If you have ever been to Barcelona, you must have noticed that the Catalan capital is a city spellbound by modernism. One of the most influential architects of this art nouveau movement was Antoní Gaudí.
Born in 1852 in Tarragona, Gaudí was most prolific in Barcelona, where he transformed the bustling city into a modernist capital of the world. Toward the last years of his life, Gaudí escaped from the public eye and lived a life of solitude.
But he was, nevertheless, an architectural genius. He met a tragic death at the age of 71 when he was struck by a tram in Barcelona in 1926, but the modernist's legacy and the beauty he envisioned and created live on.
Gaudí's Basílica de la Sagrada Familia (Church of the Sacred Family) is perhaps his best known work and the most recognizable feature of Barcelona's city landscape. Gaudí began his work on the masterpiece in 1882, and over 130 years later the Church is still unfinished. Sagrada Familia is expected to be completed within 30-80 years, but in the meantime visitors from all over the world flock to see the work-in-progress. From the exterior stone facade inhabited by religious symbols to the interior whose crevices are flooded by light and stained glass, la Sagrada Familia is a wonder.
Park Güell is a park and garden complex that offers arguably the best, panoramic view of Barcelona. Located on a hill just North of the center of the city, the park features Gaudí's renowned mosaics — the iconic "el drac" — twisted rock pillars that form pathways, and serpentine, ceramic benches. The park is one of Gaudís UNESCO World Heritage Sites. At the top of the Park visitors can also visit one of Gaudí's previous homes, which now serves as a museum.
Casa Milá, commonly known as "La Pedrera" is one of the most distinguishable buildings in the city of Barcelona, a hallmark of the modernist movement and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Construction of the building began in 1906 and took six years. Located on Passeig de Gracia, the posh and extravagant "5th Avenue" of the city, La Pedrera is one of the city's major tourist attractions. Its jutting stone facade, wrought iron decor, lavish windows and unique rooftop area make La Pedrera a feast for the eyes.
Just across the street from "La Pedrera" rests Casa Batlló, one of Gaudí's masterpieces and most visually striking works of architecture in the city. Gaudí began to work of art in 1904 for the Batlló's private family home, but the building has since been transformed into a museum. The building highlights Gaudí's playful style and his reliance on nature for architectural inspiration. The blue tiles, serpentine stairways and white undulating pillars are meant to replicate the movement of the ocean. The original name of the building, "House of Bones" describes the exterior facade that resembles a skeleton.
Designed and built for the wealthy commissioner, Count Güell, Gaudí began his construction of the medieval-themed palace, the Palau Güell, in 1885. But the Palau was not simply a private home — Count Güell shared it with the city by using his palace to host exhibitions concerts and celebratory events. The parabolic arch, brightly colored honeycomb turrets and the combination of marble, ceramic and stained glass featured on the building's interior and rooftop have become cornerstones of Gaudí's architectural works.
Casa Vicens is one of Gaudí's earliest and lesser known works to grace Barcelona's city streets. Designed for the wealthy Manuel Vicens, the house has become a world heritage site as Gaudi's first important work. From its asymmetrical frame, jutting buttresses and rooftop towers, the building reveals a moorish influence — that is less characteristic of Barcelona but extremely popular in Southern Spain.