout...
We made reservations at Park Guell for 7:30 p.m. - we definitely recommend purchasing/reserving tickets online for all of the Gaudi museums - and arrived just before our cutoff time.
It was magic hour within the park - right before sunset - when the sunlight is perfectly even and diffused.
We were mesmerized by the beautiful Modernisme architecture and park structures. The genius, Antoni Gaudi, somehow creates a magical, wonderland experience within an urban context. He draws inspiration from nature and organic forms to transform architectural materials like colorful ceramic tiles, wrought iron, stained glass, stone and wood.
Park Guell was initially commissioned by entrepreneur Eusebi Guell in 1900. Guell was inspired by British residential parks, and envisioned his land as an estate for well-off families in the fast-growing metropolis.
In addition to the actual buildings, Gaudi also developed the gardens and the water systems of the community.
But, while Guell, Gaudi and one other resident ultimately lived in Park Guell, the complicated lease and land sale regulations in the city, lack of transportation, and exclusivity of the property made the community unviable as an estate.
By 1914, the project was abandoned, with only two of the 60 buildings planned to be built actually constructed.
Instead, Guell continued to reside on the property and allowed it to be used for public events.
Following Guell's death in 1918, the park was offered to Barcelona's City Council for purchase, and was reopened to the public in 1926. The Gaudi Museum on the property was then opened in 1963. And, in 1984, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
That's lucky for us and the millions of people who visit Park Guell to admire its architectural and natural beauty every year.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Park Guell - the first Gaudi site we've ever seen. And we could have spent many more hours exploring the beautiful park.
Stay tuned for many more of our visits to Gaudi creations during our Barcelona trip!
Park Guell Passatge de Sant Josep de la Muntanya Barcelona, Spain 08024