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A Guide to Gaudi's Barcelona

Antoni Gaudi was a Spanish architect, famous for his unusual but unmistakable designs.   It's almost impossible to visit the Catalan capital city without discovering his work and being amazed by the intricate design and attention to detail.

I don't profess to know much about architecture, but I know what I like and Gaudi's work is right up there.  I first visited the city a decade ago and was struck by how beautiful, and often colourful, his buildings were. This is my guide to Barcelona's must see Gaudi spots:

Sagrada Familia:
Everyone knows the basics of the story of SF and its seemingly never ending construction.   

The ground was broken on the site in 1882 and, at the time of writing in 2016, the cathedral is still strewn with cranes and scaffolding as work continues towards its eventual completion.   It is estimated that the church towers will finally be finished around 2026, which will be the centenary of Gaudi's death.   Other decorative elemenfs are not expected to be finished until after 2030.  

However, knowing what my local builders are like, I think that's possibly a generous timeline. Maybe Spanish contractors are different; I just don't know.   I highly doubt it, though, and we can only wonder how many cups of tea the Archbishop has to make in a day to keep his workers happy.  

Anyway, despite the fact that the cathedral isn't even finished yet, it has already earned UNESCO World Heritage status, which is an incredible feat, considering it might be crap when it's done.  I jest, of course; it's already absolutely outstanding and can also be more so in the future.

Incredibly, the church receives (and has received) no public funding.   The investment comes entirely from private donors and, these days, entry fees.   Going to visit SF will not only blow your mind, but will also help to gift the world Gaudi's vision.   And you can't really argue with that.  I first visited Sagrada Familia back in 2006 and the difference was marked from a mere decade into its almost 135 year construction.   

Instantly recognisable and can generally be spotted from a distance due to all the people taking photos.   

Casa Mila (La Pedrera)
More commonly known by its nickname, 'La Pedrera' (the quarry). this building is the last civil work by Gaudi and was completed in 1912 on the Passeig de Graçia.

The building was commissioned by a wealthy widow and her second husband, Pere Mila (hence the name) and caused some degree of controversy surrounding its curved design and very unique style.  Gaudi was asked to design the property as a residential home, which you'd have real difficulty getting through the planning process in this day and age.   Changing your windows can be problematic, but building a massive curvy house without load bearing walls and imaginative staircases would have you tangled up with your local council FOREVER.

These days, the building is occupied by the Fundacio Catalunya La Pedrera, who offer the building as an exhibition space and visitor attraction, where you can wonder at the marvellous design from the inside and take a trip up to the stunning roof terrace.   

Casa Mila is an incredible building, sitting on the corner of the street, surrounded by other structures that, quite frankly, pale into comparison beside it.  However, this beauty does come at a price, with adult tickets coming in at a quite astounding €39.50   Each.    Kids under 7 are free, so if you have little ones you might not *quite* need that second mortgage.  

In all seriousness, though, it is completely incredible and you won't be disappointed with your visit.   Poorer, yes, but not disappointed.   There's also a shop and restaurant on site, should you be feeling particularly flush.

As with Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Parc Guell:
Situated on Carmel Hill above the city, Parc Guell offers a stunning view across the city and is a real mixture of beautifully coloured Mediterranean tile and colourless rock passageways (very similar to the facades of SF).

Guell is a public park and is a maze of beautiful land and wonderful walkways and viewpoints.   Give its location, it's a fair climb up the side of a hill just to reach the entrance.   And it doesn't get any less steep once you're exploring inside.      It's particularly challenging when it's 32 degrees.   Still, it's very much worth the complete exhaustion.

Although the majority of the park is free to enter, there is a charge for the Monument section.   If you like doing your hill walking before your first bocadillo of the day, the Monument is free if you arrive before 8am.   I'm too lazy to get out of bed for anything before 8am.  Even Gaudi.  

Tickets for the monument are €6 and are allocated in 30 min slots.  At the height of season, it's anxiety inducinglybusy (for me, anyway), so it is best to pre order online to ensure your space.   Gaudi's home on the site, despite not being of his own design, is now the Gaudi Museum. There's also an additional charge for visitng this.

The highlight of the parc, for me, are the two buildings at the entrance gates, which are simply stunning, with their spanish tile glinting in the sun.  El Drac, which is a massive colourful salamander (the dragon) is also incredible, although I didn't to have to pay to have my photo taken with him back in 2006.   Such is life.   Sadly, in 2007, the statue was badly vandalised, which was a truly shocking crime to commit on one of Barca's iconic and best known landmarks.   He's been restored to his former glory, though and he continues to snake proudly down his staircase.

If colourful animals are your thing, Do (and listen) out for the parrots on your way round, though, as these lovely birdies live happily with in the park and are very fond of singing.  

A Guide to Gaudi's Barcelona
Casa Batllo's wonderful rooftop and chimneys
Casa Batllo
Widely regarded as one of Gaudi's masterpieces, this house, built in 1877, is located on Passieg de Gracia.  

It was purchased by the Batllo family in the early 1900s and the building still holds their name today.   As well as the official title of Casa Batllo, the house is all locally known as the House of Bones, due to its skeletal type structure.

The exterior of the house is divided into three vastly different sections, which are impressively merged together.   The lower level is built from Monjuic sandstone, with the uneven lines that make the building instantly recognisable as a Gaudi design.  The middle section is complete with a series of balconies and colourful design, while the roof is replete with beautifully coloured ceramic tiles and is often likened to the  scaly back of a dragon.

As well as the truly impressive building exterior, Casa Batllo also has a great deal to offer inside.   Part of the building is open to the public as a museum and gives locals and tourists alike the opportunity to step within the famous Noble Floor.

Tickets are available for between 22.50 and 29.50 Euros, depending on whether you'd like to bother standing in line or not.    Prices are a touch steep, but it is outstanding from the inside, if that makes sense...  

Alternatively, go stare at it from outside.  It's impossible not to be blown away by every detail.  

Casa Calvet:
This is one of Gaudi's earlier commissions and was built for both private and business purposes for his client, Pere Calvet, who was a textile manufacturer.

In comparison with the more 'recent' works, this is a really conservative and understated building.   However, it still has Gaudi hallmarks at every turn; particularly in terms of the roof top and the protruding wrought iron balconies.

The building is located on the terrace at Career de Casp in the Eixample neighbourhood and now has a restaurant on the bottom floor.    The rest of the building is not open to the public.

The eatery, ingeniously called Restaurant Casa Calvet, isn't quite as horrendously expensive as you might think.   Their weekly lunch menu comes in at just shy of 40 Euros and looks pretty tasty tbh.   

I didn't try it myself as I cannot be trusted to be in nice places and not spill food/break crockery.    It's better for everyone if I just eat at home/some place it doesn't matter. 

A Guide to Gaudi's Barcelona
check out these gates.   You will NEVER be broken into at Casa Vicens.   

Casa Vicens:
Dating back to 1888 and located in the lovely Gracia neighbourhood on the Carrer de las Carolinas, Casa Vicens was purchased by Mora Banc in 2014 and is a private property.   Boooo!

Don't worry, though, it is currently being restored and the interior transformed into a museum that will be open to the public.   Yay!  

Antoni Gaudi completed the residence when he was a mere 30 years old, under the commission of Manuel Vicens Montaner.     When I was 30, I still didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up.

Anyway, Señor Montaner was a tile merchant, which largely explains the outstandingly colourful design and quality of the home's exterior facade.   It is truly astounding to view.    

This was the first private residence by Gaudi and was very well received at the time.  Unfortunately, his subsequent, more, shall we say 'curvy' designs were not as popular with the locals in Barca.   Casa Vicens was designate a UNESCO World Heritage Site way back in 2005.

Have you visited Gaudi's hot spots in Barcelona?

Suzanne x

This post first appeared on Sightseeingshoes, please read the originial post: here

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A Guide to Gaudi's Barcelona


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