Catalan entrepreneur Eusebi Güell launched the construction of the Colonia Güell in 1890 on his country estate Can Soler de la Torre, in the region of Baix Llobregat, about 20km from Barcelona.
Güell sought to create an improved environment for textile workers away from the social conflicts within the city of Barcelona. The project included a hospital, schools, shops, a chapel, along with factories and workers housing.
However, in time trade unions and the workers movement took hold in the colony. At the beginning of the Spanish Civil War the mill was collectivized and run by its workers. After the war, the mill was given back to its owner, the Güell family who in 1945 sold it to the Bertrand y Serra family.
Over the next few years the mill continued its industrial production and to develop its own municipal personality, separate to that of the neighboring town Santa Coloma de Cervelló which began to grow and surpass the colony terms of population during the 1960’s.
During the urban development of the 1960’s and 70’s, Colonia Güell remained intact as its primary focus was still textile production. However, during the textile crisis of 1973 the mill ceased its production and over the following years, the property was sold. The mill was divided and sold, the houses to their inhabitants and the facilities and land to public institutions.
Antoni Gaudi’s work focused on the building of the crypt of the church. It incorporates for the first time many of his architectural innovations. The unfinished church laid the groundwork for the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Gaudi said had the church been finished, it would have been a “monumental model of the Sagrada Familia”.
The old textile factory occupies the nearly six hectares that now form the industrial area of Colonia Güell. Restoration began in 2000 to transform the industrial area into a business park with a capacity for up to 6,000 employees. Architect Oscar Tusquets participated in the project, having previously worked on the remodeling of cultural landmarks such as the Palau de la Música Catalana. Currently the factory is used as a business center and tourists are not allowed to enter.
Ca L’Espinal by Joan Rubió i Bellver. The building takes its name after Mr. Espinal who was the manager of the textile factory.
In 1990, Colonia Güell was declared a heritage site of cultural interest by the Spanish government. Protection of its most important buildings was established along with the building standards for the future.
You can reach Colonia Güell by public transport on the Ferrocarriles de la Generalitat de Catalunya (FGC). The train to Colonia Güell station leaves from Plaza España station on the lines S33, S4 and S8.