I've lived in Barcelona on and off for just about five-and-a-half years now and full time since we moved back from Germany three years ago. For pretty much the whole time, Diana and I have been trying to visit the Finca Guell (something like Guell Estate or Farm in English). Like lots of other places with the Guell name (like this, that, and another), this one was designed by Gaudi.
I had pretty much given up as, seriously, we'd gone there I can't tell you how many times and it was closed, or had just closed, or was never open, or who knows what... Here's a photo of me being attacked by the front-gate's Gaudi-designed dragon during my first visit just over five years ago...
Diana and I, against my better (and overly-pessimistic) judgement, decided to try again, this time using a locals-only 50-percent-off summer-discount ticket. Well, finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, it was to be the day. We got there and...the gate was not only unlocked but...actually staffed...by an actual human...actually selling tickets!!!
The original property was fairly large and what's in these photos is basically the property's back door near where they kept the horses. The rest is now the Palau Reial (where the Spanish royal family stayed when visiting Barcelona), the big Avenida Diagonal, and a university.
La finca, built between 1884 and 1887, was one of Gaudi's first projects for Guell and the stables are one of the largest things that remains. Classic Gaudi touches include the catenary-arch door and the tile-covered cupola:
The stable doesn't look particularly big but, step inside, and it's surprising how much space there is. As you can probably tell in the photo below, they haven't over-renovated the property and, other than this building (and the front gate), there's not much to see (which is probably partly why it's only a few euros to get in...if you manage to get in).
The rest of the grounds, which basically cover a large city block, is park-like reflecting the original Garden-of-Hesperides design.
The Garden of Hesperides is a Greek myth about a garden located somewhere on the Iberian peninsula (where Spain and Portugal are). Legend says that a golden-apple tree grew there and, when eaten, the apples granted immortality. But, the Hesperides, who were nymphs (of course), sometimes ate the apples themselves when they were only to care for the tree. So the god whose garden it was introduced a hundred-headed dragon to act as a guard, thus the gate. My take on the story is a warning against how some (most?) companies introduce complex rules and policies rather than directly address problem individuals...but I digress.
Unfortunately, we didn't see the hundred-headed dragon the day we were there. It is possible, though, that the dragon is there during other parts of the year but, since it was August and all of Spain is on vacation, maybe the dragon was too.
With the dragon a no-show, the surprise find of the tour was this old crane. I took a photo but didn't think much of it until I saw a photo inside the stable showing people building La Pedrera using this exact piece of equipment.
...and a close-up...
Yeah, if you can tell, after all the waiting and trying, the Finca Guell was just okay (Yes, I know, maybe I'm too spoiled by all the great things to see in Barcelona!). But the gate, which you can see from outside is awesome and I did enjoy learning about the Hesperides story.
Five years later and, this time, full of golden apples...