Parque Gulliver: Have a “Giant” Great Time at This Unique Spanish Playground

Posted by Andrea Shockling on Thursday, March 21st, 2013

Parque Gulliver in Valencia, Spain

One of the most iconic images in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels occurs immediately after the hero has landed in the country of Lilliput. The Lilliputians, frightened by his giant size in their tiny land, bind Gulliver prone on the ground to prevent his escape. This incredibly recognizable literary allusion influenced architect Rafael Rivera, artist Manolo Martin and designer Josep Vicent “Sento” Llobell Bisbal, in the design of their famous playground known as Parque Gulliver.

Gulliver's head at Parque Gulliver

This unique sculptural playground in Valencia, Spain is centrally located in the old Turia riverbed and surrounded by bridges. The Guardian Angel Bridge used to access the park gives children and their families a bird’s eye view of Gulliver’s form as they approach the playground. Parque Gulliver was commissioned by the city of Valencia in 1990, but despite its age, the playground has features that would be welcome in any modern play place. The sweeping curves of Gulliver’s rounded form make a natural climbing surface for children. Hidden steps provide quick access to multiple levels of ropes and ladders, and steep and shallow slides pepper Gulliver’s sides. Parque Gulliver is probably not the best playground for very young children, and there are far fewer safety measures such as the railings you would find at a domestic park. But for elementary-age children and even adults, the chance to climb a giant is just too much fun to pass up.

It reminds us of the golden age of playgrounds in the 1970s, when structures were wild and wacky and featured giant spaceships, satellite towers and robot themes. All too soon, the lawsuit-happy 1980s brought that creativity to a screeching halt, leaving us with the watered down, safe playgrounds we have today. Parque Gulliver is a refreshing reminder of those days of truly creative playgrounds.

Gulliver's hand at Parque Gulliver

Parque Gulliver was closed for four months in 2012 while it underwent a complete refurbishment for the first time since it opened. Gulliver received a coat of fresh paint for his fiberglass frame and new anti-skid measures on some of the steepest slides. Additional climbing ropes and nets were added, and landscaping was improved in and around the park area.  Equally important, the city added additional benches and restroom facilities adjacent to the playground to better meet the increased demand during the popular summer months. Parque Gulliver is a free playground, and frequented both by locals and tourists visiting this lovely Spanish city. It can get very crowded on weekends especially, so the extra comforts were a long-awaited but necessary move by the city.

Gulliver's foot at Parque Gulliver

The playground at Parque Gulliver has much in common with some of the other awesome playgrounds we’ve visited in the past. Sculptural play spaces are visually a lot of fun, offering a new take on the traditional chutes and ladders formula. And the ample climbing possibilities  – everything from steps to nets to giant hands and feet! – make Parque Gulliver the kind of playful experience visitors won’t soon forget.

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One response to “Parque Gulliver: Have a “Giant” Great Time at This Unique Spanish Playground”

  1. […] prevent future flooding. Situated in the Jardin, and, on the way to the Ciudad, is the awesome Park Gulliver. It’s a giant playground with slides, climbing ropes and walkways built out of a gigantic, […]

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