Horta’s Labyrinth Park

This park is home to the oldest garden in the city and is an example of the neoclassical gardens of the 18th century, with a touch of Italian physiognomy. Its name comes from the labyrinth of cypress bushes that is located at the lower part of the park.

Without any doubt this is a maze waiting to be solved. Decisions, hypotheses, theories are part of a solution that does not always come along the same pathway. Each shortcut, alternative, each new decision opens a new perspective. Think about this while trying to unravel the labyrinth of the park, while walking between well-kept walls of cypress (cupressus sempervirens) on your way to the center of this garden. Once there, if you cannot find the heart of this park then it must have been stolen away, so ask Eros. You will find his sculpture in the middle of the maze, where you should have found a Minotaur, and you will get there following your sense of direction, sooner or later. With the excitement of knowing where you are again in the world, you will again be in a position to face the park´s second maze, a more intellectual one: Am I in a neoclassical or romantic garden?

We look around. The garden will provide arguments on both sides. Symmetry, topiary art and regular gardening, temples with Tuscan columns, fountains and springs, mythological sculptures, a neoclassical pavilion dedicated to the Muses, and on the other hand, the sound of water released in a waterfall and a stream on a bed of stones, moss and wild plants, wild and more shady gardens, upholstered in ivy and love flower, irregular tree arrangements of yew, pines, plane trees and huge lime trees and even a fake cemetery. Alongside, sensitive and wild greens, controlled nature and the wild. They are elements that mark out the different stages of growth of the park that started out neoclassic in 1791, and grew, and ended up a romantic park, completed in 1853.

That is why the Labyrinth Park of Horta is a garden-museum. And its discourse as a museum shows this duality as we take a tour around it. The walk leads us to a Chinese doorway, a remnant of an oriental garden that has since has disappeared. We continue through the garden of boxwood (buxus sempervirens), a secret garden that preserves the spirit of the designer, landscaper and gardener Italian, domenico Bagutti, creator of the park on behalf of Anthoni Desvalls, Marquess de Llupià i Alfarràs. From this garden, borne out of a careful pruning, pathways lead towards the small temples of Ariadna and Danae, to the domestic garden and the romantic gardens that take up the left-side of the park.

Before entering completely into the park we pass through a domestic garden where we find a linden (tilia tomentosa) and a Himalayan cedar (cedrus deodara) which features in the catalog of trees of local interest. At the sides we also find yew (taxus baccata), cocula (cocculus laurifolius) and a large Jupiter tree (lagerstroemia indica) plus a planting of camellia.

If we choose to go to the temples and the neoclassical pavilion overlooking the park from the top of the three terraces, we find an interesting unusual alignment of oaks (quercus ilex) encircled in a fence made of bay (laurus nobilis ) that provides shade to the pathway. You will find examples of a redwood (sequoia sempervirens), which form part of the catalog of trees of local interest. If we take a detour through other pathways we find more oak (quercus ilex) trees, and the hyoscyamus albus and agapanthus umbellatus.

Before arriving at the temples, the labyrinth's temptation appears in the form of imposing walls of cypress (Curprssus sempervirens). This is an island of peace, with the imposing presence of the trees that surround it like holm oak (quercus ilex), pines (pinus halepensis and Pinus pinea) and oak (quercus robur), which give it an even more sheltered atmosphere.

Rising to the challenge, from the centre of the maze we can see the to the right and left the temples and the central stairs and neoclassical pavilion, also by Domenico Bagutti. Leaving the labyrinth, going towards the pavilion we follow a romantic waterway, originally which could be sailed down. Behind the pavilion there is a large pond that thanks to its position at the highest point of the garden supplies water games and springs in the lower part of the pathway that froth up due to gravity.
The flow of water marks the border between the two worlds of the park. Thus the abrupt disappearance of the water channel changes into a tamed cascade, leaving the channel way of the water. The scenery is also suited to the vegetation that also breaks up the established order and then becomes wilder. On this journey we find a farmer´s shelter dug out from the rock and a hermit's cabin, a log cabin, and we walk surrounded by oaks (quercus), pine (pinus pinea and pinus canariensis) and bushes with abundant vegetation like euonymus japonicus, viburnum tinus, laurel (laurus nobilis) and pittosporum (pittosporum tobira) and Japanese barberry (berberis thumbergi). The ivy (hedera helix) takes over this wet and shady surrounding.

This takes us to our last stop, the false cemetery with its carpets of love flowers, agapi (agaphantus umbellatus) and clumps of ferns (nephrolepis exaltata), boxwood (buxus sempervirens), broom (ruscus aculeatus). The largest trees include yew (taxus baccata), laurel (laurus nobilis), oak (quercus pubencens), flowering ash (fraxinus ornus), plane (platanus x hispanica) and lime (tilia europaea).


The park is on the grounds of an estate of the duke of Llupià, Poal and Alfarràs, a very erudite man who commissioned the work to the Italian Domenico Bagutti, who worked on it until 1808. French gardener Delvalet designed the plantings, with the Catalan master builder Jaume Valls supervising the work. The Desvalls family maintained the property until the 70s, when it was bought by the Town Council. It was opened as a public park in 1971, and a major restoration in 1994 transformed it into a garden museum.


Passeig dels Castanyers, 1-17
Passeig dels Castanyers and C/ Germans Desvalls
9.10 hectares
10:00 until dusk. Acces of payment.
How to arrive
How to get there
  • Fountain
  • Bar and toilets
  • Parking
  • Children's play area
  • Picnic area
  • No dogs allowed
  • Accessible path
  • Ticket office and garden museum
  • Palace
  • Centre de Formació del Laberint (Educational centre)
  • Parks and Gardens Library
Architecture, art and sculptures

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