The Colonia Guell is a workers’ settlement in the Garden City style built by the Catalan textile entrepreneur Eusebi Güell (1846-1918) around his principal factory that he re-located to Santa Coloma de Cervello from a site at Sants in present-day Barcelona in 1890. The new factory, in brick in the style of contemporary cotton mills in the Manchester region, was designed by the architect Ferran Alsina (1861-1908) and occupies a 6 ha site.
The business was collectivised during the Spanish Civil War, but was returned in 1939 to the control of the Guell family, who sold it in 1945. The factory closed in 1973, and has since been rehabilitated by a company that, amongst other activities, arranges guided tours of the building and of the colony.
The best known building in the Colonia Güell is the crypt of a church designed by Gaudi, construction of which began in 1899. Guell’s company began to lose money and construction was abandoned when the crypt was completed in 1915. The crypt is regarded as one of Gaudi’s masterpieces, and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes his principal buildings in the Barcelona region. A programme of restoration began in 2000.