Catalonia long since was famous not only unique talents, but also notable judges of arts. If in ancient times governors and aristocrats were patrons of sciences and arts, in the 19th century, with blossoming of economy and emergence of the bourgeoisie, time of patrons came.
Eusebi Güell: “Yesterday shepherd, today señor”
Eusebi Güell was one of the most influential industrialists, senators and patrons of Catalonia of the second half 19 – the beginnings of 20 centuries. The textile industrialist only in the second generation, he got a brilliant education in Barcelona, England and France. The marriage on the Italian aristocrat opened for him doors in the high society.
Dawn Eusebia knew the price to money, favourably they put and soon I increased wealth of the father. But, as true Barcelonian, he possessed distinguished art taste, loved and appreciated fine, sparing no expense for art development. Therefore Güell’s house was always full of writers, artists, architects with whom Barcelona is so rich.
The attention of young Antony Gaudi who made out a show-window of shop of gloves was attracted at once. Being the big fan of architecture, Guel invited to the house of the beginning master to get acquainted with his works. Having seen sketches, Don Eusebi understood that before it rare talent, – unlike many who considered architectural experiments of Gaudi dull wild behavior. Soon Antoni Gaudi secured the first order from Güell and became his personal architect, and then and the close friend for the rest of life. For a family Guel Gaudi reconstructed the estate in Gothic quarter which is called the Palau Güell. I developed the project of the working settlement in vicinities of Barcelona which received the name of a colony of Guel. However, from all project only the crypt of church and a portico was finished.
But the park in the top part of the area Eixample became the most known masterpiece of Gaudi connected with a name of Eusebia Guel.
Garden city, or Return to the Eden
Now Güell Park is a favourite place of walks of inhabitants and guests of Barcelona, a traditional venue of many festive actions. The lonely corner of the wild nature is far from the noisy center where fantastic lizards and mosaic snakes live, and at hill top among greens raise the antique temple.
But the park not as the vacation spot thought. Commercial calculation of Güell consisted in favourably to make investments in real estate: in this picturesque place the huge housing and park complex for middle class had to grow. Creative ambitions of Don of Eusebi demanded that his child wasn’t simple a habitat, and the real Eden for modern people, a heavenly spot with a beautiful view of Barcelona. Grandiose plans demanded considerable time for their embodiment. On creation of park 14 years left: from 1900 to 1914.
In 1901 Güell managed to buy cheap 15 hectares of the earth on a hill Monte Pelada slope (“The bald mountain”) which towers over the quarter Gracie. The site was at the height of 150-200 meters above sea level.
Guel brought idea of construction of “garden city” to England where this theory of town planning only became fashionable. Her author, the utopian sociologist Howard, instead of the dirty, callous, industrial city offers ideal model of the small town with village elements where people live uniform community in harmony with the nature.
Guel and Gaudi conceived to fill idea of Englishman Howard with truly Catalan spirit. Their garden city has to be built in original style of Gaudi, with elements of Catalan symbolics and characters from national folklore. And any exotic plants – exclusively local flora! The nature for Gaudi was always the Temple. In the architecture he followed its laws and derived inspiration from its images and forms. Therefore in work on creation of park the master kept an unusual landscape and vegetation of the hill. Whatever made in itself were Gaudi’s constructions, they are ideally entered in a landscape and serve only as a frame of majestic beauty of the nature.
The idea close to each Catalan that Catalonia is and is a paradise garden on the earth, found unexpected and quite scientific confirmation during works on arrangement of slopes and laying of roads. Workers found an entrance to a cave where fossil remains of the animals living here in Bible times remained: rhinoceroses, deer, huge turtles and others. The invaluable find was interpreted as the indisputable proof of the Flood and existence of the Eden in the center of Catalonia.
The garden city of Güell on Gaudi’s project was divided into 62 sites under construction of mansions, had a market square in the center and a set of avenues, arbors, gardens and glades for games where inhabitants of this community could meet and spend time. Man-made idyll was protected from the outside world with high walls and gate.
Bright constructions of park remind scenery to a magic theatrical performance and as it often happen at Gaudi, are more similar to sculptures, than to works of architecture.
Two surprising lodges on both sides of the central gate of park are similar to Christmas gingerbread houses. One lodge is a witness mark of the gatekeeper, and the second – the building of administration of park with a waiting room for visitors, more. Its roof is decorated by a high tower with a Catalan volume cross. The form of a roof of this lodge is similar to a huge mushroom from “Alice in Wonderland”. Though a general view of lodges rather Grimm “Hansel and Gretel” causes in memory the fairy tale of brothers, about the brother and the sister who got lost in the wood and came into a sugar hose of the wicked witch.
Walls of houses are laid out from the raw stone with the unique facing which is going back to traditions of Catalan handicraftsmen. The tile, similar to fish scales, was created by bricklayers from several thinnest layers of ceramics. Thanks to such invoice there was a deliberate roughness of walls. Arches and the arches turned out strong and graceful at the same time, and, above all, were most similar to rough stony formations of a natural origin. Very much I loved for these properties of Gaudi and widely I used such material.
Wavy contour of roofs with gear elements and bright mosaic drawing from color ceramic splinters give to lodges a fantastic look. According to one of legends Gaudi ordered to the worker to take on streets a beaten tile, for design of the creations. And if it was insufficiently, it was necessary to break expensive Venetian ceramics nearly in the face of the amazed suppliers.
Different in a form, but conformable on registration of roofs, windows and doors, these two pavilions ideally supplement each other and are one of the most perfect architectural complexes in the world. And, above all, they create the fantastic atmosphere of park and train travelers for a meeting with the amazing world.
Having left behind wonderful lodges, we meet the first mythical inhabitants of park who protect a front staircase. The head of a snake in the center of the round mosaic medallion reminding a draconian eye decorates the small pool in the bottom of a ladder. And above between ladders the huge sculptural salamander covered with a multi-colored ceramic mosaic hid. The snake and a salamander is the stylized fountain. From open mouths of fantastic monsters water flows.
In a form the ladder reminds two twisting forest footpaths agreeing on hill top at the Greek temple.
Hall of hundred columns
The idea to execute a central square of park in antique style, unlike other constructions, belongs to Guel. This area thought as trade pavilion and a place for public meetings. Thanks to excellent acoustics, now concerts are arranged here.
Because of a large number of Doric columns which support a flat roof, this place was christened “The hall of hundred columns”. If to be exact, columns here 86.
Behind antique appearance of “The hall of hundred columns” the system of water purification is hidden. Rain water from a roof passed through natural filters from sand and a cobble-stone in the thin pipes hidden in columns. And on pipes I flew down in the special capacities established under columns.
It is the central point of park, the culmination of architectural composition of Gaudi. From a roof of the temple the view not only of all park, but also opens a panorama of Barcelona with a basilica of Sagrada Familia.
But the most mysterious and symbolical construction of Park Güell – the long, twisting bench in the form of a sea serpent located on a first line of a roof of the Doric temple. The big the part of work on a construction of a bench was done by the pupil and assistant Gaudi in his many ÅÒªó½ý projects. To give to a bench a form, organic and convenient for rest, on crude solution seated workers. So on a back and sitting of a bench there was a relief of the sitting person.
Colubrine bench is not simply decorative element of a roof. This one of embodiments of the wavy line – the main form of a matter in the installed Gaudi and a prototype of his favourite characters: Snake, Dragon, Salamander.
As well as other sculptures of park, a bench it is covered with a brilliant color mosaic. The bright mosaic pattern is sated with mysterious signs, magic symbols and the ciphered messages. Also it is possible to puzzle over the riddles left to us by great Gaudi infinitely.
Now it seems incomprehensible, but the financial project of Guel failed. From 62 sites were bought only 2. One of them got Gaudi, and the second – his friend, the lawyer Trias-i-Domenech. The third house which served as a mansion sample for buyers was redeemed by Guel later. In Gaudi’s house his museum is now located.
Because of financial problems Güell’s descendants after his death sold park to the city authorities. In Güell’s residence the municipal school was placed, and the park became Open City Park.
Together with other creations of Gaudi, Park Güell was entered in the List of the World heritage of UNESCO in 1984.
So commercial failure of Eusebia Guel turned back triumph of the genius and patron, presented to Barcelona the Garden of Eden
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