An artist leaving his mark on a city
There is no city in the world where just one architect so clearly left his mark as in Barcelona. Everywhere you go, you are being confronted with Gaudi’s colorful Jugendstill architecture. Before we get to the must see part, first something about the architect – or artist – himself.
Spanish architect, artist or magician
Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (25 June 1852 – 10 June 1926) was a Spanish Catalan architect from Reus. His works was clearly influenced by his passions in life: architecture, nature, and religion. Gaudí considered every detail of his creations and integrated into his architecture such crafts as ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry.
The incomplete masterpiece Sagrada Família
Gaudi’s incomplete masterpiece Sagrada Família is the most-visited monument in Spain. The construction of this church started in 1882 and is expected to be finished in 2026. It is said that during the last years of his life, Gaudi actually lived in the building. With his death in 1926 also lots of details about the construction disappeared, since Gaudi never made blueprints and didn’t leave notes. The exterior of the church is very impressive. When you have a chance to go see it with a guide, please do, because only this way you will get an idea of all the symbolism. When you pay a visit to this impressive building, make sure to buy your tickets in advance.
If you are looking for a place to relax, don’t visit Parc Guell. Especially during summertime, it is extremely busy and it might take some time to get in. I believe the people of Barcelona don’t have to wait and don’t have to pay a ticket; to them the beauty of Parc Guell is always available. The construction of the parc was commissioned by Mr. Guell (after whom the park has been named), who intended to build and sell houses. The project wasn’t successful, only two houses where sold, one to Gaudi himself. In 1923 the parc was passed over to the Municipality. The building in the picture on the left, below, was meant as a market place. Above this intended market place, there are some lovely mosaic benches where you can relax and enjoy the beauty of the parc.
Casa Milà was build by Gaudi between 1906 and 1910 and is famous for its rooftop with the most beautiful chimneys you will ever see. It was commissioned in 1906 by businessman Pere Milà i Camps and his wife Roser Segimon i Artells. A visit starts in the shop on the ground floor. An elevator will take you up to the roof where you can walk around and enjoy the view of both the city and the spectacular chimneys. From the top you will go down to see the attic and apartments. The inside of the building is as spectacular as the outside. Most definitely worth a visit.
Casa Vicens is one of Gaudi’s first important works. Though it is very different from other Spanish architecture that was build around the same time, it does not have that particular look that other Gaudi buildings like Casa Milà and Sagrada Família have. Casa Vicens has lots of Moorish influences. Like with many other of his buildings it was build as a family house for industrialist Manuel Vicens.
Unfortunately, I did not have the pleasure yet of visiting Casa Batlló; I only saw it from the outside. (Which is a good reason to return to Barcelona soon ;-)) But the exterior alone already tells such a fantastic story! If you look at the roof, in the tiles you can recognize a dragon. The balcony on the first and second floor represents jaws and bones. A common theory about the building is that it represents the lance of Saint George (patron saint of Catalonia, Gaudí’s home), which has been plunged into the back of the dragon.
Colonia Güell is an unfinished church which was build as a place of worship for the community of Santa Coloma de Cervello. Unfortunately, money ran out leaving only the crypt of the building completed.
The Palau Güell was built between 1886 and 1888 for the industrial tycoon Mr. Güell. You can visit the building, starting at the place where horses with their carriages used to enter the building. Even the stables are worth a visit. From the ground floor you can go up to explore the house. Star features of the building are the house chapel, the ceiling and a small viewing window high on the walls where owners could views their guests from the upper floor and get a sneak peek before getting down.
El Drac de Gaudí at Finca Güell
The Guell Pavilions is a complex of buildings that was built between 1884 and 1887. The fence with an iron dragon is absolutely famous.
The last building of this Gaudi must see route is Casa Calvet. Casa Calvet was build for a textile manufacturer somewhere between 1899 and 1906. It is one of Gaudi’s more conventional buildings, since it had to be squeezed in between other, older buildings. This makes Casa Calvet a mix of more classical architecture and Gaudi’s very own typical signature.