Along with its bustling markets, shops and lively street performers, Barcelona is known the world over for its amazing architecture.
Art Nouveau buildings share streets with stunning Gothic churches, while contemporary buildings like the cucumber-shaped Torre Agbar punctuate the skyline.In fact, much of the Catalan city’s fantastic architecture is the work of just one man – Antoni Gaudí. Born in 1852, Gaudí’s work was inspired by nature’s organic forms and he used all sorts of materials freely to create his Modernista masterpieces, which are dotted around Barcelona and beyond. Here are a few of the city’s must-see Gaudí destinations:
La Sagrada Família
Work began on La Sagrada Família over 130 years ago and of all his work, this was the closest to Gaudí’s heart. A stunning cathedral designed in medieval style, almost three million visitors flock to Barcelona every year just to explore this epic monument.
This private building was one of the first ever designed and built in the Art Nouveau style and although you can’t enter, it’s well worth a visit for the façade alone. An imposing corner building, Casa Vicens’ exterior is encrusted with intricate tiles, its windows are made of deeply coloured glass and it has a magical, fairytale quality.
Park Güell is set at a little distance from the city itself so if you’re planning a trip, take advantage of car hire in Barcelona. Built between 1900 and 1914, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a sprawling delight of plants, buildings and incredible artistry.
Commissioned by the Güell family, who were firm fans of Gaudí’s work, this church and crypt was designed in 1898. It features classically Gaudí-esque dramatic columns both inside and out, and the crypt is adorned in the detailed mosaic style that was popular with the architect.
Casa Batlló is a fun place to visit because you can explore room-to-room and get a real sense of how it was used as a family home. From the outside, with its many chunky balconies and uniquely shaped roof, the house looks like an enchanted fortress.
Also known as La Pedrera or the Quarry House, Casa Milá was commissioned by a couple who wanted to live on the upmarket Passeig de Gracia. The building is sculptural in its design and thought of as an architectural first because it uses columns to stay upright, rather than supporting walls. The outside is striking with undulating stonework, elaborate ironwork balconies and overhanging door and window frames.
The palace home of the Güell family, from the outside Palau Güell is much plainer than many of Gaudí’s other buildings. However, inside there is a wonderful parabolic dome, as well as a fun planetarium-style ceiling that makes stars appear in broad daylight.
It’s believed that Josep Fontsere took inspiration for his Cascade Fountain in Parc de la Ciutadella from Rome’s Trevi Fountain, which he built with a young Gaudi as his assistant. As public spaces go, the park itself is world class and this stunning water feature is the cherry on the cake.
Barcelona is rich with architectural and design gems, and for that it owes Gaudí a great deal.