|A REAL-LIFE FAIRYTALE PARK|
Hansel & Gretel's playground, or the inspiration of Dr. Seuss' universe, the enormous Parc Guell will surprise you at each and every turn.
Originally meant to be a luxury residential development, Parc Guell - like the Sagrada Familia - wasn't completed. It encapsulates all of Gaudi's architectural principles and genius. He was largely inspired by nature and religion and this is visible at several points of the park. Indeed, it is littered with crosses, the most prominent one being the high-point of the park with spectacular views of the city.
The park has several different areas: the covered viaduct, the main terrace, the covered "market square"... All the columns at Parc Guell mimic different kinds of tree trunks. The ones near the entrance mimic palm trees, the ones at the viaduct the trees planted above them. Each twisted column is unique - made by a different assistant - to reflect the uniqueness of nature. The "snake serpent" bench on the main terrace was Gaudi's interpretation of ergonomics: have a seat and wonder at how he made stone and tile feel so comfortable. He also designed the bench with an in-built drainage system so they would dry more quickly after the rain. Look carefully at the bench and you might find Gaudi's hand-engraved religious messages or flower sketches.
The park is huge and quite a hike from the closest stations. Lesseps Stn is the closer station, taking you to the main entrance, but it's an uphill climb to the park and in the park. Coming in from Vallarca Station is highly recommended. It's a little further, and still a hike to the park, but there are escalators that take you up to the park and you'll be able to walk down to the main gate. Remember that there's still the hike up to the main viewpoint once you get in the park!
Keeping all of this in mind, it's probably best to get to the park as early as possible (it opens at 10AM) to avoid the midday sun and the crowds. Walk around and explore the park in the cool morning and then have a picnic for lunch before heading off to your next destination.