Colònia Güell is probably one of the lesser known Gaudí projects in Barcelona, the location is not as convenient as i is outside Barcelona city, in Santa Coloma de Cervelló. If you have visited Barcelona before, so you know the most known Gaudí buildings, this might be a good place to visit if you are into architecture and Gaudí nature dream world.
Eusebi Güell was Gaudí's sponsor known for the Park Güell, the Palau Güell and the Colònia Güell that I will show you around, he was an important entrepreneur during the XIX century.
A colònia, is a community where people live all together and there is everything you need to cover your needs in the everyday life, Colònia Güell was an industrial community where the workers of the factory lived, with all they needed to have their social life, buy the needed products. They lived in there with the company being the guardian or owner as you want to call it of the space.
Colònia Güell though was not as other industrial communities in Catalonia, Eusebi Güell added social improvements for his workers and promoted the culture as the sponsor he was for the city itself. The community has cultural buildings and religious with the church built by Gaudí and the modernist style present in the constructions as well.
The objective of this industrial communities was first of all the industrial production, the factory took care of its workers and provided them with a house inside the factory premises, in the community part where they had all services needed. In a time of scarcity, these communities were very appreciated by the workers as it brought security, with a permanent daily job in the factory.
At the beginning of the Civil War in Spain, the community was collectivized and in the end, it was managed by the same workers. When the war finished, the factory and the colònia were given back to the Güell family, and in 1945, the sold it to the family Bertrand i Serra.
During the coming years, the colònia kept on being alive with the industrial production of the factory and kept the concept of being the urban heart of the factory, being a compact space with all the needed services and building, working like a little town inside Santa Coloma de Cervelló town.
On 1973, the factory stopped its activity due to the crisis in the textile sector, this produced a big social impact since the workers not only lost their jobs but also their houses and their life in the community
In 1990, the Colònia Güell was declared as a Historic site of cultural interest and it started to apply a legal protection on the most relevant buildings in the community. This video that I have chosen below will help you imagine what your visit will look like and it shows the architectonic detail at the Colònia Güell.
Colònia Güell visit
The visit through the industrial community takes your attention for its modernist look and also for its origins in the XIX century that you can still feel. You can walk through the community buildings, and discover the modernist style as it was built by different modernist architects and shows the most important features of the genre.
You will go through the different building of the community:
Ca l’Ordal: is the only building built that recalls how the peasant houses, called "masies" where done, and this is where the farmers lived, they worked the fields of the area.
Ca L’Espinal: is where the administration of the company was located, and it is the building of the colònia that has the most quality.
Can Soler de la Torre: is a "masia" from XVII that used as a residence by the Güell family before the colònia was built. Next to the house there is a chapel dedicated to the Mare de Deu dels Dolors.
The secretary's house: this was the residence of the Colònia Güell administrator.
The school and the teacher's house: the colònia had a school for the worker's children, and the teacher lived in the same colònia in a house next to it.
- L’Ateneu Unió: this was a cultural house, where there was a bar, a library, a pool and there was also a choir that practiced in there.
El Teatre Fontova: A theatre where there were different kinds of performances to entertain the community.
The doctor's house: there was a medical service and also a permanent pharmacy.
- The cooperative: in the cooperative is where the workers bought the food supplies, and they paid religiously at the end of the week when they received the salary from the factory.
The Convent: it was the residence of the Carmelite nuns, they took care of the sick and took care of the babies of the workers.
- La Fonda: it was the "hotel" where the technicians stayed at when they visited the factory.
When Güell gives the project to Gaudí to build a church in the Colònia he says to him literally that he can do as he pleases. This means no budget limit, no guidance or prerequisites on how it has to be, neither a limit on the time to finish up the construction. This must have been a candy bar for Gaudí that he had limitless possibilities to do this church purely Gaudí style.
He started the church project on 1898 and after some previous studies, he created a miniature of the church to show what was the project finalized. On 1908 is when he started the construction of the temple, he wanted an ambitious project of a church with two naves that unfortunately he never finished. Ib 1914 the children of Eusebi Güell informed Gaudí that they wouldn't keep on investing the works for the church and he abandoned the project.
L'any 1.898 Eusebi Güell va encarregar a l'arquitecte Antoni Gaudí el projecte d'una església per a la Colònia Güell. Durant els anys següents Gaudí va realitzar diversos estudis previs que van culminar en una maqueta de l'església, instal·lada en el seu propi taller, situat en el mateix turó on s'aixecaria l'edifici.
Gaudí only managed to finish only the inferior nave in the church that was blessed by Barcelona's bishop, due to that fact the church started to be called popularly as the crypt. On 1917 a new constructor closed up the nave in the church.
The Gaudí Crypt, although it is still unfinished, it was the firs time in one unique building that eh included all his architectonic innovations. On 2005, the Gaudí Crypt was declared UNESCO Heritage site. Gaudí said that he would have had the chance to finish up the crypt, it would have been an incredible mockup of the monumental Sagrada Familia.
In the church, we can find catenary arches, the treatment of the interior space and the fusion between the building and nature, the different levels of he naves adapt themselves to the hill and the materials and colors are very similar to those of the land and the vegetation.
How to get to Colònia Gúell
As mentioned, the Colònia Güell is outside Barcelona city, you have different options of transports to get there:
If you get here by train(FGC), you have to get them at Plaça Espanya L8/S33 and get down at Colònia Güell stop, once you get off you have to cross the road and follow the blue steps along the floor that will take you to the Visitor's Center
If you get there on your own vehicle, you can park the car in the free parking and follow the indications to get to the Visitor's Center or you can park your car/bike in the streets of the Colonia Güell
WINTER 01.11 / 30.04: Weekdays 10h - 17h
Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays 10 - 15h
SUMMER 01.05 / 31.10: Weekdays 10 - 19h
Saturdays, Sundays, and Holidays 10 - 15h
Close: January 1st & 6th, Sunday March 20th, Friday March 25th, December 25th & 26th.
On May 16th we open from 10 am to 3 pm.
You can buy your ticket online in Colònia Güell, the tickets start at 9 euros including an audioguide and the visit to the Crypt and to the Colònia Güell There are also guided visits in Catalan and Spanish that cost 11,50 euros per person.
Disclaimer: Colonia Guell pictures by Alex Thompson