Barcelona has been a well-known destination for travellers who wish to have a bit of the sea, sun, fun, and some culture in an urban city. Nestled within the expansive Catalonian landscape, you'll definitely come across several unusual and creative buildings designed by the great architect, Antoni Gaudi. Well, Gaudi's work isn't just confined to the Sagrada Familia, and we'll point you to the others in the sprawling city.
Antoni Gaudi's Life
I was pretty fascinated to learn more about Gaudi after having seen the countless spectacular buildings in Barcelona. Every nook and corner, whenever I see an interesting looking building, I'll ask myself if it is Gaudi's work.
All of Gaudi's work were influenced by his passions in life: nature, religion, and definitely architecture. He thought through every single detail of his creations and integrated different materials into his work. That includes stained glass, wrought ironwork and ceramics. That is why each grille and facade is so unique. He also introduced new techniques like trencadis which makes use of unwanted ceramic pieces. This made up a mosaic tile like design in his works. Interestingly, Gaudi hardly drew out his plans like most other architectures. Instead, he crafts three-dimensional models which enabled him to continue shaping and moulding the details. Even after his death, his architecture lives to tell his dedication to his craft. Seven of his works are listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Sadly, Gaudi died a lonely death. As he took on the role of building Sagrada Familia, he became so engrossed in his work such that he lived like a recluse. He didn't shave nor took care of his appearances. One day, he was involved in a tragic accident where everyone thought that he was a beggar and paid no attention to him. They didn't even bother to call for help or send him to the hospital. Just like that, God's architect left the world without completing his greatest work.
1. Sagrada Familia
And that is the majestic Sagrada Familia...
So we'll definitely have to cover Sagrada Familia first. This amazing architecture is still in the midst of construction and you'll be happy to know that it is in its final stage of construction! And if you're interested in its progress, we were fortunate to have visited in 2012 and the photos are below so that you can compare!
Amazing isn't it? You can see the tower built up in six years. The completed Sagrada should have a total of 18 towers: 12 to represent the apostles, 4 to represent the evangelists, 1 designated for Virgin Mary and the highest one in the centre represents Jesus Christ. There are currently only 8 towers built up! Slowly but surely... After all, it has been over a century and it has been said to complete in 2026.
Now, the basilica is also slapped with a hefty fine (36 million euros) for having done its construction "illegally". Oh wells, and if you're wondering how will Sagrada Familia ever complete building it and complete paying the fine, your entrance tickets must be how it funds its construction.
Queues into the famous Sagrada Familia are often snaking. You queue to get tickets, queue to enter, queue to take the elevator...
Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain
Opening hours: Check online
Nearest metro: Sagrada Familia
2. Parc Guell
Parc Guell is an extensive garden complex that was built between 1900 and 1914. Besides the front area where you'll find the "kimodo dragon" where everyone seems to want to take photos with, look closely at the iron grilles and the trencadis surfaces that is characteristic of Gaudi's work.
The park is open to all except for the monumental area (where most of his iconic works are) where you'll have to pay an admission fee. This didn't used to be the case 6 years ago. But because restoration works need to be done, the management had to control the number of people within the area and probably to fund these?
It is so sad because it wasn't THAT crowded previously. Right now, even during the start of winter, the park is simply too crowded. To get in, you'll have to get tickets at a certain time slot. Even after you get those tickets, you'll still have to stand in line before your time slot to get in...
And, it is just so difficult to take photos while avoiding the throng of tourists. But, if you are in Barcelona already and have yet to see Parc Guell. Head there early to avoid the crowd, and definitely definitely get guided tour tickets beforehand as they have a separate entrance. Although this still doesn't solve the fact that you are with a group of tourists, but better than nothing right?
How to get to Parc Guell?
Unlike the other attractions, Parc Guell is slightly harder to get to. When we visited previously in the summer, we actually tried cycling up. Bad idea, the slopes were so steep... Even the closest metro (Lesseps or Vallcarca) requires quite a bit of uphill walking. From Plaza Catalunya, we took bus 24 that will bring you all the way to the quieter back entrance. You can get the 48, 72, or 96 hour Hola Barcelona Travel Card so that you'll don't have to fumble for change when you board the bus.
For first-timers who don't wish to figure your way around the many different metro stations, trams, and buses, you can also get the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tickets. This doesn't just bring you to Parc Guell, but it also goes to all the major sites in Barcelona.
Alternatively, there's always the taxi!
08024 Barcelona, Spain
The park is opened 24/7 but the monumental core opens from 8.30am to 6.15pm / later in summer months. You can check the exact dates and opening hours online.
3. Casa Mila La Pedrera
Besides public spaces and churches, Gaudi also designed residential houses. One of which is Casa Mila. The facade of the building doesn't look like a building at all. Instead, it seems like the ripples of waves and beach inspired him. It looks more like a sculpture too.
Besides the exterior, the interior too is tastefully made. You really will get to understand and marvel at his work when you see his attention to details. Casa Mila also has a rooftop area that is included in your ticket (closed on rainy days). There, you can hide behind the various sculptures and take instagram-worthy shots.
What time to visit Casa Mila La Pedrera?
The best time to head to Casa Mila would be close to sunset, so 4-5pm in winter months, and about 6pm in summer (please check the sunset timings on your visit!). Why is it the best time to go then? During that time, you can get to experience Casa Mila both in the sunlight and go up to the rooftop to see it during sunset.
But if you have more moolahs, get the tickets for day and night tickets to Casa Mila!
How to get tickets to Casa Mila La Pedrera?
Like all of Gaudi's masterpieces, Casa Mila La Pedrera's queues can be quite insane (except when the weather's threatening like what you see in the picture!). You can get it at the door, but, really?
So your best bet would be to purchase the skip-the-line tickets online!
Casa Mila La Pedrera
Passeig de Gràcia, 92, 08008 Barcelona
Opening hours: 9.00 am to 8.30 pm (Summer), 9.00 am to 6.30 pm (Winter)
Nearest Metro: Diagonal
4. Casa Batllo
Located on the same street, you'll also find Casa Batllo, another of Gaudi's residential works. Casa Batllo is a restoration project whereby the student (Gaudi) outdid the teacher (Emilio Sala Cortes). Even though on the outside, it doesn't look as outstanding as La Pedrera, don't be fooled because its interior looks absolutely stunning, especially the balcony area where it allows lots of natural light in.
What time to visit Casa Batllo?
Since you're visiting Batllo mainly for the interior, there isn't that much of a good time to visit. A better time would be when it first opens as there will be slightly smaller crowds. But I just had to show the photo of the line to get in!
How to get tickets to Casa Batllo?
Get your skip-the-line tickets online before you head over to avoid standing in line!
Passeig de Gràcia, 43, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
Opening Hours: 9.00 am to 9.00 pm
Nearest Metro: Passeig De Garcia
5. Palau Guell
This is one building that many tourists would miss! Palau Guell is the palace residence of the Guell family. Even though the exterior doesn't look anything extraordinary and not like those designed by Gaudi, many of the marvellous work takes place inside and on the roof!
We really love exploring Palau Guell without all the tourists. Many of the other attractions were packed with people and there wasn't space to take nice shots or even just admire his great work. The entrance tickets includes the audio guide and it was fun listening to the history of the building.
Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 3-5, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
Opening Hours: 10.00 am to 5.30 pm Daily (Closed on Mondays)
Nearest Metro: Liceu or Drassanes
So there you go, these are the top 5 must-see Gaudi architecture in Barcelona. There are, of course, more than just these 5. But for a first-timer to Barcelona, this would certainly wow you! If you would like better understanding of Gaudi's work, you can also purchase a guided tour where you'll visit Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, and walk down Passeig de Gracia.
Which one of these is your favourite? Share them with us in the comments below!