Shooting at Park Guell

Worldwide famous Park Güell was Gaudi’s most ambitious project after the yet unfinished Sagrada Familia basilica church. At the begin of last century, Count Eusebi Güell purchased a tree­-covered hillside of El Carmel and hired Gaudí to create a garden city of the type popular at the time in England. The ambitious project turned up to be a commercial flop and was then abandoned but Gaudí was able to leave his tremendous architectural genius in the project.

He created two Hansel­-and-­Gretel fairytale like gatehouses, a panoramic plaza plus paths and stunning incredibly adorned staircase. The city of Barcelona bought the estate a few years later and used as a public park. Almost a century later, Park Güell became a Unesco World Heritage site and one of the main tourist sightseeing in town able to attract over 9 millions of visitors per year. This happened till this year when covid-19 outbreak changed things dramatically by erasing almost any trace of tourism in town.

Like many public attractions in Barcelona, Park Güell remained closed during last spring’s lockdown. Since it reopened, the park looked like a ghost place attended by a few locals and the usual morning runners only. This was the best and unique moment for me for shooting Park Güell without the usual tourists’ daily hordes who used to made almost impossible to take photos of this popular sightseeing in town. I visited the park twice in the last few days. A quiet and peaceful place where you could hear even birds singing and the only person asking for taking a photo was a young local girl happy to enjoy the park without the usual tourists’ crowd.

I walked through the park along with my camera looking calmly for interesting details, corners and views that were worth shooting. Pavilions of contorted stone, giant decorative lizards, meandering rustic viaducts, a vast hall of lonely columns, carved stone trees. All the hallucinatory expression of Gaudí’s imagination and creativity was there for me only, almost. I managed to observe carefully almost every angle of the stunning multicolored ceramic bench that snakes along the edge of the upper terrace in search of interesting pictures. Without all the usual crowd that made almost impossible shooting at Park Guell until last year, this time, I was able to discover interesting details of the bench I never paid attention before. I spent several hours under the winter morning gentle light by shooting all the manic swirl of ideas and excesses Gaudí had by creating this unusual public park.

TIPS: When pandemic will be over, hopefully, tourists will come back to visit this unique park. To fully enjoy your shooting at Park Guell with a very few people around and … for free also (!), be there before 8 a.m. when the park officially opens and tickets start to be issued. Morning light is gentle and tones are warm without strong contrasts. Also, you can shoot some beautiful against sunlight city skyline from the upper terrace. Avoid middle of the day hours and try instead to be there for twilight shooting from upper terrace. Most of visitors who were up there waiting for sunset will be already gone at that time so you can enjoy more your shooting at Park Güell.

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Stefano Politi Markovina