The story about the Park Güell Lizard you might not know
The Park Güell Lizard sculpture, officially known as "El Drac" (The Dragon), was created by the Catalan artist Antoni Gaudí in the early 1900s as part of his design for the park. It is made of broken ceramic pieces arranged in a mosaic pattern, and is notable for its bright colors and fantastical, otherworldly appearance.
Over the years, the Salamander sculpture has become a beloved symbol of Barcelona and an iconic image of the city. The sculpture is one of the most popular attractions in Park Güell, which is itself a popular tourist destination in Barcelona
History of the park Güell lizard
What was the park about
Park Güell is a public park located in the Gràcia district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It was designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí in the early 1900s and was intended to be a residential area for wealthy people. However, due to the fear of anarchist and communist terrorist attacks (at that time unfortunately were very frequent), the project was not successful, and the project was a failure. In 1918 Eusebi Guell, the patron of the whole project, passed away and his family did not want to proceed with the project.
The Park Güell urbanization project was supposed to have around 60 houses surrounded by a big wall in the middle of the nature. It was a concept taken from the British Garden city movement started in the early 1900s. That is the reason why Gaudí used the word “Park” in English (with a “k”) while in Catalan the right word should be “Parc”).
Greek area of the park
The Park Güell is divided mainly in 3 areas:
• The main entrance (also known as the “Greek area”).
• The big central square and the surrounding pathways and viaducts
• The Church at the top of the hill (called the Calvary hill)
The main entrance is largely covered by the Greek staircase, which contains elements that remember by the Hellenic classic heritage. Gaudí wanted to transmit the concepts of “rationality and order” just at the entrance. As a matter of fact, the Greeks were the first civilization to develop the philosophy. They stopped using the myths to start using the rational mindset to build a civilization. This is exactly what Gaudí wanted to propose at the basement of the urbanization.
Meaning of the Park Guell lizard
Is the Park Güell lizard a salamander or a dragon?
The Park Güell lizard is neither a salamander nor a Dragon. It is a serpent that represents Python, the monstrous lizard that was killed by Apollo in the Greek mythology.
Today, the lizard looks less aggressive than when it was built. There are pictures from 1907 showing that he had claws and teeth, making it more fierce and dangerous.
Philosophy vs mythology
Gaudí wanted to explain, through a Greek scene, how the rationality overcame the mythology.
In the central part of the staircase represent Python, the monstrous serpent, that guards the Sacred Oracle of Delphi (the statue just behind the lizard). These statues represented the superstition and the chaos, and how the Greek could overpass their myths to build a whole civilization based on the philosophy and order.
How to get there?
Location in the main entrance of the Park Güell.
There are 2 entrances in the Park Güell, the main one, can be easily identified because there are two big iconic buildings that show the entrance of the park.
It is located on Carrer d'Olot, which is in the Gràcia district of Barcelona (entrance B in the map below). This area is surrounded by small houses and is uphill. Back in the days, this hill was called “the bold hill” because it was completely empty and there were no trees. Thanks to the irrigation techniques that Gaudí implemented, the whole Park Güell now looks like a full green garden.
There are additional gates to enter to the park from different sides (north, east and west).
There are different ways to get to Park Güell by bus:
You can take the Bus line H6 or D40 and walk uphill for 10 min to reach entrance B in the map below.
Alternatively, there are other two bus lines that go to the Park Güell that have their bus stop just at the east entrance of the park, Bus Line V19 and Bus Line 24. (entrance A in the map below). This alternative is ideal in case you do not want to walk uphill for 10 min. However, the bus stop does not get you in front of the main entrance of the Park Güell, so if you want to reach the Park Güell Dragon you have to cross the park walking (around 5-10 min).
In case you want to reach the Park Güell by Metro, you have to take the green line and step down at the "Lesseps" station, which is the closest Metro station to get to the Park Güell main entrance. From there, you can have to walk uphill for about 20 minutes and you will reach the main entrance. There are signs on the street that will indicate how to get to the park.
Recommendations and best practices
Best time to arrive
The Park Güell is very large and, although it can get very crowded some days, there is always a lot of space to walk around. In summer, it is not recommended to visit around 1pm -3pm since it might get too hot.
Best times to enter are always early in the morning 9:30 am or before closing at around 5pm.
Possibility to take pictures
Yes, the Park Güell is an open space where you can take pictures and videos everywhere. In case you want to know the best places to get panoramic views, the three best popular spots are:
• The main square, with nice views over the main entrance.
• The viaducts that lead to the casa Trias.
• The church at the top of the hill.
There is a place to take snacks nearby
The Park Güell is not near the Barcelona city center, so there are not so many restaurants around. There are, however, a couple of bars inside the same park where you can grab a snack or a sandwich. However, if you are looking for a good restaurant meal, we recommend you walk 10 min towards Gràcia quarter and there are plenty of options. In case you like international cuisine, in Verdi Street there are plenty of options.
There are many concepts, statues or spots to understand in the Park Güell since Antoni Gaudí designed everything with a meaning behind. Every detail of the park has been thought with a specific purpose in the urban project that Gaudí had in mind.
In order to understand the meanings of this incredible UNESCO World Heritage Site, we recommend exploring it through a private Park Güell tour, where an official tour guide will explain you all the secrets and history of the Park Güell.