In 1900 the construction of the popular Park Güell was begun in Barcelona, which at the time was a modern, cosmopolitan city that based its economy on the strength of its industry and had a population of over half a million inhabitants.
The Universal Exhibition of 1888 showed Europe and the rest of the world the dynamic thrust of the capital of Catalonia, and was the trigger for the quest for a new artistic expression and urban representation.
In 1886 Eusebi Güell entrusted Gaudí with the construction of his new residence, Palau Güell, in Carrer Nou de la Rambla, in the old part of the city. Later on, in 1895, Gaudí went on to build a wine cellar outside Barcelona in Garraf, with the collaboration of Francesc Berenguer, and in 1898 he was commissioned to build the church of the Colònia Güell, home to the workers from the large textile factory that the industrialist owned on the outskirts of the city. Finally, in 1900, Gaudí was commissioned to undertake the project of Park Güell.
Güell understood the meaning of Gaudí’s architecture better than any of his contemporaries. For many years the Güell family occupied the stately home (which today is a school) that stood on the land where the development was located, while Gaudí lived in one of the two houses that were built there.
In the businessman’s own lifetime, the park was already considered to be one of the great tourist attractions of Barcelona, and its large square was often used to stage pro-Catalan social and civic events, such as dancing sardanas, the national dance of Catalonia.