In 2016 the Park Güell Monumental Axis had 2,958,901 visitors (79.4% of top capacity), entailing a reduction of the mass tourist overcrowding existing before regulation, when this figure regularly reached nine million visitors per year. The pressure to which the Park Güell Monument Hub was subjected before regulation increased progressively year after year. For this reason, in 2013 the process of partial regulation was started (approximately 8.9% of the Park’s total area), with the aim of guaranteeing the conversation of the most sensitive architectural heritage.
Park Güell has a total area of 19.2 hectares, with the Monumental Area covering 11.2, and the rest is a wooded park. The Monumental Axis, the object of regulation, has an area of 1.7 hectares, and is part of the Monumental Area.
Remember that the entirety of the Park Güell Monumental Area was declared historic-artistic heritage by the Spanish state in 1969, and was later added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1984. The Catalan Autonomous Government declared it a Cultural Asset of National Interest (BCIN per its Catalan acronym) in 1993.
Recognition by UNESCO was attained due to Antoni Gaudí’s exceptional creative contribution to the development of architecture and the construction technology at the end of the 19th and 20th century. Its inclusion of his works on the list of World Heritage is acknowledgement of its exceptional universal value.
The tourist regulation of Park Güell is done in the Park’s most vulnerable area, known as the Monumental Axis, based on previous capacity studies conducted in 2010.The operating rules established distribute the load throughout the day, with a cap of 400 visitors each half hour, letting the Park be managed under conservation criteria, decreasing pressure in the surrounding area and creating a suitable visitor experience.
Since the start-up of the regulation, the Park Güell Monumental Area has become more balanced and the flows of people better rationalised. The peak months of tourist inflows to the Park Güell Monument Hub in 2016 were focused in summer, with slightly more than 307,000 visitors during the months of July and August. Conversely, the months with the least visitors are during the winter, especially January, with a figure of some 165,500 visitors.
During 2016, there was an extremely significant increase in the number of visitors who planned their visit and bought tickets in advance on the website www.parkguell.cat. Overall, 67.11% of total visitors to Park Güell’s Monumental Axis bought their tickets online, representing a year-on-year increase of 16.31%.
Profile of the individual visitor
Among the visitors who bought their tickets directly at the Park Güell ticket offices, statistical data were collected that assist us with shaping a general visitor profile. Among the most significant data, we would like to point out that almost half of visitors travelled to the Park on the metro (48%), followed by city buses (30%) and the tourist bus (8%). To a lesser degree, visitors arrived on foot (8%), in taxi (4%) and in cars (2%).
With regard to the origin of visitors who bought tickets at ticket offices, it is very diverse and the results are therefore very distributed. At the top of the list are Italy, France and Latin America, with 16%, 12% and 11%, respectively. Users from other European countries were also prominent, including the British (8%) and Germans (6%), along with North Americans (8%). Spain is included in the statistics for this block of countries, with a representation of 7%. There is also a large presence of other European countries (9%). These data only represent the origin of visitors who bought their tickets in situ, at Park Güell, and do not consider those who bought them on the website, on which there is a greater prominence of countries like the France, the United States and other European countries.
Almost half of those interviewed bought their tickets at the offices located on Passatge de Sant Josep de la Muntanya (38.5%).The second most popular choice was the ticket office on Carretera del Carmel (33.5%) and, finally, 27.83% bought their tickets at the office on Carrer d’Olot.
Agencies and organised groups
Regarding visitors from agencies and group tours, at the close of 2016 a total of 7900 registered tour operators were tallied, representing a year-on-year growth of 40.62%. The origin of the agencies that visited the Park Güell Monumental Axis was analysed, excluding school groups and agencies that only made a single booking. The latter were considered as not representative, as these agencies did not make ongoing bookings.
Of those in Spain, out of the 461 agencies considered, 282 are based in Catalonia, where this figure stands at 61.17%. Of this total number, 52.28% come from the province of Barcelona and 18.73% from Madrid. In third place was the province of Girona, whose 35 agencies represent 7.70% of the total. Finally, those with offices in Malaga (3.83%) merit mention.
With regard to the number of visitors, agencies based in Barcelona provided 40.72% of the visitors from all of Spain, followed by Madrid with 38.84%. In third place, the agencies from the Balearic Islands contributed 6.45% of visitors.
Compared to other countries, we should point out that Spanish agencies represented 51.74%, followed by those from France (8.22%), Belgium (5.14%) and Great Britain (4.56%). With regard to the number of overall visitors, the majority came from Spanish agencies (74.71%). Following at a great distance were British agencies (4.13%), French (3.49%) and Swiss (3.45%) agencies.
Work to disseminate Park Güell’s exceptional universal value to visitors
In 2016, work to disseminate Park Güell’s exceptional universal value to visitors to the Monumental Axis (regulated area) consisted of:
• The start-up of a guided tour programme at the end of 2015 led to a total of 4556 tours in different languages during 2016 (primarily Catalan, Spanish, English and French, but also in Italian, Portuguese and Russian) with a total of 49,593 visitors.
• The Park Güell Monument Hub App, free and available in seven languages, was downloaded 180,424 times, an increase of 58% from 2015. The Park also has 79,653 fans on Facebook and 3396 followers on Instagram.
• The information brochures on the historical context in the city of Barcelona since the mid-19th century and of the Park Güell Monumental Area, was being distributed to 90% of all visitors to the Park Güell Monument Hub by the beginning of the 20th century.
School programmes at Park Güell
A total of 80,760 students and teachers (2116 school groups) from the European Union had the chance to enjoy the free visit programme to the Park Güell Monumental Axis (regulated area) in the framework of the ‘Park Güell and Schools’ programme. Of these, 8887 students and teachers (364 groups) chose the guided tour. This service was offered jointly by BSM and the Barcelona City History Museum (MUHBA), representing 11.00% of the students that chose this plan.
Moreover, and through MUHBA in the framework of the School Activities Programme coordinated by the Educational Coordination Council of Barcelona (CCP) and Educational Resource Centres (CRP), different educational proposals are offered under the title ‘Interrogating Barcelona’, with participation of 1378 students and teachers from 50 school groups in the city of Barcelona during 2016. This offering contains different proposals for students from kindergarten to higher secondary, with teaching materials included.
In the scope of the Gràcia district, in collaboration with the Gràcia CRP and the MUHBA, the activities ‘Trencadís Mosaics of Sounds and Colours’, for day-care schools (302 participants: 213 children and 89 adults) and ‘Park Güell Sport and Culture’ for primary schools (690 participants).
These permanent activities were complemented with other more personalised and unique activities. For example, one visit took advantage of the remodelling of the inner part of the bench in Nature Plaza that was being executed by the Historic Heritage Department of the City Council. Years 4, 5 and 6 of the Baldiri Reixac School (located in the actual Monumental Axis) had an outing to the restoration works on this unique architectural piece, where students could ask questions and talk to the restorers (May 2016).
Neighbours and surrounding schools
In the action plan, a basic strategic line is kept to keep ensuring that Park Güell will remain a meeting place for neighbours and residents, and not merely natural and architectural heritage that attracts a large number of tourists. During its history, Park Güell has been a place for meeting up and citizen participation, an important identifying symbol for the people of Barcelona but, above all, for the neighbours in the surrounding neighbourhoods. For this reason, actions have been carried out to ensure access and free traffic flows through the regulated area by the seven surrounding schools, as well as for the residents of the five adjacent neighbourhoods. In this regard, in 2016 over 57,000 residents and students have freely walked through the Monumental Axis in their daily journeys or have used the area as a leisure space.
.Boys and girls attending the schools of Baldiri Reixac, Reina Elisenda, Cor de Maria, Jesuïtes de Gràcia, Petit Virolai, Turó del Cargol and the Montseny School have the right to request up to 10 free access cards to the Monumental Axis. The seven schools involved have received a total of 9135 cards at the end of 2016 (2922 students and 6213 family members and school staff).
.Residents registered in the neighbourhoods of Salut, Vallcarca-Penitents, El Coll, Can Baró and El Carmel also have the right to request free access cards. The procedure can be done easily by ringing 010, on the municipal website or in person at the Citizen Information and Service Offices of Horta-Guinardó and Gràcia. At the end of 2016, a total of 40,934 cards had been distributed, which translates into 53.62% of people who have the right to request a card, due to being registered as residents of these neighbourhoods.
Moreover and during 2016, Park Güell tallied a total of 108,859 people registered with the ‘Gaudir Més Barcelona’ cultural programme (Enjoy More). The programme lets users have a free daily ticket for visiting the Monumental Axis, among other advantages. Gaudir Més Barcelona is totally free and is open to all residents. To register, interested parties just need to go into the Barcelona City Council’s Citizen Services Office and, seven days later, they can start using and benefiting from its advantages. During 2016, some 8500 people entered the Park Güell Monumental Axis for free, due to being registered with this programme.
Projects and works on the Park Güell architectural and natural heritage and the surrounding area
In the framework of the commission by the Barcelona City Council Governance Committee dated 05/05/16 to BSM (actions and execution of works from 2015-2018 for the amount of 10.6 million euros), 7 projects were approved for actions and works on Park Güell and its surroundings, to partly reinvest the ticket prices paid by visitors to the Monumental Axis for a total amount of 4.46 million euros (two for restoration of architectural heritage, one for improving natural heritage, and four in the surrounding area).
Likewise, at the beginning of August 2016 and after they had been restored, the four ceramic and glass medallions by Josep Maria Jujol were hung again in Hypostyle Hall, which represent the four suns. All works executed entailed an investment of 284,350 euros.
The regulation model, which only affects 8.9% of the total area of the Park, has led to making progress in the goal of resolving the space’s sustainability and overcrowding challenges and improving visitors’ experience, taking different sensibilities into account, as well as the Park’s multiplicity of uses and the singularity of this exceptional space.
During 2017, a good part of the works on the architectural and natural heritage and area surrounding Park Güell will be executed, employing part of the ticket prices paid by visitors to the Monumental Axis, for which the Barcelona City Council Governance Committee commissioned BSM to do in the 2015-2018 period.