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Labyrinth Park - maze - laberint
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The ParkThe Labyrinth Park of Horta is open every day from 10am till dusk. Entry fee is €2.17 for adults, and there are reduced and free rates for children and senior citizens. There are also guided tours of the park, which cost €1.80 per person
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The ArchitectureThe oldest garden in the city, it was designed in the neoclassical style at the end of the 18th century by Italian Domenico Bagutti, French gardener Delvaletat and Catalan builder Jaume Valls
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The LabyrinthThe maze from which the park gets its name is made from about 750 metres of trimmed cypress trees. When (or if) you get to the centre of the maze, you'll find a statue of Eros, representing playful and carefree love
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Hidden awayThe park is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Barcelona, but many people don't know about it and never visit
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How to get thereTo get to the park, take the metro to Mundet: L3 (towards Canyelles) When you come out of Mundet metro station, it's a 15 minute walk uphill, but not too steep
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The HistoryThe park is on the grounds of the estate of the Duke of Llupià, Poal and Alfarràs, who originally commissioned the garden. The Desvalls family owned the property until the Seventies when it was bought by Barcelona council. In 1971, it opened as a public park and following a major restoration project in 1994, was transformed into a 'garden museum'
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SculpturesDotted around the park are various sculptures, some depicting images from Greek mythology. Pictured is a statue of the water nymph Egeria
Located on the northern edge of the city, the Parc del Laberint is Barcelona's version of Granada's Alhambra, a stunning royal estate surrounded with an exquisite interplay of gardens and fountains. Water is a fundamental element of the garden and is present in all areas in different forms: waterfalls, streams, ponds and canals, and it irrigates the natural pine forest on the perimeter of the park. With Moorish arches and grottos with Greek gods, the gardens showcase an eclectic touch of Arabic, Mediterranean, Neoclassical and Romantic styles.
The Parc del Laberint, the oldest garden in Barcelona, covering over 18 acres, has a long history. It is one of the remaining vestiges of the extravagance of the Spanish monarchy in Catalunya. In 1791, Antoni Desvalls, marquis of Llupiaand Alfarrás, began landscaping the property of his estate then located on the outskirst of the city. The park still has many traces of the idyllic lifestyle of the marquis, including a monument constructed to commemorate a splendid afternoon spent in the company of the king's nephew and his new bride.
The labyrinth, a series of tall two-metre-high hedges that link together in a maze formation, makes up the central element of the park. The design of the hedge maze beautifully re-enacts the original mythology of the labyrinth. At its entrance, the visitor finds a classical frieze depicting Minos welcoming Theseus's arrival in Crete on his mission to enter the labyrinth and destroy its inhabitant, the human-eating Minotaur (a half-bull, half-human monster). Theseus proceeded to fall in love with Minos's daughter Ariadne. Likewise, the successful visitor to the maze will follow the correct paths to reach the labyrinth's centre and find 'love' - embodied by a statue of Cupid - and then carefully retrace his or her steps to escape.
Close by the labyrinth is the temple of Ariadne: a small temple with a dome held up by Tuscan columns holding a life-sized marble sculpture of the figure. However, a wrong turn on the return from the centre can lead down to another exit from the Labyrinth and to eternal unfulfilled love - represented by the sculpture of Echo, the forest nymph, who hopelessly fell in love with Narcissus who was unable to love her back, nor anyone beyond himself.
In the middle of the 19th century, the marquis's successors expanded the park with a Romantic garden. The expansion of the park takes on a less orderly form with a greater variety of plants, large trees with dense foliage, and a natural-looking waterfall that gives more of the sensation of a landscaped forest than a royal garden. It is the most meditative and isolated area of the park and, perhaps, the best place for privacy for lovers, or just anyone who wants privacy - a reclusive nun once took up residence there in a small cabin, according to the brochure about the park issued by the Ajuntament's Parcs i Jardins department.
In a section of the park above the Romantic garden, a charming canal can be found full of swans and ducks and a picturesque bridge. The canal was part of an ingenious system of irrigation installed in 1853 that connected the waterfall, the fountains, streams and ponds in a circuit so that water wasn't wasted. Above the canal, a rectangular neoclassical pavillion with a pond makes up the top level of the park. The pavilion served as the principal site for social gatherings and is decorated with beautiful friezes that make allusions to Greek and Roman mythology.
The pond serves as the water reserve to irrigate the gardens below. The park offers a great escape for the day from from the streets of the city, a quiet and meditative place to disconnect.
First published September 2006. August 2010 update:
TO GET THERE: Metro line 3 (green) to Mundet and follow the signs to the Parc del Laberint d'Horta or you can take buses 27, 60, 73 or 76.
OPENING TIMES: December, January and February daily from 10am-6pm, March and November daily from 10am-7pm, April and October daily from 10am-8pm and from May to September open 10am-9pm.
ACCESS: The park has recently been made more accessible for disabled visitors.
ADMISSION: €2.17 (adults). Reduced rate for children and the elderly. Guided tours cost an extra €1.80.
HOURS: Open seven days a week, 10am to dusk