Sprawling across a hill in the outskirts of the Gràcia district is Park Güell, a burst of sheer creativity and whimsical imagination. Designed by Antoni Gaudí, the most famous of Barcelona's Catalan modernista architects, it was a project commissioned by Count Eusebi Güell, who envisioned a model garden city community of 60 dwellings for affluent folks. In the end only two houses were built and by the early 1920's the project was taken over by the local government, who turned it into a public park.
The park can be divided into two main sections, both exemplifying in different ways the one-of-a-kind esthetic creativity and imaginative approach to architecture typical of Gaudí's work. The upper part boasts paths winding through Mediterranean vegetation, a more natural zone that nonetheless exhibits Gaudí touches - sculptures, shapes, etc. - throughout. The lower part is the most famous section of the park, with its giant decorative lizard, funky structures, vibrant tiled mosaics, contorted stone and colorful, abstract motifs. One of the most recognized features is the spacious terrace above the columned hall, where you'll find the famous ceramic bench snaking around the entire edge. It's a wonderful spot to soak up the sun, people-watch and check out views over the Barcelona cityscape.
A trip to Barcelona simply isn't complete without a stop at Park Güell. Plus, it's free to visit! The only thing that costs a few Euros is the Casa Museu Gaudí, a museum exhibiting plans and objects relating to the park as well as furniture and personal effects, as he was convinced to live in one of the two constructed houses for a spell... that is, until he dedicated himself wholly and moved permanently closer to another of his internationally famous projects: the Sagrada Familia church.