Gaudi’s fairy tale architecture is a staple in Barcelona. The city has been profoundly influenced by his architecture that leaves the masses of tourists, which flock from a far to see his wonders, in seventh heaven. Gaudi is the most famous Catalan architect and his Art Nouveau architecture is celebrated by an abundance of people from all over the world. Gaudi’s creations are an unusual and unique double-edged sword as reactions vary from repulsion to admiration and utter wonderment. His building are scattered throughout the city so wherever you are you’re always nearby something that he has crafted. The tourist market for holidays to Barcelona is very aware of the lure of Gaudi and has reacted by commodifying his impact in pretty much anyway possible.
The most famous Gaudi monument in Barcelona is La Sagrada Familia. Gaudi died when he was run-over outside the building whilst it was being built. Due to his complex plans for the church, which the subsequent architects have tried to stick, the church has already been under-construction for over 100 years already and isn’t expected to be completed any time before 2030. The theme of La Sagrada Familia is a narrative of the bible that is illustrated through the intricate design of the church’s exterior. There is an audio guide available that can guide you through the details and their meaning as you go around the building.
Not too far away, up the hill, is Park Guell another of Gaudi’s fantasies, which he created between 1900 and 1914. The undulating public park, located on the hill of el Carmel in the Gracia neighbourhood, combines art, architecture and nature. The park, that’s part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, was originally meant to be a playground for the rich, however it was eventually bought by the state and in 1922 it opened to the public. The park, which can be reached by metro, buses or car, is made up of a collection of different gardens and also has the Pavello de Consergeria, which was the porter’s home and is now a museum on Gaudi’s building methods and park history. The best part of the park though is the paramount views of Barcelona and the Mediterranean from the large cross at the top of the mountain, where it’s possible to spot other Gaudi creations, such as La Sagrada Familia.
A hop, skip and a jump down the hill in Gracia is Casa Vicens, which was Gaudi’s first significant creation. The Moorish influenced house, with roof top towers and red bricked and checkered tiled exterior, was built for Manuel Vicens the industrialist, during 1883-1889. Vicens, who owned a tile factory, designed and manufactured some of the tiles that partly make up the outside of the building. The house is a private residence so access inside isn’t possible but the outside is still worth checking out.
A little bit further back downtown on Passeig de Gracia are Gaudi’s apartments Casa Batllo and Casa Mila. Casa Mila, also known as La Pedrera, was commissioned by a married Catholic couple and their religious beliefs are a strong influence in the design of the building. The house, built between 1905-1910, was seen as seen as revolutionary at the time due to its unusual design comprising of a rolling theme throughout. Casa Batllo, built in 1877, is a little bit further down the hill and is an Art Nouveau building with a mosaic facade and a surreal roof that’s like something out of a fantasy, with arches and dips that’s been compared to the back of a dragon. The views of Barcelona from the roof are spectacular and offer a different perspective of the city.
Back in the centre just off the Ramblas, in Raval, is Palau Güell, which only just re-opened following renovations. The house, which has iron gates that horse drawn carriages use to enter through. The interior has ornate walls and oozes a lavishness that feels more classic that Gaudi’s other creations. The house is a lot bigger than it looks from the outside and has an abundance of rooms winding in and out of each other. There is a terrace at the back and a roof terrace too with great views of the centre of the city and its nearby surroundings.