Barcelona: Discovering Gaudí’s most fascinating works
With sun, sea and plenty of beaches nearby, a city break to Barcelona is the perfect short escape for summer. Combining rest and relaxation with all the culture the city has to offer makes for a well-rounded and satisfying trip – and no visit to Barcelona would be complete without a stroll around the city to take in Antoni Gaudí’s most awe-inspiring works.
The best known practitioner of Catalan Modernism, Spanish architect Gaudí’s works can be seen scattered throughout Barcelona – from the world-famous Sagrada Familia to the constantly photographed Casa Batllo. And, with 7 of his masterpieces having received coveted UNESCO World Heritage Site status, there’s plenty to keep architecture, art and history lovers busy.
Antoni Gaudí was born in 1852, and despite his death back in June 1926, remains the most famous and celebrated Catalan architect to date. His work can be seen throughout Barcelona in the shape of some truly fascinating monuments and buildings, with his work disseminating across the world because of his unique style. Using nature as the inspiration for the unique geometrical shapes he is known for, Gaudí’s greatest impact in history was on modernism, though he was immersed at first in the Neo-Gothic style. His journey as an architect can be seen as time goes on, and what started out as fun and interesting buildings later became breath-taking works of art as his style developed.
Gaudi’s most fascinating works
When Gaudí first started to become recognised for his impressive creations, he played a role in the development of various projects across Barcelona, including cinemas, bars and restaurants – and with many of them remaining across the city until today, it only takes a short wander to take in a number of his early works – even if you don’t know it.
Casa Vicens was Gaudí’s first important project, and the first home by the great architect of modernism. Now a museum, it is located in the neighbourhood of Gràcia on Carrer de les Carolines, 24, and is considered one of the first buildings of Art Nouveau.
As often happens with design, art or architecture students, Gaudí’s first works were clearly influenced by his studies, and at a time when he was still developing his unique style, Casa Vicens was a romantic and historic building with a touch of oriental style.
In 1883, thanks to Joan Martorell – one of Gaudí’s professors – the architect was fortunate enough to meet Eusebi Güell, who later became his main patron. From then onwards, Gaudi’s passion for creating grew stronger and stronger, and El Capricho, Casa Botines, Finca Güell, the Crypt of the Colònia Güell, and Palau Güell – now called Park Güell – were brought to life in this period (1883 – 1914). Park Guell, a public park system composed of gardens and architectonic elements, is located on Carmel Hill, in Barcelona, Catalonia, and is today one of the city’s biggest draws to tourists.
On the same day, Gaudí was also introduced to Güell, and was offered the honour of continuing with the construction of the iconic Sagrada Familia – his greatest ever project, and one that is still under construction until today. Spanning 136 years and counting, this impressive catholic church is one of the most renowned buildings in the entire world, attracting scores of tourists to Barcelona every year to see it taking shape. With the finish date still unknown, the intricately designed and carefully crafted exterior is truly a sight to behold – and the inside is equally as awe-inspiring.
From this point onwards, Gaudí works became completely modernist, and at the close of the 19th century, he built one his most classic and conservative works – Casa Velvet. As the 20th century got underway, his most modernist project of all was created, and Casa Batlló is another of the most recognised buildings in Barcelona. Located on the famous Passeig de Gracia, close to Las Ramblas and the Mercat Centrale, crowds of tourists can often be seen outside, clamouring to get the best photo.
Inspired by the Mediterranean Sea, the project interestingly didn’t start from scratch. In fact, the building was already built, and it was Gaudí’s job to transform it into the work of art it is today. With the essence of nature successfully captured in every corner of this beautiful house, a visit to Casa Batlló is a must for anyone lucky enough to find themselves visiting sunny Barcelona.
Why is it worth visiting Antoni Gaudí’s works? Because seeing these architectural wonders of the world in real life is a breath-taking experience you won’t forget. It’s certainly one to tick off the bucket list, too – so get booking those flights.