The stories of Ancient Greece come to life in the North of Barcelona. The Horta Labyrinth Park is the oldest garden in the city. A neoclassical plant paradise, designed at the end of the 18th century by the French landscaper Joseph Delvalet commissioned by the owner of the land, Joan Antoni Desvalls i d’Ardena, an illustrated aristocrat characterized by being a “son of his time”: interested in the arts, music, languages and with a refined taste for aesthetics and nature.
The jewel of the natural environment that forms the park, its greatest hallmark and what ultimately gives it its name, is its labyrinth. Located in the westernmost part of the garden, it is made up of 750 linear meters of cypresses cut into an exercise in topiary with perfectly straight lines.
At its entrance, an inscription refers to the most famous labyrinth of Antiquity, that of Crete in which the Minotaur lived:
Come in, you will come out bluntly,
the maze is simple,
there is no need for the ball
which Ariadne gave to Theseus.
It thus refers to the myth of the Greek hero, who went from Athens to Crete to avoid the annual sacrifice of more young people at the hands of the monster son of Minos. Ariadne, also the daughter of Minos, fell in love with Theseus and offered him a ball of yarn, which served to leave him following the entrance route after killing the Minotaur.
From the labyrinth created by the architect Daedalus, Horta’s also draws its trapezoidal double-edged ax shape (like the labrys of Ancient Greece). More in keeping with its time, the design stems from the Italian giardini d’amore, of Renaissance origin. Gardens that proposed some symbolic content tours, and that have inspired landscaping to this day: from Alice to the gardens of Versailles, great stories have the labyrinth as an active or passive protagonist.
In the center of the maze is a statue of Eros, the Greek god of love, on a pedestal. It is reached through eight entrances, marked by cypresses cut in the shape of an arch.
The exit from the labyrinth opens onto a markedly Neoclassical style terrace over a small circular pond. Excavated in a support wall of the terrace, the cave of Eco is located.
Another Greek myth that takes shape in the park, is with an image of the nymph made in terracotta and facing the pond in which her lover Narcissus reflected, who fell in love with his reflection and fell drowning.
At the ends of the terrace there are two separate temples also dedicated to characters from Greek mythology: one dedicated to Dánae, and another to Ariadna.
Text by Elena Minguela.
Analog pictures by MYBARRIO
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