When Park Güell began to be built in 1900, Barcelona was a modern and cosmopolitan metropolis whose economy was based on the strength of its industry and which had over half a million inhabitants. Its walls had been knocked down nearly half a century earlier and the new city, the Eixample planned by engineer Ildefons Cerdà, had grown spectacularly from 1860 onwards, in what was the largest 19th century city development project in Europe.
The Park Güell is a public park system composed of gardens and architectonic elements located on Carmel Hill, in Barcelona (Spain). Carmel Hill belongs to the mountain range of Collserola — the Parc del Carmel is located on the northern face. Park Güell is located in La Salut, a neighborhood in the Gràcia district of Barcelona. With urbanization in mind, Eusebi Güell assigned the design of the park to Antoni Gaudí, a renowned architect and the face of Catalan modernism. The park was built between 1900 and 1914 and was officially opened as a public park in 1926. In 1984, UNESCO declared the park a World Heritage Site under “Works of Antoni Gaudí”.
Park Güell is the reflection of Gaudí’s artistic plenitude, which belongs to his naturalist phase (first decade of the 20th century). During this period, the architect perfected his personal style through inspiration from organic shapes found in nature. He put into practice a series of new structural solutions rooted in the deep analysis of geometry and its shapes. To that, the Catalan artist adds creative liberty and an imaginative, ornamental creation. Starting from a sort of baroquism, his works acquire a structural richness of forms and volumes, free of the rational rigidity or any sort of classic premisses. In the design of Park Güell, Gaudí unleashed all his architectonic genius and put to practice much of his innovative structural solutions that would become the symbol of his organic style and that would culminate in the creation of the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family (Catalan: Sagrada Familia).
Güell and Gaudí conceived this park, situated within a natural park. They imagined an organized grouping of high-quality homes, decked out with all the latest technological advancements to ensure maximum comfort, finished off with an artistic touch. They also envisioned a community strongly influenced by symbolism, since, in the common elements of the park, they were trying to synthesize many of the political and religious ideals shared by patron and architect: therefore there are noticeable concepts originating from political Catalanism – especially in the entrance stairway where the Catalonian countries are represented – and from Catholicism – the Monumento al Calvario, originally designed to be a chapel. The mythological elements are so important: apparently Güell and Gaudí’s conception of the park was also inspired by the Temple of Apollo of Delphi.
On the other hand, many experts have tried to link the park to various symbols because of the complex iconography that Gaudí applied to the urban project. Such references go from political vindication to religious exaltation, passing through mythology, history and philosophy. Specifically, many studies claim to see references to Freemasonry, despite the deep religious beliefs of both Gaudí and Count Güell. These references have not been proven in the historiography of the modern architect. The multiplicity of symbols found in the Park Güell is, as previously mentioned, associated to political and religious signs, with a touch of mystery according to the preferences of that time for enigmas and puzzles.