The works of Antoni Gaudi dominate the city of Barcelona. Whilst the city is both modern and cosmopolitan in nature it has a rich history in architecture and the arts. The city has always proven to be a bit ahead of the rest of the world in its tendencies and the discerning traveller can see this in the exquisite Gaudi architecture that is found throughout Barcelona.
In spite of impressive works from the Romanesque and Renaissance periods it is Gaudi’s Modernism which attracts millions of visitors to Barcelona. The magnificent works of Catalonia’s favourite son were created well before their time and you should dedicate much of your time in Barcelona to visiting a selection of Gaudi buildings.
The man behind these amazing masterpieces is Antoni Gaudi who was born in 1852 in Catalonia. Gaudi was the youngest of five children and he had a difficult childhood due to suffering from rheumatism that caused him a great deal of pain. At a young age he had a lot of time to observe and inspect nature which helped him to develop his unique form of architecture.
Gaudi went on to study architecture at the Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura, which is located in the city of Barcelona. Although his grades were only fair, he did receive his diploma, which named him as an architect. Soon he was planning and designing what would be some of the most amazing architectural masterpieces ever created.
When Gaudi first started out his works were primarily Gothic in nature and had a traditional Spanish flare to them. After a few years he went on to develop his own style which was when his most popular works were created. The nature he had studied so much as a child was soon to be incorporated into his works and he showed amazing portrayals of water and organic shapes in his architectural designs. Later his work became known by the name Art Nouveau Architecture and was actually a precursor to today’s modern architecture (known as ‘modernisme’).
Main Gaudi Buildings in Barcelona
While you are in Barcelona you should dedicate plenty time to seeing Gaudi’s works and not just the Sagrada Familia which is his most famous attraction. The most visited of his works after the unfinished Gaudi cathedral include Park Guell, Casa Mila, and Casa Batllo.
Address: C/ Mallorca 401
Opening Hours: 9am-6pm (Oct-Mar); 9am-8pm (Apr-Sep)
Metro: Sagrada Familia
Check Entrance Fees & Opening Hours at the Sagrada Familia Website.
If you only do one thing in Barcelona you must visit Gaudi’s La Sagrada Família which is certainly his most famous work and recognised as a symbol of Barcelona worldwide. Work on this Moderniste cathedral was started by Gaudi in 1883 and he continued to work obsessively on the project until his death in 1926 (he was hit by a tram in Girona). Many of Gaudi’s building plans were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War leading to an ongoing debate as to how his masterpiece should progress. The completion date for the Sagrada Familia is estimated to be around 2030.
Address: Carrer D’Olot, 7
Metro: Lesseps (more convenient is Bus Nº 24 or the Bus Turístic service)
Opening hours: 9am-9pm (June-Sept); Slight variations at other times of year
Admission Cost: Free.
Park Guell dates back to 1900 when Eusebi Guell commissioned Gaudi to build a garden city intended for the elite of Barcelona society. As a real estate venture the property wasn’t a success with only two homes ever being built on it. Today it is a Gaudi park which is owned by the city of Barcelona and features a breathtaking selection of Gaudi architecture. Look out for the giant coloured lizard which is one of the city’s most photographed attractions. Casa Museu Gaudi is the house at the entrance with a spire where the architect lived for most of his last 20 years.
La Pedrera (Casa Milà)
Address: Passeig de Gràcia ,92
Opening hours: 9am-6.30pm (Nov-Feb); 9am-8pm (Mar-Oct)
Check Entrance Fees & Opening Hours at the La Pedrera Website.
La Pedrera is probably Gaudi’s 2nd most recognisable masterpiece. It was built between 1905 and 1910 as a commission for the wealthy Milà family in the upmarket Gracia district serving as an apartment and an office block. A visit to the Casa Milà allows you to get a taste of wealthy Catalan society a century ago as you wander through the fascinating rooms of the family home. The roof is particulary interesting with its selection of Modernist sculptures and chimneys from where you can see the Sagrada Familia in the distance. At weekends from July to September at 9pm you can go on the roof of La Pedrera and enjoy ‘La Pedrera de Nit’ when you can have a glass of cava (Catalan champagne) on the roof to the accompaniment of classical music.
Address: Passeig de Gràcia, 43
Metro: Passeig de Gràcia (exit Calle Aragó-Rambla Catalunya)
Opening hours: 9am-2pm (Mon-Sat); 9am-8pm (Sun)
Entrance Fees & Opening Hours at the Casa Batlló Website.
Just down the Passeig de Gràcia on the other side of the road from La Pedrera is another classic Gaudi structure. This building was also commissioned by a wealthy local businessman, Josep Batlló, to serve mainly as a family home. Although Gaudi originally designed the building to look like St George’s Dragon your imagination can run away with you as you stare at the structure from outside. Typical observations are of tiles used to portray fish scales, balconies that look like bird’s nests and a roof than resembles a dinosaur’s back!
More Gaudi Buildings
As well as the Gaudi buildings described above there are around 25 more spread around the city. Not all of the works are open to the public but they’re still worth looking for if Gaudi architecture is an important reason for your visit. The biggest concentration of these buildings is in the Gracia district of Barcelona just north of Plaza Catalunya.