Porch of the Colonia Guell Church by Gaudi (Barcelona, Spain)


Barcelona was one of the most important poles of the Industrial Revolution in Spain. At the beginning the factories piled up in the subburbs of the city, attracting thousands of poor peasants to work as labor in very hard living conditions. But soon anarchism started stirring up the violence of the working class agains their patrons. And industrial Colonies such as Colonia Guell appeared as a means to keep their workers controlled and isolated from the anarchist influences.

An industrial colony was a sort of community organized around a factory, where the workers were provided housing, education for their children, access to cultural activites and religious services and affordable food and home supplies. A worker should never feel the need of leaving the industrial colony to fullfill their basic needs. Named after their patron and owner, Colonia Guell is one of the best examples of industrial colonies you can explore near Barcelona. With the bonus of visiting one of the most remarkable Antoni Gaudi’s hidden gems: Cripta Guell, the village church.

Basic facts about La Colònia Güell


Brief summary of the Colonia Guell history

Sketches of the Gaudi Crypt in Guell Colony

Joan Güell, father of Eusebi Güell – Antoni Gaudi’s patron and best friend, founded the textile factory Vapor Vell in 1848, in the Barcelona subburb of Sants. Soon violence arises, and during a general strike the manager of the factory was killed in a riot. Some years later Joan Güell purchases a large state in the town of Santa Coloma de Cervello, not too far from Barcelona. There his son would promote the construction of a new factory with an adjacent industrial colony when his father passed away: the Colonia Guell.

Antoni Gaudi designed the urbanism of the village, based on three key points: the factory, the church and the school, each in one end of it. His collaborators Francesc Berenguer and Joan Rubió worked also on the project, that included coooperative shops, health services, a theater, a community center, a school with a home for the teacher, as well as a parish church – this last one to be built by Antoni Gaudi himself.

The community lived quite peacefully and satisfied, and the workers didn’t cause remarkable issues, rather feeling attached to the factory and helping to keep it open during the Spanish Civil War. The Guell Colony changed hands during the 1940’s, until its final closing in the 1970’s due to the economical crisis. In 2002 the factory building was acquired by a dutch company that refurbished for office purposes and the Gaudi Crypt was restored. The rest of the colony has become a trajquil working class village.

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