Very few architects are tethered to a single place the way Antoni Gaudí is with Barcelona. The Catalan architect left his distinctive mark on the city with La Sagrada Família, his Roman Catholic masterpiece. Commencing construction in 1882, Gaudí knew that the intricate building would never be finished in his lifetime.
While the church is undoubtedly a Barcelona icon, the most renowned exponent of Catalan Modernism is responsible for a number of different buildings in Spain. If you’re looking to discover them in person, here are four Gaudí buildings not to miss:
La Sagrada Família has entered its final construction phase, with 2026 projected to be the expected year of completion. At 172.5 metres, it will be the tallest church in the world. Travellers heading to Barcelona know one thing for certain, La Sagrada Família is a must-visit.
The construction of La Sagrada Família commenced in 1882 under architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. However, in 1883, Antoni Gaudí took over the project, infusing it with his distinctive Modernista style. The basilica’s architecture symbolizes various Christian beliefs and narratives, depicted through its intricate sculptures, facades, and sculpted details.
The church's interior showcases a breathtaking interplay of light and color, primarily due to the stained glass windows that adorn the space, creating a mystical ambiance. Each facet of the basilica's design encapsulates Gaudí's deep connection with nature and his innovative approach to architecture, making it a quintessential masterpiece of Catalan Modernism.
When Gaudí passed away in 1926, La Sagrada Família was only between 15-25% complete. The most celebrated - and controversial - of his designs, the basilica has accumulated 36 million euros in debt.
So, it makes sense to pay a visit to the building, you know, for all the trouble. Delayed construction and finances aside, La Sagrada Família is a work of art. An aesthetically-intriguing combination of intricate facades, arches, monumental spires, and stained glass installations, all coming together to tower over downtown Barcelona.
As mentioned earlier, a tour of Gaudí’s Casa Milà, or ‘La Pedrera’, is a must-do on a trip to Spain. Completed between 1906 and 1912, the building was originally commissioned by Spanish businessman Pere Milà. He was looking for a beautiful home for himself and his wife.
At the time, the building wasn’t exactly well-received. Many locals deemed the architectural style to be too extravagant and unusual. Nonetheless, the building eventually gained UNESCO World Heritage Site recognition in 1984, cementing its status as a true cultural highlight of Spain.
Casa Milà’s rough stone exterior led to the building being nicknamed La Pedrera, which means quarry. With a rolling, asymmetrical facade and expressive balconies built from an unusual fusion of scrap metal, iron plates, and chains, the front of the building is considered to be the most striking part of the building.
Yet many visitors tend to take an interest in the rooftop. The winding, almost frightening sculptures resemble medieval knights and fascinatingly double as chimneys and ventilation shafts.
Gaudí once said: ‘There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature. Therefore, buildings must have no straight lines or sharp corners.’ Gaudí saw the natural world around him as perfect. From this, he drew plenty of inspiration. One of the most uplifting examples of his fascination with nature is El Capricho or The Sunflower House.
The summer villa can be found in Comillas, a small coastal town in the Cantabrian area of northern Spain. Built between the years 1883 and 1885, Gaudí was only 31 and relatively unknown when he was commissioned to design it.
A startling feature of the building is the facade, which has a near-constant presence of colourful ceramic tiles featuring sunflowers. The building also features an imposing, minaret-like tower, which can be spotted from great distances away. There is a number of guided tours available at the Sunflower House, check out TripAdvisor for more information.
Situated on Barcelona's most prestigious boulevard, Passeig de Gràcia, lies a stunning townhouse designed by Gaudí. Built between the years of 1904 and 1906 using a mixture of iron, ceramics, wood, glass, and stone, Casa Batlló is commonly referred to as Casa dels Ossos, which translates to House of Bones.
There’s no mistaking it, the building is skeletal in its aesthetic, however, look closely and you will notice that the facade is decorated in 'trencadis', a local mosaic style comprising colourful, broken ceramic fragments. This truly adds a joyful touch to the building.
To ensure a harmonious flow of natural light throughout the interior of the townhouse, Gaudí extended the patio and also decorated the interior with a series of blue-toned tiles.
One visit to Barcelona and you will be immersed in the rich, diverse, and turbulent history of the city through its imposing Gothic buildings, Catalan art nouveau structures, medieval quarters, contemporary artworks, and bustling marketplaces.
While culture, cuisine, history, and spectacular views are guaranteed on your adventure in the Mediterranean nation, carefully selected accommodation is what will take your holiday to the next level. From antique Parador hotels to contemporary wine resorts, we have rounded up some of the most beautiful hotels in Spain.
If you’re dreaming of a stay that offers ample opportunities for cultural and historical enrichment, as well as variety (but not overwhelming variety), start your holiday planning with Spanish accommodation group Parador.
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