For many people, a visit to Barcelona equals with tasting the delicious Catalan tapas, partying all night long and spending the day on one of the sandy beaches the city is surrounded by. However, your vision of Barcelona would be dented if it does not include some sightseeing, especially the modernist landmarks the city is famous for.
Most of them are signed by no one else but Antoni Gaudi – a mad man or a genius, as the principle of Barcelona's School of Architecture labeled him upon his graduation, back in 1870. Gaudí is the leader of Catalan modernists and devote his life to architecture. During his lifetime, he managed to get the financial support of several wealthy industrialists like Eusebi Güell and the Milà family, who financed his projects and promotes the development of Gaudi's genius.
Chimneys of La Pedrera, Barcelona - SXC/ninci
So, what makes Gaudi's work so special? Pious and austere, the Catalan architect excels by his avoidance of the right angle: magical details, vegetal motifs, animal curves, bold structures. Whether you find yourself inside a Gaudian building or in front of it, the organic monument will certainly captivate and overwhelm you with its architectural intricacies.
According to Salvador Dalí (another Catalan genius and one of Gaudí's greatest admirers) these architectural works arouse in us a kind of "original hunger", pushing us to taste their facades, which become "edible". Modernism has produced the first and only buildings to be not only inhabitable, but also desirable, even erotic!
Therefore, a visit to Barcelona should include at least some Gaudi's landmarks, seven of which are part of UNESCO heritage list. The best known of them is Park Guell, built between 1900 and 1914 for Eusebi Güell. The initial vision referred to a luxurious neighborhood, but the project turned out to be too expensive to finish and it was fully transferred to the city to the tourists' delight!
Mosaic details at Park Guell, Barcelona
Perched on a hill, the park overlooks the entire city, and provides some breathtaking views. Several of Gaudi's works are scattered here and there. While visiting the park, you will walk through pieces of mosaic, dislocated arches, and some divinely furnished elements of decor. Among the must-see, there is the colorful fountain located at the entrance to the park and decorated by a salamander, Sala Hipostila, the famous bench Trencadís with its the mosaic of colors, undulating like a snake all along square that holds the heart of the park. At the entrance, you also admire the two remarkable gatehouses that seem taken out straight from Alice's Wonderland.
Casa Battlo, Barcelona - SXC/calabepa
A building redesigned by the modernist genius, Casa Batllo is located in the Eixample district. The renovation works for which the owner (Joseph Batllo) commissioned Gaudi lasted two years. The house's façade made of glass and ceramics features as main design elements human bones and Venetian masks. The building is currently used for exhibitions and private events.
Standing on the corner of Passeig de Gracia and Provenca Street, La Pedrera (also known as Casa Mila) is another must-see landmark signed by Antoni Gaudi. The building with its wrought iron decorated façade is actually the last civil project the modernist architect got involved in before devoting his time and skills to religious edifices.
A great part of this period was consecrated to his lifetime project – La Sagrada Familia. The monumental church whose architectural sophistication only the angels can understand is still under construction.