A few weeks back we headed to Barcelona. It was our first visit to Spain so we were excited to see what it could offer us. We wanted to see as much contrast as possible and therefore we planned ahead. We picked out some things we wanted to see which included the infamous Basílica de la Sagrada Família, Parc Güell, the cities Gaudi buildings, Museum of Contemporary Art, Parc Montjuic, Parc de la Ciutadella, the beach front and Port Vell.
Our apartment was close to Parc Güell so we walked the 2km through Barcelona's northern quarter of Gracia. The park itself is located on Carmel Hill, the southern most mountain in the Collserola range which Barcelona is set into.
In 1900 Eusebi Güell asked Barcelona's own Antoni Gaudi, famous for the Basílica de la Sagrada Família and other buildings across the city, to design and build the park with urbanisation in mind. The place was to have 6 triangular plots on the park with large houses on. Due to cost only 2 of these houses were built. The area was inspired by English parks so we found it very familiar. Amongst the palm trees, mosaic covered buildings and cacti we felt strangely at home. The hills and paths formed a labyrinth of trails which you can happily get lost in. The trees provide ample shade from the Spanish sunshine.
Around each corner you are greeted with a new surprise, whether its a view of the city, a sculpture or a delight of nature. You can pay to get up close to Gaudi's mosaic buildings which twist and turn like the nature which inspired them or you can walk around the park for free.
We chose the free option and didn't feel we lost out. Many of the buildings are still visible and from the road outside the park you can see the elaborate gate house.
We went in February and it was quite quiet but be warned. In the summer it can get very busy!
Parc de la Ciutadella
This park is in the North East of the city and consists of lakes, museums and a spectacular fountain designed by Josep Fontseré. We walked down les Rambles, under the Arc de Triomf and into the park from the west.
The museum of geology and the Hivernacle indoor gardens were shut awaiting restoration but you can see into the Hivernacle through its wooden slatted windows. The inside is full of grasses, succulents and cacti.
The fountain in the park is stunning as you can climb up the steps to look into the fountain.
The park is full of trees and lush grass. At one point in Barcelona's history this was the only public green space and the locals still enjoy it to this day. The pathways are lined with orange trees which the parakeets fly between overhead.
This park is a great way to see the "real" Barcelona. Mingle with the locals on their lunch breaks and enjoy the largest park in the city. Also its completely free!
On our last day we paid a visit to Parc Montjüic. This area is steeped in history and has had a key role in the growth and shaping of modern day Barcelona. The early neolithic settlers in the area where living on this hill over looking the ocean. The castle on the top of the hill was a key stronghold during the Spanish Civil War and was a key defensive outpost in world war 2.
In recent years the parkland has been used as a Formula circuit in the 70's and in 1992 it was home to the Olympic Games.
To reach the park you can either take the local buses or use the venicular railway. We of course used the railway. To reach to summit you can walk or use the cable cars. We walked up and took a ride down. It was worth it for the view alone!
The park has many roads throughout it so it isn't the quietest but its a great area with plenty of trees and lakes. The views across the city are brilliant and from the castle you can see the ocean and docks.