A pleasant retreat

Originally called the Parque del Buen Retiro, or “pleasant retreat,” is a public park since the late 19th century, in 1868. It hasn’t always been so, the 1.4 km2 (350 acres) at the edge of the city center was originally built as a retreat for the Spanish Monarchy – hence its name.

The park was planned in the 1550s and redesigned, adding a palace and a theatre, under the supervision of Gaspar de Guzmán, Conde-Duque de Olivares. Both buildings burned in 1734. King Ferdinand VI ordered the palace rebuilt, but it was razed during the Peninsular War; a remnant now serves as the War Museum.

Turn left for the actual track

Once upon a time, here lay the dam of Vallvidrera’s swamp that supplied drinking water to Sarrià. In the mid 1860’s it was a feat in engineering as it is a reservoir built with billets, 50 meters long, 3 meters wide and 15 meters high. Next to it, the Grott quarry was the one that took the water to its final destination. The quarry later became a 1.5km electric train track for passengers in an effort to create an amusement park called Lake Valley. The inside of the tunnel was lit up by different coloured lights.

The whole site is now a natural park protected to preserve some local fauna and provide hikers and walkers an opportunity to enjoy nature, stretch their legs and end up on the wrong path. Even if you do, there is still enough routes to enjoy in the area.

Parc Güell

This park was built between 1900 and 1914 and was officially opened as a public park in 1926. It was originally planned to be a housing estate with big gardens and green spaces for around 60 villas but only two houses were actually completed due to a lack of interest. One of which Gaudí lived in, though designed by architect Francesc Berenguer in 1904.

The park’s design, as all of Gaudí’s works, is built with the natural environment on which it was situated, taking advantage of the mountain it sits in, rather than fighting it. The park is in 17 hectares and includes rounded forms, columns that look like tree trunks, animal figures and mimics nature’s shapes. Most of the architectonic elements are decorated with mosaics made from colourful ceramic pieces with a technique called “trencadis” which Gaudí is said to have invented. The technique is used to cover structures with colourful mosaic, normally in odd shapes and pieces of ceramic, glass or marble tiles.

The park owes its name to Eusebi Güell who commissioned Antoni Gaudi for building Park Güell. Back in those days, the mountain was called “Muntanya Pelada” (bare mountain) because it was so barren. It is almost impossible to imagine what that might have looked like.

An ecological park

Opened in 2002, Mar Park Barcelona park spreads out around a series of paths that branch out in all directions like a tree and long concrete benches that resemble the waves of the sea. The park was built on a disused and old metal factory site where they used to built trains, trams, carriages for the metro, and escalators. The area is divided into seven large area each of which is meant to evoke different sensations. This prt has certainly evoked the sensation of curiosity for me. As I ran past it for the second time I couldn’t help but make a mental note to make a proper visit.

Bigger than Central Park

Kings Park is at least 15% bigger than the Central Park in NYC. At 400 hectares it is one of the largest inner city parks, and is visited by more than six million people each year.

The park sits in Mount Eliza and overlooks the beautiful Swan River, the city of Perth and its surrounding suburbs. The park is 2/3 bush and 1/3 is gardens, playgrounds and other areas. Ideal for walks, runs and picnics.

This place is sacred for Aboriginals. They believe that the Wagyl, a mythical serpent, entered the ground near the park and came out at the foot of Mount Eliza and created the Swan River.