You cannot take a trip to Barcelona and ignore the work of Antoni Gaudí even if you tried, throughout the city his amazing work is staring you in the face. Either in buildings created by him if not then by buildings inspired by him. Gaudí is everywhere in this city and you might as well embrace it.
Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) was born just down the coast from Barcelona in Reus and was a devoted Catholic as well as Catalan nationalist. Many say his creations were a conscious expression of Catalan identity. His Modernisme style reflected that of the Gothic era, the oriental movement and the Spanish Moors which heavily influenced him. Basically what I’m saying is Gaudí’s work has many influences but has become a movement and inspiration in itself. Gaudí will surprise you, inspire you and leave you wanting to see more, every time. I fell in love with his work more than any other architecture’s before (don’t get me wrong the Cathedral is amazing too) and only wish I’d seen more.
Gaudí’s Work in Barcelona
La Sagrada Família
This is probably the most famous work by Gaudí, it began construction in 1883 and is still not finished to this day. It is estimated to be finished by 2026, which will be the hundred year anniversary of his death. Gaudí spent most of his living life trying to find the funds to work on this project and since he died this trend has continued especially with much controversy over the designs. There is still so much work to do until this church will be complete but you can visit the areas which are complete while in Barcelona.
The main church space is fully open at ground level and from inside the only giveaways to its incompletion are the nettings hanging from the ceiling. However, outside is a different story, parts are cover up, builders are constantly wandering around and sections just aren’t even built. During our visit we also ascended the Nativity Facade, a place which was mostly constructed under Gaudí’s watchful eye. There was the option of the newly open Passion Facade as well but the online ticket only lets you book one -research suggest the Nativity was more impressive and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I will warn you exploring the tower involves a lift ride up and a narrow, windy journey down by stairs. It wouldn’t be for the faint hearted.
A ticket to La Sagrada Família is best booked online before visiting this way you can choose an entry time to the church and the tower. I would recommend booking this for 9am (opening time) to avoid the queues and hoards of people. We explored the tower with only a few other people and experienced no queue however by 10am the queue had began to loop around the locker room (for storing backpacks as these cannot be taken up the towers). The church also filled up quickly from the minute the doors opened, by the time we had finished the tower there were people every where. I was so pleased we came early.
Entry costs for the church and tower is €19.50 although if you don’t fancy a trip up the tower entry is only €15. There are also options for a guided tour or audio headset, I’ve heard these were good but I felt I could find out enough through reading the Lonely Planet guide book. Allow about two hours to explore the church and tower.
Address: Carrer de Mallorca, 401
Park Güell is located north of the city and requires a metro ride to get there (unless you fancy a long walk). It’s a short 15 minutes from the station but if you follow the tourist signs you will have to climb a lot of stairs – luckily they have escalators to help but for accessible access I’ve read there is another way. It is here Gaudí turned his hand to landscape gardening when Eusebi Güell commissioned Gaudí to help with the decorating of his land. The project started in 1900 but by 1914 had become a commercial flop and was abandoned. Since 1922 this park has been owned by the city and except for the Monumental Zone has remained a free place for the public.
Many of you will already know what Park Güell looks like before your visit due to it being plastered all over guide books for the city. Despite this nothing can prepare you for how amazing this place is in person. The work by Gaudí is all about the small details and symbolism of each one, Park Güell is no different and it is worth taking the time to read all of the signs as you walk around. There are several parts to the Monumental Zone but my favourite was the top ‘garden’ area. It is here you will find those postcard views of Park Güell and Barcelona as well as the colourful tiled bench around its perimeter. This work was create by Gaudí’s colleague Josep Maria Jujol.
The park Monumental Zone, much like Sagrada Família is best visited at opening time (we didn’t arrive till 9.30am and it was already busy). They also have a limit of visitors at any one time, so expect to queue if you don’t arrive early or book ahead. You can book a ticket for Park Güell online for €7 and reserve an entry time for your visit. A side from the Monumental Zone Park Güell is home to the house where Gaudí lived for his latter years of life. It is now a museum which can be visited with a ticket either purchased there or online. The park has more architectural structures throughout and some of the best views over Barcelona so be sure to visit more than the Monumental Zone. We spent over two hours exploring Park Güell.
During our trip to Barcelona we only visited the above two, as ticket for the sights below were all around €20 and visiting everything would have added up to around €87. Spending this much on Gaudí attractions alone was a bit out of our budget but oh how I wish it hadn’t of been.
Main entrance on: Carretera del Carme
Or the house of bones as I like to call it – but don’t actually know if that is the right name. Casa Batlló is hard to pronounce, okay?! This is one of Gaudí’s works located near to La Rambla and looks good even from the outside. As with most buildings by Gaudí you need to arrive early for this one to avoid the queue which is often at least an hour long during the week. Tickets can be booked online for €21.50 and you want to book a queue jump ticket for this place, it is an extra €5. I enjoyed just viewing the outside however, from looking at pictures the inside looks amazing too.
Address: Passeig de Gràcia, 43
This building is slightly further north than Casa Batlló and one I didn’t even set eyes on. It was designed as a combined apartment and office blocks but is known for its uneven grey stone facade which is seen from the outside. You can visit La Pedrera for a day or night visit and like Sagrada Família, tickets can be purchased online with a selected time slot for €20.50.
Address: Provença, 261 – 265
This building is located just of La Rambla and is only of the early works of Gaudí. It has a strong dark and gothic feel, even from the outside it looks very different to any of Gaudí’s other work. It was reopened in May 2012 after several years of refurbishment. Tickets can be purchased online for €12 which secures and entry time for your visit.
Address: C/ Nou de la Rambla, 3-5