Güell: bizarre when written and a nightmare to pronounce but still one of the most familiar words to any visitor to Barcelona thanks to Gaudí’s Park Güell. But do you know WHAT or, better said, WHO was Güell? Basically, someone without whom some of Gaudí’s finest work wouldn’t have ever existed.
Eusebi Güell was a businessman in the Barcelona of the beginning of the XX Century. He was director of an important Bank and the founder of textile and construction companies. He was also and influential figure in Catalan politics with posts in local and regional governments. In short, he was a rich and powerful man of his time. Eusebi Güell also had a taste for the arts and was very active in the promotion of the Catalan Cuture. At that time, the Catalan Culture was living a new flourishing known as the Renaissance.
In 1878, Eusebi Güell, powerful, rich and a lover of the arts, met Antoni Gaudí, an architect who was starting to stand out and whose works were admired by the businessman. Soon Güell commissioned the design of several buildings to Gaudí and, as he really admired and understood the new architecture and art of Gaudí, he became his patron and funded many of the architect’s works.
Antoni Gaudí and Eusebi Güell had a very close relationship, a friendship based on mutual respect and admiration. Güell was the one who fostered Guadí’s professional career and gave him complete freedom to develop his art and talent. What would have been of Gaudí without Güell we will never know, but Barcelona probably owes a big deal of what it was at that time and what it is know to Eusebi Güell.
Park Güell is undoubtedly the most popular of Gaudí’s work made possible thanks to Eusebi Güell, but there are two other masterworks of the architect entirely commissioned by Güell that are definitely worth a visit. One is Palau Güell, in La Rambla. It’s one of Gaudí’s first projects and it was an extension of the family residence the Güells had in the heart of the city. It’s like a palace, as it name indicates, and there Gaudí unfolded all his creativity both in the exterior and the interiors of the house. The other outstanding work no Gaudí lover should visit is Colònia Güell. It’s in Santa Coloma de Cervelló, 30 minutes far from Barcelona. There, Güell built the colony for his textile factory and it’s nowadays the biggest and better preserved modernist colony in Catalonia. The crypt of the church was designed by Gaudí and it reminds Sagrada Familia’s style. Some say Colònia Güell is Dalí’s best kept secret site.
Palau Güell: www.palauguell.cat/en
Colònia Güell: www.gaudicoloniaguell.org/en