He was described as an unsociable, unpleasant and arrogant man of gruff reactions, yet he was, and still is, one of Spain’s most beloved citizens. His architectural wonders are scattered mainly throughout the city of Barcelona and include everything from schools to grand cathedrals. He is of course, Antoni Gaudi, and these are his must see masterpiece
One of the first buildings designed by Gaudi is this residential house in the suburb of Gracia. The house of defined by its colourful tiling and elaborate iron windows. It took six years to build, finishing in 1888. The house has forever been a private residence until recently when an Andorran bank purchased it with the intent of restoring its elaborate interior and opening it to the public sometime in 2016. The Casa Vicens is one of the eight buildings that collectively form the Works of Antoni Gaudi UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Perhaps second only in controversy to the Sagrada Familia is another of Gaudi’s houses, the Casa Batllo. This gorgeous building caused a stir as it is located in the middle of Barcelona’s historic district, and the design is anything but sympathetic to its surroundings! The building features curved windows, a colourful slate roof which resembles some kind of dragon’s hide, and a beautiful façade covered in blue and green tiles to resemble a lily pond. Inside, the atrium is fully covered in aqua blue tiles and stunning stained glass windows. Also found in this house are various pieces of furniture also designed by Gaudi. This building is also part of the Works of Antoni Gaudi UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Commonly known as La Pedrera, the Casa Mila is yet another house built by Gaudi for a wealthy nobleman. The building stands on a corner and is famous for its waving façade which covers two sides, and the interior courtyard hidden inside. The façade features amazing ironwork on the balconies, and chimneys or ventilation shafts with mosaics of tiles and glass (one with whole chunks of wine bottles almost looking like discarded trash). The owner died in the 40’s, and his widow in 60’s at which time the building was left neglected. It was almost torn down in the 70’s but was rescued and is now home to the foundation that manages many Gaudi buildings and exhibitions. This building is also part of the Works of Antoni Gaudi UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Image credit: Dos de Arte Ediciones SL
One of Gaudi’s lesser known works is the Teresian School. Like many of his projects, Gaudi actually took over the design and construction once the building was already underway. Of course he put his flair into it and today we’re left with a more conventional, yet still impressive façade. From the outside the windows don’t stick out, but the interior of building is absolutely drenched in daylight thanks to his innovative arched corridors. The main entrance also features a rather elaborate iron gate.
One of Barcelona’s most famous attractions is this large public park featuring many different pieces of Gaudi’s work. The park is choc full of Gaudi’s mosaic masterpieces (called trencadis) including the famous statue of a salamanda, the terraced seating, and the spire on an entrance building. Also in the park is Gaudi’s house, now a museum which is a must visit and features many pieces of ridiculous looking furniture designed by the man himself. Wildlife lovers should keep an eye out for rare parrots that live in manmade nests, also constructed by Gaudi. Finally, don’t forget to take a stroll down contrastingly bland colonnaded hall featuring serpentine shapes.
Easily Gaudi’s most famous work, and the most visited site in all of Spain, is the monumental Sagrada Familia. This was a project Gaudi inherited after the original architect quit, although Gaudi massively changed the design once he was in charge. Gaudi started the cathedral in 1883, making it his first work. However, 130 years on, the stunning building is still not complete! The famously complicated design has outlived Gaudi, even after he quit designing other buildings to focus solely on the Sagrada Familia. Today the building is under the control of Kiwi architect Mark Burry and is expected to finally be completed in the next ten years. Enough of the building has been built for services to be held, and the Pope consecrated it in a service to 6,500 people in 2010. The buildings features are many! There’s an entire façade with figurines re-enacting the Nativity Scene, heavy marble columns with turtles carved into their bases, and soaring spires with incredibly detailed stonework and Gaudi's famous colourful mosaics. The interior is simply spectacular. Massive pillars of pink, green and blue rise to a ceiling covered skylights and the brightest, most beautiful stained glass you’ll ever see. There will be a queue, but seeing this gloriously unique building is more than worth the wait.