Gaudí buildings in Barcelona are one of the most visited monuments in town, even by us, locals. We love Gaudí and it is part of our culture, modernism and the identity of the city.
If you would like to visit on your own Gaudí buildings in Barcelona keep reading, I will give you all my tips and best routes to do that, they are not difficult to find and I am sure that with some local inside tips and information will help you being more prepared.
Gaudí: the architect
Antoni Gaudí was born in 1852 in Reus, in a small town in Tarragona and he died in a street accident in 1926. He was a very religious man and prayed every day in Sant Felip Neri's church, he actually died in his way to the church as he was struck by a passing tram and lost consciousness. Since he was very poorly dressed, nobody recognised him and he did not receive immediate aid and he died two days later.
He got his architecture degree in 1878, in the middle of 19th century in Catalonia the intellectual context was marked by the “Modernisme” style. Modernism started as a movement to return to traditions and an expression of national identity in Catalonia and not only was present in architecture but also in literature, music and any artistic manifestation such as painting, sculpture etc…
The movement also came with the introduction of modern techniques and materials and Gaudí used them to shape up nature in his buildings. Gaudí is known to use artisan techniques in his buildings such as mosaic, ceramics, stained glass, ironwork forging and carpentry.
His inspiration was nature, and this was the most fascinating about his decorations, he used shapes that you see in nature such as a skeleton, reeds, bones etc..
The catenary arch was one of the most famous structures he used as before was only used in the construction of suspension bridges. He studied geometry when he was young and also engineering, his knowledge helped him use something known for common architecture.
Catenary arches are everywhere in his work from Casa Milà, to the Teresian college and allowed him to add strength in his structures without columns.
Gaudí's art characteristics
Gaudí is admired as an architect around the world for being unique in his architectural style. His designs were radically different from those of his contemporaries and he wasn't influenced by other architect's but focused on natural shapes.
His usage of color in his buildings is possible through his coloured tiles that arrange mosaic patterns and those give his buildings another dimension. The experience of seeing Gaudí's work is breathtaking with the combination of original design and vibrant colors.
He contributed greatly to the architectural heritage of the modern times and we are so lucky he was Catalan and the majority of his art is in Barcelona and the surrounding area. Gaudí anticipated and influenced many forms and techniques that were yet to be developed and have been relevant in the modern construction.
His buildings have a high degree of integrity with the environment and have a good relationship wherever they are if it is in the middle of the city or in a natural environment.
Gaudí buildings in Barcelona
Now that you know a bit more about the architect and all elements that are common in their work, we can start going around Gaudí buildings in Barcelona. If you can only visit one building because you are tight on time, you need to see Sagrada Familia, it is a must.
If you like Gaudí as much as I do, you will visit one by one all there is in town, but of course time might be a problem so if you need to do a quick Gaudí tour my recommendations are: Park Güell, Casa Batlló, Casa Milà and Sagrada Familia.
Gaudí has several buildings in Barcelona that made it up to the World Heritage site, such as: Sagrada Familia's nativity façade and the crypt, Casa Batlló, Casa Vicenç, Palau Güell, Park Güell and Casa Milà.
If you can't get into the inside of all of them, they are pricey and everything adds up to your budget. You should go anyway and observe the façade, they are amazing on the outside so you can get a feel on how they are on the inside.
I would recommend you to either read a lot about Gaudí so you know exactly what you are looking at or get an audio guide onsite if you are visiting the buildings on the inside. If you only see the façade outside, get a good book or a travel guide, to observe Gaudí buildings and take the most out of it, it is better that you have a clear idea of the elements you are seeing.
Let's go through Gaudí buildings chronologically from the start date:
Casa Vicenç (1883 - 1888)
Casa Vicenç is Gaudi's first important building and it was built as a residence ofr a rich family that owned a ceramic factory. This fact is reflected in the façade that contains “trencadis”, a variety of ceramic decorations. There is an Islamic influence in the façade and also on the inside in some of its rooms.
Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família and Sagrada Familia schools (1883 - and still being built)
Sagrada Familia is clearly the most famous of Gaudi's work. The church has been under construction for more than two centuries and it is expected to be finished by 2030. The church shows the relationship between nature, humans and religion through the façade sculptures and decoration.
I recommend you to take one of the skip the line tours or take your entrance online to save you time. Since it is a very unique building, you should take the audio guide so you can fully understand the meaning of sculptures, structure and decoration.
Pavellons Güell (1884 - 1887)
The Pavellons Güell is a huge property and one of Gaudi's most important client is definitely Eusebi Güell. The most interesting part of the Pavellons is the dragon Iron Gate manufactured by Vallet I Piques. The gate is decorates with vegetal fantasies and a medallion with the G of Güell.
Palau Güell (1886 - 1890)
Another Güell building that Gaudí built was the palace residence of the family. The façade is not what we would hope for a Gaudí building, but the magic is all in the inside and on the roof. The living room has a parabolic dome and the lounge ceiling has holes in it giving a planetarium appearance when the light comes in through the perforated ceiling.
Col·legi de les Teresianes (1888 - 1889)
The building is isolated and sober, it looks like a fortress actually but it is a convent school that Gaudí designed for a community of nuns from the Order of Saint Teresa of Jesus. The building is located behind the railings and in the gardens and has been used as a school since it was built.
Casa Calvet (1898 - 1900)
Casa Calvet is a residence for the Calvet family, they were from the textile industry. The façade has baroque influences, and the shape of the balconies remind us of those in Casa Batlló.
Torre Bellesguard (1900 - 1909)
Bellesguard in catalan means beautiful view, the perfect name for a building that lies halfway between Collserola Mountain and Barcelona city. The name comes from the age of Marti l'Humà -Martin of Aragon- that coined the name and had a residence on the site in the 15th century. The house is also known by the name Casa Figueras, the building is a modest mano house in Sant Gervasi area. We can see Gaudí's touch in the various mosaics that decorate the house.
Parc Güell (1900 -1914)
Parc Güell is one of Gaudí's jewels and it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. It is a public park in Barcelona now and has in it different houses including the same Gaudí's house. The majority of buildings have “trencadís”, this ceramic pieces we have been talking about that is so characteristic of his art and also appears in Art Nouveau. The most famous thing in the park is the ceramic dragon and the colonnade hall. Although the serpentine shapes and the catenary archs do not leave anyone indifferent.
Portal Miralles (1901)
Portal Miralles is part of a wall that surrounded the Miralle's family house. Nowadays we have left part of the Gaudí white wall made with trencadís.
Casa Batlló (1904 -1906)
Casa Batlló was the result of a house that was completely restored and he added his typical elements of Modernisme such as ceramics, stone and forged iron. It was not accepted at first in the city because of his design but in the end in 1906 the city council decided it was one of the top 3 best building of the year.
Casa Milà-known by the name of La Pedrera- (1906-1910)
La Pedrera is one of the main residential buildings and the one with more fantasy on it that is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage building. The façade is known for its undulating stone and the forged iron balconies that simulate natural shapes.
Gaudí building tour in Barcelona on your own
There are a lot of things to visit so do not pack your days and take the chance to do it by areas. I would say that at least you need three days to visit all Gaudí monuments and surrounding areas. Find in the map below the locations of all buildings in Barcelona.
Entrance tickets go from 10 to 30 euros per adult, children and students have reduced price, if you have a student id remember to bring it with you.
Show the Barcelona of Antoni Gaudí in a bigger map
My recommendation is that you do it by areas and not only you visit the Gaudí building but also the neighbourhood and everything it has to offer. In the map below, from left to right:
1. Sant Gervasi- La Bonanova area (left side in the map): Here you can find the Torre Bellesguard, Portal Miralles, Col·legi de les Teresianes and Pavellons Güell. The area is where the best bravas in Barcelona are, in Bar Tomás.
2. Gràcia neighborhood: here you can visit Park Güell and Casa Vicenç. Gràcia is an amazing area to shop, full of artisans and great restaurants as well, Verdi Bo another tapas bar is there see it the above best bravas (middle, in the map)
3. Eixample: Here you can visit Casa Batlló, Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera and Casa Calvet. Eixample is one of the most famous areas since it is in the city center: las Ramblas, El Born, Passeig de Gràcia, Plaça Catalunya etc... (right side, in the map)