It’s impossible to talk about Barcelona without bringing up Antoni Gaudí, the iconic Catalan architect whose famous works are embedded throughout the Spanish city and are as distinctive to Barcelona landscape as La Rambla or the Barceloneta themselves—bold, striking, and completely breathtaking, Gaudí’s art is an integral part of Barcelona’s identity.
written by Zoe Gabe photographed by Erron Ocampo
Considered one of the great geniuses of architecture, Antoni Gaudí was an artist whose capacity for creation exceeded the conventions of his time. His buildings, which often marked a departure from the design of the day, were characterized by the use of the latest innovations and materials, such as iron, lavishly used in his La Sagrada Familia. Gaudí was also fascinated by geometry and nature, and used these as inspiration for his work—from the buildings he created for the bourgeoisie and the Church to the furniture and fixtures that went with these structures.
Gaudí was, in many ways, the definitive artist—complex and creative—and his expression found the perfect outlet in Barcelona, a place that embraced art not only through Gaudí’s designs but also nurtured the talents of other Spanish artists such as Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso. Like its famous architect, Barcelona is a city bursting with artistic creativity. Vibrant and visceral, it’s a city that can’t be ignored. is year, as travelers ock to the Catalan capital, they’ll find much more than great tapas and sparkling Cava (though there is that too), they’ll also encounter an art scene like no other—alive and flourishing through the many works of Antoni Gaudí.
La Sagrada Familia
If Barcelona is Gaudí’s city, then nothing is more representative of the deeply religious architect than the Basílica Expiatòria de la Sagrada Família (Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Sacred Family). Designed by Gaudí to employ
a mix of late Gothic and Modernisme (Catalan Art Nouveau) style, the basilica’s twisted columns and tall, pointed spires are a formidable sight, while the building’s interiors, with their intricate decorative details, colorful stained glass, and unusual crucifix, are just as fascinating.
Considered by many to be Gaudí’s definitive masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia was also his last and most famous unfinished work (and incidentally, also his final resting place). Construction on the church began in 1882 and continues to this day with a projected end date of 2026, in time for the centennial anniversary of Gaudí’s death.
Tip: Look closely at the basilica’s Nativity façade and Crypt, both of which have been declared by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
One of the major works of Gaudí in Barcelona, Parc Güell is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and a result of the collaboration and friendship between entrepreneur Eusebi Güell and Antoni Gaudí. The park was initially designed in 1900 to serve as a private estate for well-off families, and Gaudí himself lived there for many years. In 1926, it was opened to the public as a private park and now remains one of the most beloved attractions in Barcelona, with its cheerful colors, beautifully landscaped garden, and Gaudí’s trademark tile mosaics.
Tip: Don’t miss out on going to the terraced area at the very top where you’ll get a magnificent view of the park and the city of Barcelona while sitting on the famous tiled benches of the Banc de Trencadis.
Uno de 50
Handcrafted in Spain, UNOde50’s statement jewelry is the perfect fashion complement to Gaudí’s architectural masterpieces. Organic and sophisticated, the pieces in this high-end jewelry line are designed for people with an
eye for the unconventional. Because each piece exudes personality and air, they can be worn anywhere—from a gallery opening to the beach to a nightclub in the city. Wear them on days when you visit Gaudí’s creations and, like the artist, revel in the value of being different.
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, Casa Batlló was remodeled by Gaudí in the 19th century for the textile manufacturer Josep Batlló, who wanted to use the lower floors of the property as his private residence. The building’s colorful façade, which boldly eschews straight lines, appears to resemble skulls and bones, a resemblance that gave birth to the house’s local name: Casa dels Ossos (House of Bones). In typical Gaudí fashion, every nook and cranny of the house’s interior is carefully designed to exhibit a speci c form and function, a testament to Gaudí’s attention to detail.
Tip: After gazing up at the house’s exterior, don’t skimp on buying a ticket and going inside to see Casa Batlló’s loft, noble oors, and roof terrace, all of which are a visual feast.
As with many of his works, Gaudí used much of what he saw in nature to form the design of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Casa Milà. He was reported to have said, “Nature is a large book that always lies open and which you must try to read.” From the outside, Casa Milà looks like a petrified wave and was given the moniker La Pedrera ( The Stone Quarry) as its outer appearance was remarked to be reminiscent to that of an open quarry, with its sinuous curves. Commissioned by industrialist Pere Milà and his wife to serve as a family home and apartments for rent, the building is used today as the headquarters of the Catalunya-La Pedrera Foundation and a cultural center for various exhibitions. Portions of the house remain open to the public.
Tip: Though the ticket price is a bit hefty, the courtyards, the roof terrace, and the attic (Espai Gaudí) in particular, all display distinctive elements of Gaudí’s architecture and are must-sees in their own right.