A trip to Barcelona would not be complete without a visit to some of the works of one of its most celebrated resident, Antonio Gaudi. Prior to his death in 1926 after being hit by a street car, the renowned artist created a legacy of impressive architectural gems spread throughout the city. Seven of his buildings have been placed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list, and to view just a few of these is indeed a feast for the senses.
What I consider to be only an appetizer for this feast is considered by many to be the ultimate achievement by the architect. If ever completed, the Sagrada Familia is projected to be the tallest church in the world. Begun in 1886, this controversial basilica attracts some three million visitors each year. But, while the vision is Gaudi’s, over the last 90 years since the artist was buried here a variety of different architects have strived to enhance and finalize that vision. The result, although a stunning and unique architectural feat, seems to me to be a bit haphazard, disjointed and overcrowded.
My next course in this Gaudi feast is the Casa Mila, also known as La Pedrera, or stone quarry. Built for the Mila family in 1906 along my favorite street in Barcelona, the exquisite Passeig de Gracias, features a rolling façade, beautiful iron balconies and large windows. The tour here usually includes an apartment with furnishings as well as the lobby, roof and attic. Although expensive, it’s worth taking the tour here if only to see the spectacular roof.
I would choose another of Gaudi’s World Heritage sites as my entrée – the magnificent Guell Palace. The lavishness of this home can be found everywhere – from the coffered ceilings to the stained glass and ivory inlays and the mosaic chimneys on the roof. This site, on a non-descript street just off Las Ramblas, is featured on our audio walk through Barcelona and the tour is well worth the rather costly fee. Do not miss this one!
Finally, for dessert, I’d return to the wonderful Passeig de Gracias to visit the impressive Casa Batlló. The first thing that strikes you here is the incredible mosaic and tile work on the exterior walls. Inside, the central atrium and the uniqueness of the living spaces will leave you wanting to see more. And with the magnificent roof and stunning courtyard you will get your wish. This is also an expensive location to tour, but if you love beautiful architecture you will not regret spending your time and money here.
Gaudi fans will certainly note that I have not included one of the architect’s most renowned spots and one of the most visited in Barcelona, the Park Güell. Gaudi’s iconic mosaic bench and dragon are incredible, but the Monumental Zone portion of the park itself is comparatively small. I’d still highly recommend a visit here, but more for the overall beauty of the park itself and the amazing views of the city it offers.
Picture By Amadalvarez – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18720854