• Europe’s Great City Parks

    by  • November 11, 2013 • Amsterdam, Barcelona, City Breaks, Munich, Nature

    Many European cities can boast wonderful public open spaces. Here are just three of Europe’s best city parks.

    Parc Guell – Barcelona

    Parc Guell is one of the most important sights in Barcelona and one of Gaudi’s masterpieces.  Gaudi planned and directed the construction of the park from 1900 to 1914 for Eusebi Guell for a residential park intended for sixty single- family residences.  The project, however, was unsuccessful and the park became city property in 1923, though a Parc Guell is a park unlike any other. The park contains a number of the visionary’s daring trademarks – swooping architectural curves, fantastical towers and minarets and surfaces clad in elaborate mosaics.  A multi-coloured mosaic lizard ‘guards’ the main entrance and a long curving bench curls around a viewing terrace as if impersonating a snake.  A controversial  €8 (£6.80) admission fee has just been introduced for the park,  as well as new restrictions on visitor numbers to help protect this Unesco World Heritage site.

    The English Garten – Munich

    Munich’s 18th-century EnglishGarden (Englische Garten) was the first public garden on the European continent and is still considered one of the largest urban parks in the world.  The EnglishGarden was created in the late 1700s when Archduke and Elector Carl Theodor took it upon himself to transform the city. The park was given the name Englische Garten because it was laid out in the style of an English country park.  The park is divided into 2 sections: the peaceful Hirschau and the busier southern section.  The park is a great favourite with cyclists, joggers and also with naturists – the area between the Japanese tea garden and Greek temple, nicknamed the Beautiful Meadow, has become very popular for nude sunbathing.  The Chinesischer Turm, built in the style of the Great Pagoda in Kew Gardens,  houses Munich’s second largest beer garden. The tower has burned down several times over the years, but each time it has been rebuilt true to the design of the original.  A Japanese teahouse, built in 1972 to celebrate the summer Olympics, hosts regular traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.

     Vondelpark –  Amsterdam

    The Vondelpark is the largest city park in Amsterdam, and probably the most famous park in the Netherlands. The park is centrally located south of Leidseplein and near the Rijksmuseum, Stedelijk Museum and Van Gogh Museum, making it easy for visitors to pop in for a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The park was designed in the late 19th century by the landscape architect Jan David Zocher  in the then fashionable English landscape style

     Free concerts are given at the open-air theatre or in the summer at the park’s bandstand. Other attractions are the statue of the poet Vondel, the cast iron music dome, the Groot Melkhuis with its playground for children, and the historical Pavilion with its restaurant which has a terrace which is very popular in summer.  The park has many beautiful old plane trees, horse chestnuts, Dutch red chestnuts, catalpas and different sorts of birch trees. The Vondelpark is also a home to many birds – wild ducks, blue herons and many smaller birds.