gaudí

The Modernist movement had an ideology that was not limited to aesthetic renewal: it was the expression of a desire for the modernisation and cultural resurgence of Catalonia, fed by the dynamism of its capital, Barcelona. This was why Modernism went beyond architecture.

From the 1860s, the construction of the Eixample gave Barcelona’s architects many professional openings which allowed for a new wave of expression and experimentation like never seen before. One of the most creative figures of this era was Antoni Gaudí.

Even if you don’t know anything about architecture or Gaudí, when you walk the streets of Barcelona you will intuitively be able to identify a Gaudí building, they are unmistakable!

 

That’s why we have listed our 6 favourite masterpieces from Gaudí which can be seen around Barcelona

Number 1 – Casa Vicens

Let’s start from the beginning, ‘Casa Vicens’, Gaudí’s first important commission. Built between 1883 and 1888, Casa Vicens is an imaginative residential project made for a wealthy family that owned a ceramic factory. We can see how Gaudí’s fascination with nature was incorporated into his architecture, this is clearly reflected in the “trencadis” façade that contains a significant variety of ceramic floral decorations. Ceramic tiles from the families factory are used throughout the building. You can also see many Islamic architectural influences in its façade.

Casa Vicens

Number 2 – Casa Milà

Casa Milà, popularly known as La Pedrera or “The stone quarry” is one of Gaudí’s main residential buildings and one of the most imaginative creations in the history of architecture. It was the last private residence designed by Gaudí and was built between 1906 and 1912. The façade is a varied and harmonious mass of undulating stone that, along with its forged iron balconies, explore the irregularities of the natural world. UNESCO recognized this building as World Heritage in 1984.

Number 3 – Casa Batlló

Casa Batlló is the result of a total restoration in 1904 of an old conventional residence built in 1877.  Here we can see how Gaudí used typical constructive elements of the Modernisme (Catalan Art Nouveau) including ceramics, stone, and forged iron. The ground floor, in particular, has unusual tracery, irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stone work. There are few straight lines, and much of the façade is decorated with a colorful mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles (trencadís). The roof is arched and was likened to the back of a dragon. A common theory about the building is that the rounded feature to the left of centre, terminating at the top in a turret and cross, represents the lance of Saint George (the patron saint of Catalonia), which has been plunged into the back of the dragon. Even though it was highly criticized by the city during construction due to its radical design that broke all the bylaws of the city, in 1906 the Barcelona City Council awarded it the recognition of being one of the three best buildings of the year.

Casa Batllo

Number 4 –  Casa Calvet

Casa Calvet was built between 1898 and 1900 for the for the textile manufacturer Pere Màrtir Calvet, who set up his business premises on the ground floor and in the basement, and used the upper floors as his private residence. This is one of Antoni Gaudí’s earliest buildings and is considered one of his most conventional works. However it also contains markedly modernist elements, such as the façade which terminates in a curve, and the attic balconies, which look like something from a fairy tale. The roof is topped with two pediments, each supporting a wrought iron cross. They are surrounded by various pieces of stone ornamentation and crowned with statues of San Genis and Saint Peter – Calvets saints.

Number 5 – Cascada Fountain at Parc de la Ciutadella

The Cascada was designed by Josep Fontseré in 1881, specifically for the universal exhibition in 1888, with young Gaudí as an assistant. The inspiration for the Cascada was the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy. It is located in Barcelona’s most famous park – Parc de la Ciutadella.

Ciutadella park in Barcelona

Number 6 – La Sagrada Familia

This is unarguably the most famous of Gaudí’s works. From 1912 until his death in 1926, Gaudí abandoned all his other work and focused only on the Sagrada Familia construction, a project he had been working on for 30 years. In the temple he set his proper studio to live in, in one of the most humble neighbourhoods, immersing himself completely in his work and an ascetic life. Thus, this profoundly Catholic man who began his career as the architect of the town and working for the bourgeoisie, ended up becoming what some define as “the architect of God”.

This church has been in construction since 1892, and it’s not expected to be finished until 2030.  The church presents an excellent depiction of the relationship between man, nature, and religion through its architecture and façade sculptures.

Sagrada Familia

Gaudí’s Death

Gaudí’s death was a true tragedy. In 1926, while walking to daily confession, Gaudí was struck by a tram. Due to his ragged clothes and lack of identification he was mistaken for a beggar and received limited medical attention. Three days later the amazing architect passed away amid much mourning in his beloved Barcelona. No other city’s landscape has been shaped in such a magical way as Gaudí shaped Barcelona. His remains lie in rest in the Sagrada Familia, his wonderful masterpiece that continues to be built to his design today.

We love Barcelona. We love Catalonia. We want you to fall in love with it too.

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