Everywhere you go in Barcelona, you’ll see his influence and his buildings. Antoni Gaudi is to Barcelona as Frank Lloyd Wright is to Chicago. Gaudi is Barcelona’s most famous architect- not only because of his tragic death getting killed by a tram, but also because of his unique style, use of nature, and catalog of work. Antoni Gaudi was a Spanish Catalan architect who belonged to the Art Nouveau movement. Gaudí’s first designed in the style of Gothic and traditional Catalan architectural modes, but he soon developed his own famous style. He even developed a new method of structural calculation based on a model built with cords and sacks of lead. His work is a real visual treat. If you like unique architecture, consider doing something different in Barcelona and take a tour of Gaudi’s works:
La Sagrada Familia
The most famous of Gaudi’s work, this church has been in construction for more than 100 years. Gaudi was a devout Catholic and spent over 10 years working just on this project. He put everything he had into it. It is supposed to be finished in 2030 but you never know with how slow everything is going. The church blends man, nature, and religion in its detailed architecture. There is also a really great audio tour that fills in a lot of the gaps about the structure and is worth the rental fee. This is one of the most popular destinations in Barcelona so expect long lines.
Gaudi Lamppost, Placia Real
The first commission that Gaudí received as an official from the city was to construct street lamps for the city. He designed them with three and six arms, crowned by a winged helmet, symbol of the commercial power of Barcelona. They are all gone now except for the ones that remain in the Placia Real off La Rambla. They are a lot more interesting than the modern ones that dot the city.
Casa Batllo is a building restored by Antoni Gaudí in the early 1900s. It is located in the Eixample district of Barcelona and, like everything Gaudí designed, heavy on the Art Nouveau. The facade is decorated with a mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles that starts in shades of golden orange moving into greenish blues. The roof is arched and has been likened to the back of a dragon. It’s one of my favorite Gaudi buildings.
Located off La Rambla, this building doesn’t jump out at you like other Gaudi structures. The home is centered on a main room for entertaining high society guests. The main party room has a high ceiling with small holes near the top where lanterns were hung at night from the outside to give the appearance of a starlit sky. There are colorful tree like chimneys on top. It’s easily missed so keep your eye out.
Park Güell is a garden complex, designed and built in the years 1900 to 1914. It is part of the UNESCO. It has since been converted into a municipal garden. The focal point of the park is the main terrace, surrounded by a long bench in the form of a sea serpent. The park is right near La Sagrada Familia and you can buy joint tickets for that and Gaudi’s house, which is located in the park.
Casa Calvet was built for a textile manufacturer in the Eixample district of Barcelona. This building is the most conventional of his works, partly because it had to be squeezed in between older structures and partly because it is in one of the nicest sections of Barcelona. The house’s symmetry, balance and orderly rhythm are unusual for Gaudí’s works. However, the curves and double gable at the top, and the projecting oriel at the entrance are modernista elements.
Casa Vicens was Gaudí’s first important work. The house is constructed of undressed stone, rough red bricks, and colored ceramic tiles in checkerboard and floral patterns. The owner was the owner of a brick and tile factory, so the ceramic tiles pay tribute to his employment. (The tiles were made by the owner.) It’s not one of the more pretty Gaudi sites but the plus side is that there isn’t a big line.
Built for a married couple, Gaudi, a Catholic and a devotee of the Virgin Mary, planned for the Casa Milà to be a spiritual symbol. Overt religious elements include an excerpt from the Rosary prayer on the cornice and planned statues of Mary, specifically Our Lady of the Rosary, and two archangels, St. Michael and St. Gabriel. The local government objected to some aspects of the project, fined the owners for many infractions of building codes, ordered the demolition of aspects exceeding the height standard for the city. Casa Milà was in poor condition in the early 1980s but it has since been restored and many of the original colors revived.
Cascada Fountain in Parc de la Ciutadella
Gaudi helped this while he was still a student. While more Baroque in style, the fountain is massive and awe inspiring. While there are still many Gaudi elements in this fountain, Gaudi would leave more of his touch on later works. If you visit most of the sites on this list, you can see the evolution of his style and how different this is from his other works.
Gaudi was a prolific architect and, wandering around Barcelona, you are sure to bump into many of his works. If you plan to visit the inside of these places, keep in mind many of the houses are closed on Mondays. Gaudi is not my favorite designer but he uses color well and his work is always unique. Searching out his works is also a different way to see Barcelona.