Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) had a distinctive style rich in freedom of form, depth of color and texture. He worked exclusively in or near Barcelona, spending much of his career occupied with the construction of the Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family or Sagrada Familia. Working on it, he became increasingly devout. After 1910 he abandoned virtually all other work and secluded himself on its site residing in the workshop. At the age of 74, while on his way to vespers, he was hit by a trolley car and died from his injuries.
Gaudi’s work is not only staggeringly beautiful and ethereal, but organically unifying – his works feel like pieces of nature blending into their own environments. This master architect’s gifts should not be missed when you’re in Barcelona. Here are some of the most prolific examples.
1. Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
The Sagrada Familia is a Catholic basilica begun in 1882 and astonishingly is still incomplete, but has a proposed completion date in 2026. Of all Gaudí’s works the Sagrada Familia is the finest example of his idea of art. This masterpiece is a mix of Gothic and Art Nouveau design and is breathtaking any time of year. The basilica has 18 spires, or towers, representing the 12 Apostles, the Virgin Mary, the four Evangelists and, the tallest of them all, Jesus Christ. You can go up the towers in the Nativity Facade and Passion Facade, to admire the breathtaking views of the city and the Mediterranean Sea. Once the center spires are complete, you will be able to ascend them as well. If you want to visit the works of Gaudi, Barcelona is the place to be and so is Villa Tamara. When staying at this impressive eight-bedroom home, everything will be at your fingertips – amazing amenities like an outdoor pool and Jacuzzi, and a stunning garden and terrace all in close proximity to the city center.
2. Colonia Güell Church (Guell Crypt), Colonia Güell
Eusebi Güell was a patron of Gaudi’s and asked him to design a church for workers at the textile factory he owned in Colonia Güell, about a half hour drive outside Barcelona. Sadly, Gaudi wasn’t able to complete the entire project and only the basement or crypt area was finished. It was (and still is) large enough to act as a true church. Inside you will find inclined columns, ribbed arches and stained glass that appears like flitting butterflies. It was here Gaudi tested his centenarian arches that would go on to become one of his signatures. Forever an environmentalist, he recycled factory materials to decorate the space.
3. Casa Batlló, Barcelona
The Casa Batlló building was originally built in 1877. In 1903 it was purchased by Josep Batlló y Casanovas, a textile industrialist who owned several factories in Barcelona. He gave Gaudi complete control to redo the building. Gaudi completely changed the façade, redistributing the internal partitioning, expanding the patio of lights and converting the inside into a true work of art. The building is now owned by the Bernat family, who have fully restored the house. In 1995, the family opened the doors to the public presenting this architectural gem to the world. Since 2002 – coinciding with the International Year of Gaudi – cultural visits have been offered at Casa Batlló. Today, Casa Batlló is a UNESCO World Heritage site and an icon in Barcelona – a must see for anyone who wants to discover Gaudí’s work and see modernism at its finest. It is also one of the most highly rated cultural and tourist attractions, welcoming about a million visitors every year.
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