Forget Evel Knievel and David Blaine, Antoni Gaudí was hands down the greatest rebel of all time. He may not have cleared a dozen buses via a motorcycle, but in the world of architecture he has some serious street cred. Gaudí redefined design at a time when classic Victorian style reigned king. His boldly unique art nouveau style rocked the boat back then and still does today.
Born on the coast of Catalonia in 1852, Gaudí’s natural interest in architecture eventually led him to Barcelona, Spain’s most advanced city at the time, to pursue his passions. He found inspiration in the colorful, botanical-chic styles of Egypt, Morocco and India. Nature motifs can be found in the colors, shapes, and details of Gaudí’s genius designs.
Today, eight out of ten tourists visit Barcelona for the architecture – most of which is Gaudí’s. The city of Barcelona can be considered a personal portfolio for Mr. Antoni Gaudí, as it is home to almost all of his creations. If you ever find yourself in Barcelona, here are the top 8 must-see Gaudí masterpieces!
1. The Sagrada Familia
The Sagrada Familia is considered to be Gaudí’s greatest work. From afar the towers and arches of this grand cathedral appear to melt into each other. But get a little closer and you realize that this illusion is created by the fine details covering the building top to bottom. The inside is part church, part rainforest canopy, with columns that take the form of trees and a kaleidoscope of colors flooding in from stained glass windows.
Photo Credit: Carlos Lorenzo
2. Casa Batlló
You probably don’t have any houses like this one in your neighborhood. Also known as “The House of Bones,” the six story Casa Batlló looks like it got up and walked right off the pages of a fairytale. An ocean-esque color palette of magnificent blues and purples follow the waves of this flowing structure. The fairytale theme continues on the roof, where a dragon-inspired beast of a structure stands tall.
Photo Credit: Victor Wong
3. Casa Vicens
Casa Vicens was Gaudí’s very first creation. Manuel Vicens, the man who commissioned the house, owned a brick and tile factory – and it certainly shows. Combining floral ceramics and colorful bricks, Gaudí set a precedent for himself with this over-the-top design. After being privately owned for years, “the house where it all began” is expected to open to the public as an interactive museum in the spring of 2017.
4. Parc Güell
One of the world’s most beautiful and well-known public parks, Parc Güell opens its gates to more than 9 million visitors per year. When Gaudí’s patron Eusebi Güell commissioned the project, he instructed Gaudí to create a “garden city.” So Gaudí went to work drawing up plans for a residential community inspired by and intertwined with nature. Of the 60 planned houses, only 2 were actually built, leaving most of the space open for trails, benches and one of Gaudí’s favorite decorations: trees.
Photo Credit: Jack Acecroft
5. Casa Milà
Since this building’s completion in 1912, Casa Milà has come be known as La Pedrera, or the “Quarry,” named for its jagged and grey appearance. It was intended to serve as a combined apartment and office building, but, today, serves as a landmark and UNESCO World Heritage Site. La Pedrera may be relatively simplistic in comparison to the celebrated architect’s other designs however, in classic Gaudí fashion, the roof is spectacularly ornamental. Here you can find a mini army of chimneys that take the shape of knights.
Photo Credit: James Silva
6. Palau Güell
The Palau Güell was one of Gaudí’s earliest projects, with construction beginning in 1886. Some say that the arched exterior resembles the Venetian Palace (no, not the one in Vegas). No doorway, window, or ceiling in the Palau Güell went untouched – each room is more spectacular than the last. And, as expected, the roof is the grand finale: 20 mosaicked chimneys, each unique in color and design!
Photo Credit: Pleuntje
7. Gaudí Crypt
This cathedral is the centerpiece of Colònia Güell, an industrial complex comprised of factory buildings, residential living, schools, etc. Many of the architectural techniques used for the Sagrada Familia were first tested on the Gaudí Crypt. By using leaning pillars and arches, Gaudí eliminated the need for supporting walls and buttresses.
Photo Credit: SBA73
8. Güell Pavilions
I guess Güell just couldn’t get enough of Gaudí’s art nouveau designs. He was commissioned to remodel his summer estate, made up of the gatekeeper’s house and what used to be the horse stables. The buildings are breathtaking, but it’s the iron-clad dragon gate that really steals the show. It was modeled after the mythical creature from the Garden of Hesperides and protects the Pavilion from unwanted visitors!