Gaud pretty much runs the show in Barcelona. Among new-age architecture and the urban sprawl of city life there are a handful of whimsical buildings that bring out the playful side of the city. Catching a glimpse of Gaudí’s buildings in Barcelona is a bit like doing a scavenger hunt – they’re peppered all around, hidden subtly away between two non-descript buildings, or lurking around the next corner. Gaudí has a style, there’s no doubt about it, but his buildings all present a personality of their own. If you’re struggling though, just keep an eye out for bulbous balconies, curved walls, pops of color, and fairy tale rooftops.
La Sagrada Familia
Topping the list is La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s most famous work and his lifelong masterpiece. Construction began in 1892 and still continues today – it’s thought it will finally be completed by 2040. Perhaps the most marvelous thing about it though is its unique design, which combines nature, religion, and man in one eye-catching display of finery. Queues are long here, so settle in for the long haul. At the very least you can admire the intricate exterior whilst you wait in line. Find out more about La Sagrada Familia here.
Though not a building in its true sense of the word, Parc Guell has been lovingly created by Gaudi. Set in a picturesque garden complex at the top of the city, it is home to a collection of Gaudi memorabilia – a ceramic lizard, for example, and a seating area that undulates in true Gaudi style. The colonnaded hallway and the serpentine terrace are the most recognizable spots in the park, but weave in and out of the walkways and you’ll stumble across little architectural treats all around. Find out more about Park Guell here.
Not content with creating a church to rival all churches, Gaudi also wanted to inject his personality into some of the more mundane buildings in Barcelona. Originally, Casa Batllo was a typical house from the late 1800s, but Gaudi had big plans for it. In 1904 he redesigned the structure in a Modernisme style, using stone, ceramics, and forged iron. At first it was met with criticism, but Barcelona soon accepted it as one of its own and it remains an important attraction in the city. Find out more about Casa Batlló here.
Not far from Casa Batllo you’ll find La Pedrera, an incredible feat of architecture. In fact, it’s more of a sculptural phenomenon than anything, with bubbling stonework and detailed wrought-iron balconies. Though it might not look like much from a distance, get up close and you’ll instantly see the results of Gaudi’s obsession with intricacy. The aim was to create a building that examines the unusual nuances of the natural world, and it seems to have worked as UNESCO named the building a World Heritage Site in 1984. Find out more about La Pedrera here.
Gaudi’s first important building was built over 5 years between 1883 and 1888. Originally it was created to house a wealthy family – who wouldn’t want the most prominent artist of the time to design their home? The result is a lush combination of ceramic decoration and Islamic influence that makes it stand out from any other building in Barcelona and even other Gaudi offerings around the city.
Gaudi’s contribution to the beauty of Barcelona is evident around every twist and turn. He’s managed to turn the city into a Modernisme playground that is both architecturally wonderful and imaginative, and these elements have seeped into the overall personality of the city.