The Must-See Gaudi Architecture in Barcelona (Part I), Spain
We didn’t have any impressions about Barcelona when we decided to visit the city as part of our world tour. Previous to arrival, we read about how the Sagrada Familia was a must visit in Barcelona but still did not think much of it until the night we arrived. Our hotel was situated just 2 blocks away from the Sagrada Familia. In order to get there, we took the subway that had an exit right next to it. Seeing the Sagrada Familia for the first time is something that will remain in my memory for a long time. The sheer size of the building and tower with such a striking and bold design really took me by surprise as I rolled my luggage on the sidewalk past the basilica’s glowing lights.
This was my view right after I emerged from the subway station. It was a great first impression of the city of Barcelona and what other sights to expect.
After checking into our hotel, I hopped online to do a little more research about the Sagrada Familia and its architecture. The most amazing fact about the place is that construction on the Sagrada Familia started back in 1882 and until today and they still are not finished. The reason why it’s taking so long is because funds on construction are fully funded by private donations and ticket sales. Moreover, the Spanish Civil war set back construction times.
What’s even more fasinating is the Catalan architect behind the Sagrada Familia: Antoni Gaudi . He is responsible for 19 wonderfully designed buildings in and around Barcelona that have such bold and creative design. Out of the 19 buildings, 8 of them are designated as UNESCO World Heritage sights. The style he used on his buildings were considered a mix of neo-gothic design with oriental technique. Scholars have named this the modernista style.
With so many Gaudi attractions around the city and not that much time, we opted to visit Park Güell and Sagrada Familia. We decided to visit Park Güell early in the morning and saved the Sagrada Familia for the afternoon to avoid the morning crowds.
Park Güell and Sagrada Familia: Pre-purchase your tickets online and you will be able to select your time of visit allowing you to bypass the line and walk straight in.Two Peas Travel Tip
After securing our tickets online, Tiff and I wandered down the Passeig de Gracia and noticed a huge crowd outside a particular building. As we approached the building, it was very obvious it was a building of Gaudi’s as his style is so distinct. It turns out it was Casa Batlló, which was commissioned by the Batlló family to be built as their home. It was a great teaser for what was to come for us at Park Güell and Sagrada Familia!
We took the subway to El Coll station and it was about a 20 minute walk downhill from the station. Our stroll provided some amazing views of the city.
We reached the backside entrance of the park at the Placa de la Natura.
A little back story about Park Güell, it was actually initially conceived as a housing development park more of a gated community for the wealthy and powerful. Funded by industrial entreprenuer Eusebi Güell, he hired Gaudi to design the park and the homes which surround it. The idea ended up being a failure as only two homes were built and buyers were not interested.
In addition, Gaudi had been re-assigned to work on the Sagrada Familia so towards the second half of his life he dedicated it mainly to the church. Since then, the park has been converted to a municipal garden where tourists and visitors can come visit the splendor of Gaudi’s design.
Gaudi’s design of the park has some really cool ergonomic features such as this long wavy park benched that snaked around the outside of the Placa de la Natura. Finished in brightly colored mosaic tiles, Gaudi designed it specially to recline an a comfortable position for the park visitor to sit back and take in the sights.
I had a seat on the bench and felt comfortable immediately. I could have sat there all day but we had to see the rest of the park.
We continued down the steps on the west end of the Placa and were met with columns slanted like a wave. The design was to provide a better support from the hillside, and created some great photo opportunities. A common theme, and what makes Gaudi’s work so incredible, is that he manages to integrate very structurally sturdy architecture that is also artistically beautiful.
We continued down the twisted path in accordance with the slanted columns.
Then walked down the snakelike walkways to the main entrance of the park. In hindsight, I think it would have been better to start our visit at the main entrance because it provided some epic views of the overall park.
The grand staircase at the front of the park is a sight to behold as you can see the many levels that Gaudi has created. Everything is colorfully decorated in mosiac tiles.
Large columns support the roof of the lower court which also forms the central terrace.
The center of the grand staircase entrance has a statue of Park Güell’s most famous mascot, the blue tiled gecko.
The outskirts of the park also include many of Gaudi’s work. You can visit them for free without actually have to pay to go inside Monumental Park. We recommend that you visit the park, but forgo the Gaudi Museum as we’ve heard there’s not much inside.
Gaudi loved to model his designs after nature. You can see the columns behind me were created to look like trunks/branches.
The view from different angles across the park was amazing as you can be looking at something straight on and it will look totally different from the side.
Here you can see Tiff enjoying a nice rest at a chair created from the earth which also doubles as a supporting column that supports the terrace above.
Another sitting area that looks so integrated with nature and the formation of the rocks.
Allow yourself plenty of time to explore Park Güell as there’s a lot of ground to cover and so many photo opportunities. You could easily spend a couple of hours here!
Next stop, La Sagrada Familia!