The spirit of Barcelona is distinctive. Perhaps it comes from all the warm sunshine, but the air of this city is just doused with excitement, beauty, and limitless possibilities for a future driven by unbridled imagination.
A central pioneering force in molding this spirit was Antoni Gaudí, a Spanish architect who spearheaded Catalan Modernism and marked the city with his profound architectural style.
Born in 1852, Gaudí was the father of Catalan Modernism, an architectural movement from 1888 to 1911 marked by curved lines, asymmetry and influences from the natural world.
Barcelona is home to seven works by Gaudí that today are prized UNESCO World Heritage sights.
During my recent visit to Barcelona with my mom, were were fortunate to make it to three. Discover Gaudí’s Barcelona with me.
Discover Gaudí’s Barcelona
La Sagrada Familia
The cathedral La Sagrada Familia is all at once Gaudí’s most revered work and the most visited attraction in Spain yet still remains unfinished after more than 100 years of construction.
Don’t let the swarms of crowds out front or long line to enter scare you away – this is definitely a must see in Barcelona. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time online if you don’t feel like queuing up for 30-60 minutes to buy them onsite.
La Sagrada Familia is unlike any church I’ve ever been in before (and I’ve racked up quite a list while trekking around Europe the past half year).
I felt a profound sense of power as I slipped out of the sunlight through a façade dedicated to the story of the passion of Christ and into the cool marble interior of the church. Gaudí’s call back to the natural world is ever present as massive marble tree trunk columns lead up to a majestic roof covered in detailing resembling lily pads and a rainbow of light floods in from marvelous stained glass windows.
Work began on the church in 1882. At the time of Gaudí’s death in 1926, only one tower, the crypt, apse and Nativity façade, one of the most recognized features of the church, were completed.
Following his death, progress on the cathedral slowed, halted by the Spanish Civil War and World War II. Architects have since resumed work on the cathedral and it is anticipated to be finished by 2026, complete with 18 towers.
I highly recommend climbing one of the towers for an excellent view of Barcelona.
In the hills of upper Barcelona lies Park Güell, providing a scenic escape to nature steps from the cosmopolitan setting.
Relax on one of the seats of the long, serpent shaped mosaic bench on the terrace and enjoy the view of the gardens below and the Barcelona city streets leading to the streets.
With bright colors, asymmetrical mosaics and fanciful designs, many elements in the park look like, as my mom said, a Dr. Suess book come to life (indeed the writer and cartoonish was influenced by Gaudí’s works), especially the two gingerbreadesque houses that lie below the garden.
The most emblematic feature in the park is el drac, a multicolored mosaic salamander.
Just around the corner from my beautiful accommodations at Hotel Praktik Rambla, is Casa Batlló, as close to a dream house as I’ve ever been in. I’m certain that if I lived here my levels of creativity would soar through the roof.
Nicknamed “the House of Bones,” Gaudí redesigned this family home in 1904, covering the exterior of the building in skeleton-like features, leading up to a roof sloped and curved like the back of a dragon, complete with glimmering scales.
Inside, the house is just as playful. Each room possesses it’s own quirky features that hearken back to the natural world.
The fanciful living room offers sweeping street views, and during my visit with my mom the Barcelona Marathon was taking place. We were treated to a first-class view of the runners.
Hey readers: Have you been to Barcelona? What’s your favorite work by Gaudí?