In July 1899 industrialist Eusebi Güell acquired a large estate on the Muntanya Pelada in Barcelona where he planned to build an extravagant development deep in the countryside with views over the city, based on the garden city model that was springing up in Great Britain at the time. His idea was to divide the land into 72 plots where each customer would build his own house. Güell commissioned development of the estate and the construction of communal amenities from Gaudí, who started work on the project in 1900. Two years later the first plot was sold, but in spite of all Güell's efforts no more were bought. In 1914, with the commercial failure of the initiative, Gaudí abandoned the works after completing the site's basic services. Nine years later, Barcelona City Council bought the Park Güell and opened it as a municipal garden.
Park Güell may have been a failure in business terms, but in architectural and urban development terms it has undoubtedly become one of the most successful and famous of the works of Gaudí, then nearing fifty and maturity as an artist. Inside the estate the architect built a network of paths fully integrated into their environment, compensating for the steep slope of the land by means of highly original viaducts and porticoes. There are several ways in, but the only one built by Gaudí was the main entrance, flanked by two pavilions, one a gatehouse and the other for services, featuring attractive and original soft shapes. Once inside a monumental stairway crowned by a fountain in the shape of a dragon beckons visitors to the central areas of the park: the hypostyle room, a space with 86 Greek-inspired columns designed to accommodate the market, and on top of this the great square which Gaudí surrounded with a unique serpentine bench, decorated with trencadis (ceramic fragments) by his collaborator, Josep Maria Jujol.