If the quirky urban aesthetic of Barcelona could be attributed to just one man’s influence, it’s probably that of Antoni Gaudí. Recalled as a pious man with a vegetarian diet and industrious work ethic, you could hardly pick a fellow further flung from the jamón-ibérico-eating and all together laid back culture of modern Barcelona, but define Barcelona he did. From every hue of deliberately grouted tile at Parc Güell to his unending magnum opus, La Sagrada Família, amongst other works, Gaudí has created a spectacular and irreplicable something about Barcelona.
He’s got a fan club, dashing good looks, and all kinds of artistic achievement – check anyone’s short list of things to do in Barcelona, and you bet his stuff is on it. Perhaps he’s not a typical kind of rockstar, but homeboy has definitely got groupies.
Who is Gaudí? Gaudí was a Barcelona-based architect of the late 1800’s and a prominent leader of Catalan Modernism. His works were inspired by nature, but to describe them as such is a vast oversimplification — structurally far-fetched, alarmingly colorful, and fantastical is more like it.
Professors supposed he’d be either genius or a madman, as seems to be the case with most who dare to step outside societal framework and create something unfamiliar — a mosaic lizard or century-long undertaking, for example. Gaudí was admired by some, and disregarded by many (who really cares what Picasso thinks?), but he still managed to snatch up plenty of projects to mark his territory around the city he loved.
If you find yourself in Barcelona, everything Gaudí is nothing to miss. We mean it! Tourist attraction aside, the sights are among the coolest things to do in Barcelona (HostelGeeks.com). Rambling from one Gaudí masterpiece to the next far transcends sightseeing, and has become a quintessential Barcelona experience. Let’s check out some of the best Gaudí sites in Barcelona, shall we?
La Sagrada Família
Gaudí’s greatest masterpiece is arguably La Sagrada Família, albeit extraordinarily incomplete for the foreseeable future. Handed over to him in 1883, Gaudí spent the remainder of his life dutifully designing and overseeing the construction of the enormous church.
Why might a cathedral take so long? Once completed, La Sagrada Família will have 18 towers with the tallest climbing to 170m. Equipped with elaborate façades, chapels, naves, and cloisters, the church is as visually astounding (like it or not) as it is a lesson in perpetual architecture.
Information about Visiting La Sagrada Família:
- The Sagrada Família is located off of Barcelona’s “Sagrada Família” metro station, accessible by the purple and blue lines.
- Admission costs 15€ or 13€ for students (with valid ID). Guides/Audioguides cost an additional 4.50€, and escalator tickets in the towers are an additional 4.50€. Combined tickets are available for Basilica Visit + Gaudí House-Museum and cost 18.50€.
- Opening hours are between 9am and 6-8pm depending on the time of year you plan your visit.
- The lines can make a wait at the DMV seem pleasant. Get there in the morning (or during off season if you’re particularly scheisty) to avoid the crowds.
Parc Güell is an allegorical garden sprawled across the hills of El Carmel scattered with methodically placed mosaics and tumbling architectural marvels. The park began as a failed housing development until the original Property Brother moved into one of the area’s two homes, and turned things around (that’s Gaudí!).
With its bends, and archways, and bowed corridors representing forms in the natural world, the designs have a both harmonic and abrupt relationship with the park’s surrounding nature. Forgiving the crowds, hardly anything in Barcelona beats Parc Güell’s dashing view of Barcelona with mosaic benches and tiled spires in the foreground.
Information about Visiting Parc Güell:
- Parc Güell is located near the “Vallacarca” metro station accessible by the green line.
- Admission to the park itself is free, however, there are fees for various museums and houses located within the park.
Other Gaudí sights in Barcelona:
- Casa Vicens: While Casa Vicens is Gaudí’s first commission, it far exceeds the haphazard design you may expect of an elementary project. Of Moorish influence, the once residence to the Vicens family is a mosaic of red brick, checkered tiles, and floral patterns.
- Palau Güell: Located just a few steps away from the touristic La Rambla is Palau Güell. Featuring over 20 chimneys, and extravagantly coiled metal designs, the town house is an excellent example of Art Nouveau and a great spot to check out in Barcelona.
- The Crypt of the Church of the Colònia Güell: Kicking off the first of a few uncompleted projects is the Church of Colònia Güell. Money ran out early in the project, leaving behind only the completed Crypt. The building is shaped by awkwardly bent pillars, almost as if you’re climbing through a stalactite filled cave — it was this style that later became quite characteristic of Gaudí’s work.
- Casa Calvet: Casa Calvet is generally considered the most conservative, symmetrical, most balanced, (and let’s be honest!) dullest of Gaudí’s designs. Once run as a residence and commercial space, you can now eat dinner downstairs. I’d say that’s probably worth it!
- Casa Batlló: You can call this style of architecture Modernism, Art Nouveau, or pretty damn cool. Located right off of Passeig de Gracia, Casa Batlló may be the third best Gaudí sight to see in Barcelona… and that’s a better compliment than it sounds. Commissioned by a home owner who wanted something different, Gaudí created an intricate facade, a steeply sloped roof resembling the back of a dragon, a 4-stack chimney, and stained glass windows. It’s fair to say he delivered.
- Casa Milá: Popularly known as La Pedrera or “the stone quarry”, Casa Milá is another of Gaudí’s modernist inspired buildings. Shaped kinda like a beehive and topped with stone heads reminiscent of the Easter Island Moai, this is not your average apartment building.