You can’t visit Barcelona without seeing the architecture of Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi’s architecture defines the city, with its unique and individual style, influenced by nature and religion. And his popularity continues to grow, with a number of his sites still among the most popular tourist attractions of the city.
We saw three of the Gaudi sites in town, and two we visited.
Sagrada Familia, the legendary church with it’s towering spires you can see from almost all vantage points in the city. And surely the most popular tourist attraction in Barcelona. So popular, that when we arrived to visit the building an hour before opening, the line to get in was already a few hours long. Thanks, but no thanks. Although we didn’t make it inside, even just outside, Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia is a fantastical piece of architecture.
Only partially complete when Gaudi died in 1926, the cathedral is still incomplete today. Since his death, many other architects and sculptures have added to this modern marvel and the plan is for the structure to be finally completed in 2026 – 100 years since Gaudi’s death.
The ongoing works have come at quite a price, but luckily the costs are now fully-funded by the 2.5 million visitors that pass through the turnstiles each year.
On a beautiful sunny day in Barcelona, we headed out to Park Guell. We arrived early, but not early enough, as there were already quite a few visitors in the park. Park Guell is a crazy, fun, imaginative and colourful place to wander. Walking in the gates, you’re greeted by 2 small houses, which look like gingerbread houses.
Just beyond the houses, there is a colourful mosaic salamander fountain. Who I’m sure takes pride in his status as the most photographed object in the park.
Walking up the huge staircase just behind our salamander friend, the curved and waved serpentine mosaic benches of the terrace are the highlight of the park. The decorative tiles are smashed so they‘d fit on Gaudi’s required curves, the patterns now far more interesting than if the tile had remained whole.
And from the terrace, there are stunning views across Barcelona.
A truly unique park, it’s just a shame you have to share it with so, so many other people at once…
The highlight of our Gaudi Barcelona experience was Casa Battlo. A house remodeled by Gaudi for a middle-class family back in 1904. The house is called Casa Dels Ossos (House of Bones) by the locals, because of the skeletal look of the outside of the house, but inside, the main influences are nautical.
Again there was a magical feeling within the house, with spiral staircases and curves where there are normally sharp edges. The patterns on the wall and the curves or spirals on the windows and ceiling, reminding you of the ocean.
The nautical theme even continuing in the central-light well, with it’s deep blues and wave-like doors.
Passing out onto the rooftop, you soon spy the dragons back that forms the roof. Some say the balconies, which look like skulls, might be representative of the dragon’s victims.
Casa Battlo was such an interesting place to visit, as it allowed you to better understand Gaudi’s work. While not as big or grand as some of his sites, Casa Battlo shows you a different side of Gaudi. As well as his unique and individual style, he could be practical and creative at the same time. A rare combination. Check out this fireplace built for two and the buildings chimneys.
A man of genius.