Barcelona’s buildings by Antoni Gaudi (1852–1926) are so incredible that I had to give them their own post. Gaudi was an important figure in Catalonia’s Moderisme architectural movement. His works are colorful and curvy, based on shapes and figures from nature as well as on symbols drawn from Catalan history, mythology, and religion. Seven of the structures are on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.
The first buildings we visited, Casa Batlló and Casa Milà, were originally built as private residences. Entrance fees are rather high at these popular tourist sites; as a party of seven we had to be choosy and we chose not to take the tour. I think if I go back to Barcelona again I’ll want to see the interiors. But even the outsides are spectacular.
In 1900, Gaudi’s industrialist friend Eusebi Güell hired him to design a residential park. The development was a financial failure. Aside from the community areas and a guard’s house only two houses were completed. But the grounds eventually became the lovely Parc Güell.
But the piece de resistance on our Gaudi tour was La Sagrada Familia. We could see this amazing church from the window of our apartment but didn’t get inside until our last day in the city, when we were finally able to obtain tickets (it’s VERY popular).
Construction of La Sagrada Familia started in 1882. Gaudi was totally devoted to the project; he even slept on site. In 1926, Gaudi was hit by a streetcar. Because he dressed like a beggar and carried no identification, he didn’t receive much in the way of medical treatment and died three days later.
The cathedral was only partially built and even the planning was unfinished. Other architects took on the project, but lack of funding made progress slow. Many of Gaudi’s models and sculptures were destroyed in the Spanish civil war but there were drawings that survived and construction continued. Now there is a big push to finally complete the cathedral in 2026. Watch this video to see what it’s going to look like.