Barcelona in Gaudi's footsteps

A master of architectural sea landscape immobilized in wrought iron, kaleidoscopic mosaics and stained glass, Antoni Gaudi was an outstanding artist impossible to be indifferent to. His highly unique and individualistic designs of surreal forms and vibrant colors are actually a collaborative work of the artist and the ultimate creator, Nature. Inspired by the magical world of natural wonders, Gaudi developed an incomparable style of highly irregular and intricate architecture endowed with unparalleled hypnotic power. Once you enter Gaudi's kingdom you just can't stop gazing, your eyes gliding from sensuous curves, color nuances and mysterious shapes. A feast to the eye and a mind teaser, Gaudi's design undoubtedly questions formal order and warps Gothic in a way that is hard not to be admired. Here opens the gate to Gaudi's mesmerizing world of form and color, a breathtaking stop on your Spanish vacations itinerary.

1. Colònia Güell Crypt


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Built as a worship place for the textile industrial estate of Santa Coloma de Cervelló, Colònia Güell is an outstanding piece of Gaudi's unfinished work. Financial problems of Gaudi's patron and a dear friend, Count Eusebi de Güell who commissioned the church to be built, put an end to the construction. Despite being incomplete, the church and its crypt in particular, are regarded as a masterpiece for a number of technical and decorative reasons. The variety of building materials such as glass, ceramics, smelting slag, basalt and burnt ceramic bricks together with the architectural elements like caternary arches and hyperbolic paraboloids topped with stunning ornaments including Gaudinian crosses, floral stained glass windows and ceramic mosaics make it a unique place.

In the Crypt. Photo by Mercucio

2. Sagrada Familia

Utterly hallucinatory and surreal, the Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada Familia is yet another incomplete masterpiece of Barcelona's most prestigious architect, Antoni Gaudí. Started in 1882 and still under construction, the cathedral dominates Barcelona's skyline with eight magnificent spires soaring up to a 100 meters and an intricately detailed façade of eerie lines and neo-Gothic perpendicular grandeur. Here again the master of color and fairy-like forms, Gaudi, enchants with  the diversity of building material, a color light performance, organic feel and plenty of symbolism. A monument to God, Barcelona and Gaudi, Sagrada Familia is a place to visit for magical spiritual moments and aesthetic delights.

God, Barcelona, Gaudi - the Sagrada Familia. Photo by mbell1975

3. Park Güell

No better place to marvel at a myriad of colors and get a perfect tutorial on tiling, Park Güell lures with amazing stone pillars twisting along the alleyways, branch-like vaulting and a stunning mosaic-ornamented terrace of serpent-like benches to admire the Barcelona cityscape from. Commissioned by Eusebi Güell, the park was meant to serve as a stylish design retreat for the city's aristocracy. It surely does treat its visitors to plenty of soothing atmosphere mixed with an added value of Gaudi's creative genius colorful splash. The observant and art-sensitive visitor will find the park filled with many motifs of Catalan nationalism along with elements of religious mysticism and even ancient poetry.

The amazing Park Guell. Photo by MorBCN

4. Casa Milà

However hard you'll try to find straight lines and some established principles of construction, you won't find them in Casa Milà. La Pedrera, meaning the Quarry, as it was mockingly called at the time of its construction, perfectly embodies Gaudi's fascination with the natural world of sea creatures and flora. The building is in fact more of an undulating sculpture carved from sand-colored solid stone with a façade to inspire even the most unimaginative of minds than a functional building. Here, the curvy lines snake from window to window, intertwine with wrought iron balconies and climb ivy-like up the intricate face of the building till they get to the amazing rooftop, a captivating collection of bizarre curvy forms resembling human faces. To top off your Gaudi experience at Casa Mila, visit the attic floor with an interactive space promoting Gaudi heritage and don't miss out the stunning views over Barcelona cityscape stretching from the roof.

Strolling the rooftop of Casa Mila. Photo by andrediaslopes

5. Casa Batlló

Twisting and curving from the very bottom to the very top, Casa Batlló is yet another marvelous example of Gaudi's hallucinatory design. Commissioned by Josep Batlló, a wealthy aristocrat, as an upmarket residence, the building is indisputably a poetic experience. Perfectly avoiding any straight lines, the architect has managed to breathe life into the amazing and highly intricate form. The façade, covered with splendid golden orange and greenish mosaics, strikes with skull -resembling balconies supported by bone-like pillars. The skeletal organic feel is also to be found in the somewhat "scale" covering of the walls, the effect enhanced by the polychromic finish, climbing up to the eerie roof that makes you think of a reptilian creature or a dragon's back. An amazing color and form feast to behold.

Skull-like balconies of Casa Batllo. Photo by tato grasso

Some call him an enfant terrible of architecture, Spanish travel guides praise Antonio Gaudi as a prime tourist attraction. Gaudi - a distorted mind or timeless artistry? Don't have others make opinions for you and experience for yourself.

This is a guest post from Efimero who blogs for Open Travel. Follow her and other writers over at the Open Travel website.

You should follow me on twitter here.

Last updated by Efimero on 09 May, 2010 in Travel.

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Comments

Damn. Now you just made me even more tempted to go to Barcelona - it has been in the top of my wish to go list for a long time now!!! Those are fabulous creations. Architecture art. *admiring eyes*

Lifecruiser Travel Blog on 10 February, 2010

Stunning, aren't they? I've seen the outside of Casa Battlo and been in Sagrada Familia. Oh, and Park Guell. So I've got a real connection with these places, as I'd personally love to live in one of Gaudi's buildings.

Jack on 11 February, 2010

Great post!!

My favourite one is not in this article, but you should visit it :)

There are some of his buildings in Reus, for example, a city near Barcelona.

www.videosfrombarcelona.com :)

Gina on 13 February, 2010

Brilliant!

We're HUGE fans of Gaudi & as gorgeous as these pics are, they are even better in person!

On our open ended, non-stop world tour since 2006, we've been to Barcelona 8 times, often staying a month...but still enjoy immensely.

Even our young child is a Gaudi fan! ;)

soultravelers3 on 15 February, 2010

I have always thought Gaudi's architecture is so stunning, but I have never had the chance to see it yet in person -- only work elsewhere that has been inspired by it. It is one of the main reasons why I'm dying to visit Spain. These photos are gorgeous!

Emily @ Maiden Voyage on 16 February, 2010

Great post. Thank you.

The Modernisme Centre at the Tourist Information Office on Pl. Catalunya sells a Modernisme Guidebook that describes the best Modernisme architecture in Barcelona and maps out a walking tour. When you show it at included attractions, you'll get up to 50% off admission. They also offer guided walking tours. Most of Gaudi's work is included and you'll also see buildings by his contemporaries Domenech i Montaner and Puig de Cadafalch.

Molly Ottersen on 25 February, 2010

@Molly

Great tip, and one I'll add to my upcoming Barcelona guide.

Jack on 26 February, 2010

Gaudi's works are a sight to behold! Love your photography - stunning!

Julie Gilley on 05 March, 2010

I wish I were in Colònia Güell this morning. I did not get to visit while in Barcelona last May, but can't wait to return for more of my new favorite architect.

Dee Andrews on 12 March, 2010

Yes, Barcelona is a vibrant city with amazing architecture.

One of the things I really like about it, are the lively streets in summer time...

Thailand Breeze on 13 March, 2010

I've made a timeline of Gaudi’s life works so that you can tour them one by one in the order he worked on them. You can also visit his birthplace, and find the place where the event that took his life happened.

http://www.ok-visit.com/barcelona/attractions/following-gaudis-footsteps

Harriet Freeman on 22 August, 2012

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