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