The eccentric Catalan: Gaudi in Barcelona
A trip to Barcelona, the Catalonian capital, is not complete without experiencing the architectural wonders by Antoni Gaudí … the eccentric Catalan. His unique approach to the Art Nouveau movement generated some of the most creative buildings in Barcelona. Even if you know nothing about Gaudí, after glancing at one of his buildings, you will be able to identify others easily. His works are not mere structures to live in. Every inch of construction tells a story.
If you use only your eyes to see the building, you will not fully appreciate his masterpieces. You’ll need your sense of touch to realize that marble, copper, stone, iron, oak and ceramics are more than just coincidental or convenient materials for construction. Your sense of balance is tested at some locations that have optical illusions and spatial effects. If you have no desire to wait in a queue to gaze upon a woman with a curious smile on a standard sheet of bond paper, then Gaudí’s work is for you.
La Sagrada Família
La Sagrada Família is the most famous of Gaudí’s structures. Under construction since 1892, it will not be finished until 2030. When Gaudí developed the bold building plans, others exclaimed it would take 100 years to build the church to which he is said to have replied, “My client is not in a hurry.” Once completed, it will be the largest religious structure in the world (depending on how you measure “largest”). It is an extravagant work in progress, a fever dream of spires that appear to be melting and vivid stained glass, ornate facades and ornamental arches.
There is something unique and special about being inside this structure that is still in progress. Observing the unfinished sculptures allows visitors to use their imaginations. Don’t be shocked if you meet others who have been coming back annually to view the church’s evolution. The audio tour is informative, and climbing one of its towers will give you an amazing view of Barcelona. Going with a tour will allow you to skip the long queue.
Casa Batlló looks like it has been made from skulls and bones, the "skulls" are balconies and "bones" are supporting pillars. The shapes and colors represent the natural forms of marine life. The scaly top of the building looks amphibian or reptilian. Peering in from the street, the occupants appear to be floating in an aquarium. If you opt for the inside tour, your senses will be overloaded with the attention to detail given to this structure. Everything from the floor to the ceiling plays into the story of this building.
Varying window size and glass materials fill the house with natural light. The curving stair railings mimic the spine of a prehistoric beast. The textures and colors of the walls resemble organic material, rather than ordinary stucco. Meandering your way up the inner staircase to the roof reveals that not even this space was neglected. On your way down from the roof, a short CGI movie reveals the true identity of the building, entertaining and enlightening at the same time. The interior tour costs a hefty 23 euros but includes an audio tour that details each room in the residence.
You can enter Park Güell free of charge. There are amazing stone structures integrated into the natural surroundings, as if Gaudí controlled the elements and earth to create such a magical place. Not only do grand structures exist, but you’ll discover fine details everywhere, such as tiny insects carved into massive stone structures.
The Monumental Area within the park has a 10-euro entrance fee. This is the grand prize of the park: a ceramic wall, pillar park, sculptures and two houses designed by Gaudí. Purchase tickets online for a specific time to bypass the long lines.