good food + awesome travel & occasional odd bits

Colònia Güell, Gaudí and an Abandoned Castle

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Colònia Güell

Santa Coloma de Cervelló

Approximately 45 minutes outside of Barcelona amongst the pine woods is the tranquil village of Colónia Güell.  Eusebio Güell, a local businessman, set up the town and opened up a textile mill complete with village housing for workers, sponsored cultural activities, built a school, and offered workers a better social and economic life. It was considered a model society ahead of its time. After the Spanish Civil War, the expansive property was parceled off and sold in smaller lots mainly for residential dwellings. Today, the village retains its charm and visitors can pass by the textile factory, parish hall, and school which have been well preserved. The colonia is charming, however, it is Gaudí’s unfinished church that is the main draw. 

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Crypt at the Church of Colònia Güell

Colònia Güell/ Santa Coloma de Cervelló/website/

One of Gaudí’s unfinished projects, the crypt was commissioned by Eusebio Güell, in 1908. This was an ambitious project that was never fully realized. There was supposed to be an upper and lower level, but only the lower level crypt was completed. In 1914, the Güell family was no longer able to finance the project and construction ceased. Today, visitors are welcome into the crypt and the upper level where the church would have been is a look- out spot which is a good spot to view the town. 

Although not as splashy and extravagant as Gaudi’s better known works, a visit to Còlonia Güell is well worth the 45 minutes or so metro ride out of Barcelona. Here, visitors can breeze in and out with ease, there are no horrendous lines or large tour groups. On the day we went, we had it all to ourselves for the majority of the time. Arrive early and you’ll be rewarded with a tranquil visit and amazing architecture.

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Castillo Torre Salvana

Colonia Guell/Santa Coloma de Cervelló/

Dating from 992, this Romanesque, fortified castle has gone through some renovations over the years, but has long been vacant and deteriorating. It has a long history beginning with Torre d’Eles in the tenth century and later named after inhabitants, Salba family. Also known as the “Castle of Hell”, there are a few paranormal ghost stories swirling around this place. To tell you the truth, as much as I love a spooky story, the only creepy feeling I had was that there was definitely evidence of “residents”, squatters living there and I didn’t want to be there when they returned.

We first spotted it when walking through town. From a distance, we could see the tower and part of the castle walls. Luckily for us, there was a groundskeeper we came across in the town who didn’t mind telling us how to get to the structure. Basically, go through the forest, past the brush and you’ll be there. It’s a magnificent sight and I couldn’t help trespassing into the castle where there was a large hole in the exterior wall large enough to pass through. If you dare enter, beware of the fire ants that are on the ground and crawling all over the way in. If you’re adventurous, persevere, it will be worth it.

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