No art lover’s tour in Europe would be complete without visiting Barcelona to see the eccentric Catalan architecting from the famous Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi has designed many stunning buildings, for they encompass all that Barcelona is famous for its art, its architecture, its style. Gaudi left his distinctive mark on the city, greatly influenced as he was by nature and the use of colour. Many of his works are characterized by curving stone and twisted iron sculptures (for example the dragon gate at the private Guell estate), and are embellished with vibrant coloured tiles. Sagrada Familia
With its incredible soaring towers and beautiful ceramic adornments, the Gothic/Art Nouveau Sagrada Familia basilica is arguably Gaudi’s crowning glory, and the scale of it is quite breathtaking. It was begun in 1882 and Gaudi dedicated 43 years of his life to it on his death only a quater of the basilica was complete. Over a century later, it’s still unfinished; but it nevertheless attracts more than two-and-a-half million visitors a year. If you only have time for one sightseeing outing, this should be it.
The basilica is open October to March, 9am to 6pm and from April to September, 9am to 8pm. Adults: 13.50; Under 18 or retired: 11.50; Children under 10 free
The queues can be horrendous, so buy tickets in advance.
The spectacular facade is an iconic landmark in the city and encapsulates Gaudi at his most fanciful and colourful best Art Nouveau, Modernisme, and hardly a straight line to be seen. Mosaics of golden orange change to greens and blues, irregular oval windows, a scaled roof that looks just like a snake skin, and a turret and cross sitting on top. Just fabulous! Again, you can avoid the queues by booking your ticket online.
Casa Vicens is a family residence and was Gaudi’s first important work. Built for an industrialist, Manuel Vicens, between 1883 and 1888, it is built of undressed stone and red brick, and covered with spectacular green and white tiles, following the vogue for Oriental motifs.
The Casa Vicens is a private building and so is closed to visitors. However, it’s worth taking a look at the outside of the building to see the cast-iron railings with their plant motifs which are so characteristic of Gaudi’s work.
The Park Guell is garden complex situated on a hill in the Gracia district of the city and includes a series of amazing stone structures, stunning tiles, large organic columns and fascinating buildings. Watch out for the multicolored mosaic dragon fountain, and when you get to the terrace you can sit on one of the serpentine-shaped benches and enjoy a glorious view over Barcelona. Gaudi and his family once lived in a small house in the park, which is now The Gaudi House Museum.
Opening times: October to March, 10am to 6pm, and from April to September, 10am to 8pm. Adults: 5.50; Retired, students and 11-17 years: 4.50. Under 10s, free.
La Pedrera – Mila House (Casa Mila)
This house was originally intended as a residential building, and is a masterpiece of undulating concrete and twisted iron balconies, rooftop sculptures and chimneys. These days it’s a culture centre, hosting art exhibitions and concerts. Guided tours are available and visitor information, including tickets and opening times, can be found online.
There are lots more Gaudi buildings to see, so…
Gaud: The Complete Buildings by Rainer Zerbst, 6.74
Barcelona (Lonely Planet City Guides), 9.74
More about Gaudi…
When Antoni Gaudi graduated from Barcelona’s School of Architecture in 1878, the director of the institution is said to have exclaimed to colleagues: “Gentlemen, we are here today either in the presence of a genius or a madman.”
Gaudi met his end under the wheels of Barcelona number 30 tram in 1926.
Several of his works have UNESCO World Heritage status, the Park Guell, the Palau Guell and the Casa Mila.
What’s your favourite Gaudi work? Have you included Barcelona on your tour of Europe and seen his works in person? Share your travel experiences in the comments below!
Image of Sagrada Familia from Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdstrachan/8113526647/sizes/m/)
Image of Casa Vicens from Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/morgaine/2890182373/sizes/s/)
Image of La Pedrera from Flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/misbehave/141830244/sizes/n/)
If you want to stay near Sagrada Familia or other of Gaudi’s work, try booking your holiday apartments in Barcelona here!