Tag Archives: UNESCO

Park Güell Barcelona — Antoni Gaudi’s Jewel

imageFrom the terrace of the park, you are afforded a breathtaking view of Barcelona, the ocean, and its port

Who visits Barcelona and doesn’t see Park Güell? I am guilty of this, having been to this Catalan city twice, and in both times, was only able to see the surroundings of the park because I failed to secure an entrance ticket.

Lady luck is definitely on my side, however, as just last month, I was able to travel again to Barcelona.

And this time, I opted for RENFE, which meant I reached Barcelona in no time at all. Indeed, it was a fast travel for me. While before, it took me some 7 to 8 hours to reach the city by car from Madrid, I was there via train within 3 hours.

By 8 am, I was up and about, ready to head to the park. It was a weekend, so I presumed Guell would have more visitors. In a hurried pace, panting and all, I climbed up the Montanya from the Metro Lesseps to arrive at the entrance gates at around 9AM. There was hardly any visitor at the entrance booth, and so we easily got our tickets and rushed to enter Guell.

imagePerhaps one of the most popular parks in Barcelona, if not the most popular, Güell is found within another natural park, sitting on top of the Carmel Hill. For me, it is more like a huge, attractive garden where one can roam around to his heart’s desire. What makes it unique from the other Spanish park is that it is filled with spectacular works of art by Antoni Gaudi, Spain´s premier artist. Needless to say, Guell is a true testament of Gaudi’s artistic genius.

Original plan for Park Güell

Eusebi, aware of the brilliance of Gaudi, commissioned him to head the park’s construction that started in the early 20th century. They planned it as a residence park for at least 50 families. When the plan fizzled, Gaudi continued his work on the park, utilizing and playing with numerous colors and designs that are found everywhere within Guell.

My impression of the park? When in Barcelona, Park Guell is one place you mustn’t miss to see. In fact, as soon as the group entered and started to gaze around, every spot, and every nook and corner of Guell is breaktaking. All of us are one in saying that the park is one that will never fail to astound.

What to see inside Park Guell

2017_111118_1653_474Marvel at these structures along the hill of the park — rough, arcaded walkways tourists can leisurely promenade through as they wander and examine the park.

2017_111111_0939_015There is beautiful, randomly pieced tilework in the park, full of life and color, on the creatures living there and on the grand sinuous benches surrounded a large open square

2017_111523_3831_818The best entrance to access to the park was the one situated in Carrer d’Olot, in front of the beautiful stairway where the lizard can be found, and the Hypostyle Room.

2017_111111_0930_727Its roof forms a vast terrace with a view of the city. It’s surrounded by an undulating continuous bench, the back of which forms a balustrade, its entire surface encrusted with ceramic shards of all colours, some randomly arranged, some in patterns.

imageThe beautiful edifice, another great masterpiece of Guadi, is the Hypostyle Room, where found are around 86 Doric designed columns serving as support to the roof.
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How to reach the park

By Car–

From La Rambla, it is more or less half an hour drive from Placa de Catalunya. Go past the Tivoli Theatre by turning right, and continue to ride straight ahead until you reach the Tetuan Plaza. From here, you will have to turn left and then go straight until you pass through the Travessera de Gracia. A couple of meters more and you’ll find yourself within the vicinity of Park Güell.

By Metro–

Take Linea 3. Here you get off at Vallarca, and walk some 15 minutes, including the use of the Baixada de la Glòria escalators, until you reach the Avinguda del Santuari de Sant Josep de la Muntanya. Walk further up to the end portion of  Carrer d’Ot, where located is one of the entrances to the park.

You may get also off at the Lesseps station (also on Line 3), then head to the Sant Josep de la Muntanya passage by foot, which is also equipped with escalators.

Admission Ticket Prices

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General price: 7 euros

Kids 6 years old and below: Free

Kids 7 to 12 years old: 4.90 euros

Adults 65 years and over, persons with disability: 4.90 euros (subsidized ticket price)

 

Trivia about the park:

2017_111111_0956_6691. Inside the park are two houses, one of which served as the residence of Gaudi himself. This is what was created out of the original plan of building some 60 residences inside the park — but apparently, only a few were interested.

2. Park Guell was declared by UNESCO as one of the important World Heritage Sites in 1984.

3. Paying for the entrance fee, you simply gain access to 5 percent of the park and its most important portion — the terrace. All the rest, the 95 percent of the park, is free to see.

Outside Madrid: Royal Town of Aranjuez

Aranzuez isn’t a huge, highly sought-after town, but it’s far from being hidden and obscure. It is actually one jewel of a Spanish pueblo, being the site of a spectacular royal palace. Still, many would consider it as low-key compared to the more popular day trip destinations like Toledo, Segovia, or even the faraway exciting getaways like Santiago de Compostela.

There’s no bit of a doubt, however, that this town 80 kilometers away from Madrid can hold its own, boasting of some of the most alluring sites and attractions.

Aranjuez, Madrid and its Royal Palace

aranjuez palace in plaza de las parejasThis town presents a great appeal to those who are interested in royal history, and this is thru the Palacio Real de Aranjuez, an 18th century palace that once served as the residence of the King of Spain. With the collaboration of distinguished Spanish architects such as  Juan Herrera, Juan Bautista de Toledo, and Francesco Sabatini, the royal edifice was built using a  mix of Renaissance and French style in its design.

It was in 1523 when the palace was officially declared the royal property of the Spanish Monarchy.  Beloved royalties who lived and died there were Elisabeth Fernese, wife of Philip V and Elizabeth of Valois, wife of Philip II.  Likewise, the Palacio Real was the site of the signing of various important treaties.

If you haven’t been to Aranjuez, Spain, it’s high time that you do. The Palacio Real will certainly amaze you. it is easy to find since it is right in the midst, as if to assert its prime importance as the town’s top tourist attraction.

Apart from the palace, other major attractions are its sprawling plazas, the Tagus River, and the Casa del Labrador.

Where to start your Aranjuez tour

imageThe Ayuntamiento Building at Plaza de Constitucion. The statue in front is Alfonso XII

Aranjuez is less than an hour away – whether by bus or by train. It’s one of those charming towns that are near Madrid, and very easy to reach — you’ll be there even before you know it.

You might want to start your tour at the Plaza de la Constitution, where you can see the Ayuntamiento — simple yet stately in its facade. On one side of the square stands a metal board marked on which is a map specifying all the major places of interest to see. Or you can head straight to the tourism office for a tour map plus instructions and advices on how to get around the town.

I spent the whole day exploring Aranjuez, and had a great time discovering all the reasons why the whole town was declared a World Heritage Cultural Landscape by the UNESCO. The Royal Palace was just impressive. You can see the grandness of the structure from the pictures that I took. I can proudly say that my shots of the palace are all postcard-worthy. Equally impressive are the gardens and plazas, the surrounding bodies of waters, and the Casas.

Aranjuez might be small, but it can very well compete with the much larger and more touristy Spanish towns. Needless to say, it must be one the first town-members of the community of Madrid that you must visit. Engaging locals, lots of eager tourists, amazing tourist attractions, what more can you ask for? Add Aranjuez to your must-see town list, do visit and explore it, and I assure you it is all worth your while.

What to see in Aranjuez, Spain

1. Royal Palace of Aranjuez

imagePalacio Real de Aranjuez in Spanish, this UNESCO-declared World Heritage Site was once the King’s official residence. One of the more popular Royal Sites, it now serves as a museum and is open to the public.

2. Iglesia de San Antonio

imageKing Ferdinand VI assigned Spanish architects Gonzalez Velazquez and Santiago Bonavia to build what was intended as a royal church, and one dedicated to San Antonio de Padua – St. Anthony´s Church or Iglesia de San Antonio. This Italian-inspired church from the 1700’s sprawls in one end of the Plaza de San Antonio. Nearby is the Tourism Office.

3. Iglesia de Alpajes

imageThe Alpajes Church, also called the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows, is a small church located in the old Alpajes quarter. Eventually, the said quarter was incorporated into the expanded Aranjuez town.

4. Parterre Garden

imageThe beautiful Parterre Garden is the most colorful of all that surround the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, I must say. It must be where beautiful flowers of all types and hues are found. The flowers were in blooming and exploding in all colors that the whole garden was such a fascinating sight. Parterre is in front of the West portion of the Palace.

5. Jardin del Principe

imageLiterally, it means the Prince’s Garden. The Jardin was a pet project of Charles IV which started when he was still the Prince of Asturias. Consisting of 150 hectares of land, it must have been the largest Madrid garden that I’ve seen so far. It took 19 years to build the garden, and was finished in 1908, at the time when Charles finally became king.

6. Casa del Labrador

Casa del Labrador, Aranjuez, Community of Madrid, SpainOne of the royal family of Spain´s favorite residences in Madrid, the Casa del Labrador is a World Heritage site. Public viewing and visits are allowed although I wasn’t able to because I visited Aranjuez on a Monday, when most of the sites are closed.

7. Jardin de la Isla

imageA beautiful garden found in the northern portion of the palace, the Jardin de la Isla is so-called because it is situated in the middle of bodies of water, by the Tagus River or Rio Tajo, and a man-made river.

8. Cascada de las Castanuelas

imageLocated beside the Jardin de la Isla, the Cascades was built to regulate the course of the Tagus River and to collect water for the gardens.

9. Tagus River

imageRio Tajo in Spanish, it is one of the main  bodies of water that surround the palace. Tagus River is of utmost importance to Aranjuez’ environment as it sustains the lives of a number of animal varieties, especially the waterfowl.

How to get to Aranjuez, Spain:

imageVia Bus: Take the 423 bus, found at Estacion Sur, Madrid’s biggest bus station. The latter can be reached via Metro Madrid Linea 6, at Mendez Alvaro.

Fare is 4.20 euros, and tickets are bought on the bus itself.

Via Train: Cercania train tickets are available at the ticketing counters of Chamartin and Atocha stations. Traveling by train is more or less the same as that with bus travel – around an hour.

For specific journey schedules and ticket prices, please refer to Cercania’s website.

Map of Royal Palace of Aranjuez: