Barcelona’s architecture is outstanding. From the 11th century cathedral to the 21st century Agbar Tower, the city is a showcase of architectural styles, culminating in the modernist movement embraced by Antoni Gaudi. Popular in the Catalan region in the late 19th century, modernism features curved lines, bright colors, and rich ornamentation. The result is anything but boring, as you will discover in these fine examples of Gaudi’s architectural legacy in Barcelona.
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Although the Sagrada Familia was one of Gaudi’s earliest projects, it still remains unfinished. Completion is estimated in 2028, but even the magnificent partly built church is well worth visiting. Symbolic carvings and colorful mosaic tiles cover every inch of stonework. The 12 iconic spires, representing the 12 disciples, are decorated with Venetian mosaics. Detailed scenes of the childhood of Christ cover the nativity-themed east façade. Tours of the Sagrada Familia include the crypt where Gaudi is buried, and the museum. Prepare to be wowed!
Once you have visited the Sagrada Familia, you’ll probably want to see more of Gaudi’s extraordinary and unconventional masterpieces, either on a Gaudi tour, or independently.
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The wavy roofline and colorful mosaic façade make Casa Batlló look like something from a fairytale. Located on the Passeig de Gracia, this six-story house was designed by Gaudi and is still owned by the Batlló family. It is known locally as the Casa dels Ossos (House of Bones) as it has a certain grotesque skeletal appearance with its extruding balconies and irregular windows. Tours include the ribcage-like loft, the main noble floor with tortoise-shell skylights, and the roof space designed like a dragon’s back.
La Pedrera (Casa Milà)
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The Casa Milà is also known as La Pedrera, which means the quarry. The undulating stone façade and twisted balconies sit beneath a wave-like roof of extraordinary chimneys and vents. The casa comprises two curving buildings that enclose a central courtyard. Spread over nine floors, including an underground car park, the property was designed as apartments accessed through a decorative iron gate. It is open daily for tours, exhibitions, and events.
Palau Güell is another unique Gaudi masterpiece of fantasy, designed in an exuberant mix of gothic detail and modernist non-conformity. Beautiful coffered ceilings, marble features, and colorful mosaics reach a climax on the roof where 20 sculpted chimneys stand like an outdoor exhibition of contemporary art. Situated on Carrer Nou de la Rabla, Palau Güell is open every day except Mondays.
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Named after the Gaudi’s patron, Eusebi Güell, this peaceful green space in the city was intended to be a housing estate. Two unique houses were completed at the entrance to Park Güell. Gaudi himself lived in one from 1906-26 and it is now a museum of his designs, including furniture. Gaudi laid out the paths in the park to create a delightful natural setting. Highlights to look out for are the flight of ceramic-covered steps designed as a dragon and the elevated hypostyle hall supported by 86 crooked columns.
There are plenty of cheap hotels in Barcelona for visiting these Gaudi buildings, which are all on the UNESCO World Heritage List.