Whatever the reason you’ve decided to visit Barcelona on a school trip, it would be almost sacrilegious to come here and not spend some time taking in some of the work of the city’s most famous son, Antoni Gaudí.
And Park Güell is a wonderful place to do just that. Not only is it a fantastic example of Gaudí’s work, but it was also his home for two decades and now boasts a museum dedicated to the Catalan architect in the house he lived in.
Park Güell was originally conceived as a residential development for well-to-do Barcelonians, in a similar vein to English garden cities (note the English spelling of ‘Park’). So this is an interesting visit for geographers looking at urbanisation.
The development was to offer spacious homes, all with wonderful views over Barcelona to the Mediterranean Sea. The layout would mean that no house would obstruct the view of its neighbours. And there would be a number of communal facilities, including a market, chapel and visitor reception.
Building regulations meant that only one sixth of the property could be built on, with gardens covering the rest of it. Sixty houses were to be built on the land owned by Eusebi Güell, friend and patron of Gaudí. And yet, only two were ever built.
Gaudí’s modernist style was, during this period, heavily influenced by nature, which is clear to see at Park Güell. It’s also clear to see Gaudí’s strong national pride as a Catalan – how many Catalan symbols can your students spot around the park?
For young artists and creatives, this is an exciting visit, where they will have the opportunity to see architecture the likes of which they’ll have never seen before. They’ll be able to work out what inspired Gaudí, and see how that inspiration translated into his work.
Of course, it’s also a great visit for Spanish language students – not only is this an opportunity to really soak up the unique culture of Barcelona and chat to locals and tourists about what they see, it could be great inspiration for some post-trip work.
You could ask your students to research an area of the park or its history to present to the class, or perhaps they could write a detailed explanation of what they saw there, maybe in the style of a tourist guidebook.
Park Güell may have ultimately been a failed development project. But it’s left Barcelona with a spectacular park that really captures the essence and atmosphere of the city. And if there were no other reason to visit than that, this attraction would still be simply unmissable.