After a busy but manageable day one, day two was going to be a long one. Today’s itinerary was Park Güell and Casa Batlló, but as Park Güell was out of the way and the nearest metro stop had an uphill walk, we had to find out the best way to get there. We had already booked our tickets online for Casa Batlló but not for Park Güell which was an error on our part.
Park Güell is in the La Salut neighbourhood of the Gràcia district and comprises of three houses, one of which Gaudi lived in from 1906 to 1926, a rooftop plaza called the Nature Square, around 20 hectares of parkland and more mosaic tiles than you can shake a stick at. Originally it was going to be a garden city with 60 houses, The Nature Square that has the iconic serpentine bench running around it and the Hypostyle Room (intended as a marketplace) which is under the Square. On paper it sounds stunning, but to us, didn’t live up to the hype.
After speaking to someone on the reception desk at out hotel, we took the number 24 bus up to Park Güell, which took about 40 minutes. The bus takes you to one of the entrances at the top of the hill. When we got there we walked up to the ticket desk to be told that they are timed entry only and the next available one wasn’t until the afternoon! The part you pay for is the Monumental Zone, which has all the mosaic tiles, the main entrance and the Nature Square, but the Free Access Area is just that, free! As there wasn’t anything nearby we wanted to see we decided to go and have a look around the Free Access Area and climb up to the top to get some good views of the city. Word of warning! There are a lot of street sellers selling what I would call tat, or what some people would call cheap souvenirs. Things like fridge magnets and trinkets for between €1 and €5. It is up to you if you want to buy one but they all looked like cheap imports.
We came back another day with tickets in hand and went into Gaudi’s house, saw the serpent mosaic at the fountain, which was okay, but all in all I was a little disappointed and so was my fiancé. I think I had a romantic memory of Park Güell from when I came previously and this visit didn’t live up to it. I was impressed with the Free Access Area more than I was the Monumental Area but at €8.00 (€7.00 online) entry, I wasn’t too miffed about going.
More details can be found via the following links:
How to get there:
For the afternoon, we had tickets for Casa Batlló. The good thing about the tickets we chose was they had no timed entry, so we could go at any time up to the last entry, which was 8pm, and they are open 365 days of the year! They do have other types of tickets available, so for €22.50 you need to select what day you want to visit or for €29.50 you could have the ticket we had.
All ticket options can be found here: https://www.casabatllo.es/en/online-tickets/
Casa Batlló (The Dragon Building) is located on Passeig de Gràcia and was built by Antoni Gaudi for the Batlló family in 1907 and was apparently designed to show St George defeating the dragon. When you see the rooftop and the mosaic façade, you will understand why! The roof is in the shape of the dragon’s back and the tiles are shaped to look like scales, whilst the colours used are to represent the blood of the victims. The cross on the façade is the sword that defeated the dragon when the princess was being saved by the knight. Blimey!
Inside there are little to no straight lines and there are arches everywhere you look. It really is a sight for sore eyes. With windows that are opened and closed by counterweights, skylights designed to look like tortoise shells, masks for balcony railings and organic looking painted walls, it truly is a feast for the eyes. There is a book you can sign to say that you have been to Casa Batlló, which we did and put some funny comments in. You can even get a photo on one of the balconies, which we did and in true travelstodge style, we pulled a funny face and it’s now framed for all to see at travelstodge HQ! This was an additional €12 but you can have your photo taken and then decide not to have it, so don’t worry if you don’t like what you see, you’re not obliged to make a purchase.
We used the metro and got off at Passeig de Gràcia, however, details on how to get there can be found here: https://www.casabatllo.es/en/visit/how-to-get-there/
So there you are, a park and a dragon… day three will be up very soon, but in the meantime, if you have been to any of the places I’ve mentioned or are planning to, let me know what you thought or if you are planning to visit them soon. I’d love to hear from you.