Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (1852 – 1926) was a Catalan architect known as the greatest exponent of Catalan Art Nouveau or Modernmisme. His work included nature as a source of decoration and nationalistic elements with a Catalan identity and folklore. As a very religious person, his architecture was influenced by God and the nature that God created. Thus, you can see shapes from nature added to his elements, like curves, water bubbles, skulls, shells, bones plus bat shapes and wings. He also used the catenary arch in many of his designs, which is a type of architectural arch that follows an inverted catenary curve.
Listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites between 1984 and 2005, “seven properties ….. in or near Barcelona testify to Gaudí’s exceptional creative contribution to the development of architecture and building technology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These monuments represent an eclectic, as well as a very personal, style which was given free reign in the design of gardens, sculpture and all decorative arts, as well as architecture. The seven buildings are: Parque Güell; Palacio Güell; Casa Mila; Casa Vicens; Gaudí’s work on the Nativity façade and Crypt of La Sagrada Familia; Casa Batlló; Crypt in Colonia Güell.”
The works by Gaudi in Barcelona that I visited and recommend include the following:
Sagrada Familia: This is a must on your list of things to see. It is Gaudi’s main undertaking which is a cathedral based on the Latin cross. Gaudi took over the project in 1882. In 1883 he made fundamental changes to the first project and continued the work until his death. The crypt was built in 1884 – 89 and the Nativity façade was finished in 1905; the four bell towers were completed in 1925 – 30. The drawings were lost in, I believe, the Spanish Civil War and had to be redone completely. The transept elevation of the Passion was started in 1960. Work continues today to finish this huge project. The interior is really exceptional.
Casa Batlló, Passeig de Gracia 43: One of Gaudi’s homes, not to be missed. It was a renovation of an existing building completed in 1906. It contains his famous broken tile mosaics on the exterior and on the roof. As you walk through, make sure to take note of the stained glass windows in the drawing room and the wooden doors and windows.
Colonia Güell : If you have time, take the Metro to Placa Espana and connect to a suburban line. Go to the town of Colonia Güell and walk from the station into town. Here the Güell family owned a large textile manufacturing facility and employed a large number of the townspeople. Gaudi designed a church and crypt for the Güell family which is known for its ceiling and stained glass. I walked through the town and had lunch in a café on the main square. It was nice to get out of the city and enjoy a small town.
Palau Güell, Carrer Nou de la Rambla 3-5: Having recently been renovated, this is a Gaudi house built for the Güell family. It is well worth the visit. The finishes are rich and the atrium/dome is wonderful.
La Pedrera/Casa Mila, Carrer Provenca 261-265: This is the famous apartment building finished by Gaudi in 1912. You can’t miss the famous wave-like stone exterior with iron balconies. The interior matches the exterior as there are no right angles. Make sure you explore the roof with its interesting architectural details and great views. Below is a museum which showcases Gaudi’s talents and how he built the building. You also get to walk through one of the apartments which is decorated in the modernist style. As you are walking take note of the handrails, the tiles, the ceilings. This is a must see on your visit and it is one of seven Gaudi buildings on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.
Museu del Modernisme Catala, Balmes 48: This is a really wonderful museum specializing in the art and decoration of the Modernista period (Spanish Art Nouveau). It has a large collection of furniture by Antoni Gaudi, Juan Busquets and Gaspar Homar and some wonderful paintings, sculptures and stained glass downstairs in the lower gallery. Works were by Ramon Casas, Santiago Rusinol, Joaquim Mir, Joseph Limona and Eusebi Arnau. The lighting of the paintings was really exceptional. It was interesting to have eaten lunch at Casa Calvet and then to have seen Gaudi’s furniture he designed for the original house in the collection!! Make sure to look closely at the detailed work on the furniture!
Casa Museu Gaudi: Located in Park Güell, this is where Gaudi lived from 1906 until 1926 and includes furniture, works, drawings and his personal items. The entire property is really wonderful to see. Make sure you see the plaza with Gaudi’s amazing mosaic tile work made of broken pottery.
Casa Calvet is a building, designed by Antoni Gaudí for a textile manufacturer which served as both a commercial property and a residence. It is located at Carrer de Casp 48, in the Eixample district of Barcelona. It was built between 1898 and 1900. The only way to visit the property was to eat in a restaurant on the first floor. You can enjoy the stunning architecture while dining.