Colonia Guell history
The Church
The Factory
The village
The setting
Visiting the Colony
World Heritage Site
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  Aerial view of the Colònia Güell
  Year 2000
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HISTORICAL OVERVIEW imprimir aquesta pàgina

The Colònia Güell was first set up in 1890 on the initiative of Eusebi Güell, a businessman, at his Can Soler de la Torre estate, in the municipality of Santa Coloma de Cervelló, where he moved his textile busines from Sants, now part of Barcelona.

Social conflicts in Barcelona at that time led him to set up the new factory equipped with the latest technology- outside the city on a model industrial estate, with the workers’ houses alongside the factory, forming an urban complex with its own character, and social and economic life, supervised by the company.

Unlike the majority of industrial estate owners in Catalonia, Eusebi Güell improved social conditions for is workers and sponsored cultural activities. He provided cultural and religious amenities at the Colònia Güell, which were built in the current Modernista style by various architects whomhe commissioned, notably Antoni Gaudí, who was responsible for the church.

The talent of master builders is also displayed on many buildings, which is particularly evident in the variety of cornices and details on the facades.

Industrial colonies were conceived as socio-economic organisations that had industrial production as their primary purpose. The factory occupied the greater part of the time of each colony’s men and women and for them the factory meant the assurance of receiving a regular wage in a period marked by economic instability.

Even so, with the passing of time the trade union movements and worker demands came to reach the Colònia Güell.

At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the factory was collectivised and placed under the management of its workers. At the end of the war in 1939, it was returned to the Güell family, who sold it to the Bertrand i Serra family in 1945.

After that the Colony carried on with its industrial production and the urban core maintained its differentiated personality with respect to Santa Coloma de Cervelló, where the population began to grow until it finally came to exceed that of the Colònia Güell in the 1960s.

The Colony was preserved from the uncontrolled urban growth of the 1960s and 70s since it remained as an almost compact property with industrial production as its primary purpose.

With the textile industry crisis as a backdrop, the factory closed down in 1973. Its closure had a large social impact on the Colony. The property began to be sold off in the following years: the factory was sold in sections to diverse companies, the houses to their inhabitants, and the facilities and land in the surrounding area to public institutions.

The whole Colònia Güell was declared a Property of Cultural Interest and Historical Ensemble in 1990, establishing the protection of the foremost buildings and of the general construction features.

At the turn of the 21st century, the rehabilitation work began on the factory, the church, the old consumption cooperative, and the Plaça de Joan Güell, and improvement works began on the pinewoods in the surroundings and on the Gaudí path. In the year 2002 (International Gaudí Year), the new visitors’ parking area was built and an organisation of the visits service was implemented for the ensemble of the Colony.




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