I've always wanted to go to Barcelona. My grandparents lived in Madrid for 2 years about 8 years ago, so my family went to visit them while they lived there... but I was so sad we didn't make it to the south of Spain. Since my husband and I wanted to do a side trip while in Paris (since we know we wont be going back to Europe for a long time) I decided now would be the perfect time to take the quick flight down to Barcelona. And oh man, I really loved it.
I got to experience how diverse this city is, and experience how it has such a great mix of historical buildings with newer, modern buildings thrown right in. It had a very contemporary, upbeat feel to the city and I was sad to leave this city when the time came.
I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about Antoni Gaudi, a native of Spain who's beautiful architectural projects are scattered all over Barcelona.
He moved south to Barcelona to study teaching and architecture. As time went on, he started producing some amazing work around the area, and although dabbed in some different architectural styles, he's most passionate and well known for his more organic "modernista" style of design and architecture. He took his inspiration from nature, which you can definitely see with his free-flowing design of his furniture and buildings; I don't think he was one for straight lines. Between lamp posts, iron gates, furniture or buildings... everything he's designed clearly has the Gaudi look to them.
Here are some of Gaudi's masterpieces I was able to visit while in Barcelona-
Barcelona's most visited site, the La Sagrada Familia is an amazing site to see. Building was started in 1882, and after the original architect stepped down from the project, Gaudi stepped in a year later to transform it into the Gothic/ Art Nouveau form we see today. Work was very slow on this basilica because it was based on private donations, and because of a long break for the Spanish civil war. Gaudi devoted his life to this project, and died when the Sagrada Familia was only about 20% complete, and is still a very active construction site today. Isn't that interesting? It already looks amazing, and if there were no construction equipment (huge cranes were digitally removed from the image below) no one would think it looked incomplete. But it only hit its halfway completion mark two years ago in 2010, and they plan to finish it in 2026 to celebrate the 100 years since Gaudi's death. This is definitely considered Antoni Gaudi's masterpiece.
Next up, another one of Antoni Gaudi's very famous buildings: Casa Mila (also known as La Pedrera). This was just about 2 blocks from my hotel and the first thing we went to go see. It was completed in 1912 to serve as office space and apartment living. Today, you can walk around the roof top, tour the attic area, and see a large apartment that was designed. This building, just like the La Sagrada Familia is a UNESCO World Heritage site. And as you can see from the image below, Gaudi doesn't like straight lines.
Just a couple blocks down from Casa Mila, we have Gaudi's remodeled Casa Batllo also in the Eixample district of Barcelona (a lot of amazing buildings in this area...like the Casa Amatller shown to the left). I don't know as much information about this building because we didn't go inside (although its totally understandable, its unfortunate that everything costs a good amount of money to go into... so we had to pick and choose what we paid for), but the outside is amazing both during the day and in the evening. I first saw this building late at night as we walked from the subway to find our hotel after arriving at the airport. It is quite a site to see and definitely stands out because of the mosaic tiles on the exterior of the building.
Lastly, I thought I'd show Park Guell which was designed by Gaudi. It was commissioned to be a private park for residents in the community, but when funding fell through, it was donated to the city and is now a public park.