La Sagrad Familia. Casa Batllo. Park Guell. Palace Guell. Casa Mila. What do they have in common? Their architect was Antoni Gaudi. Then there is La Rambla, the Gothic Quarter, the Palau de Musica, the unique city architecture. Una problema for us: Barcelona has the characteristic of too-muchness. Therefore, Part 1 will deal with Gaudi’s fabulosities, and Part 2 will be the rest of the story. But that isn’t to say we have seen it all! By no means. Even though we have been here 4-5 times, there are still many sights unseen. We do what we can, but will have to come back for an extended stay to see the other places on our list, as this is one of our favorite cities in the world. It is very walkable, very livable, with great architecture, and tree-lined streets everywhere.
So, undoubtedly the most famous icon in Barcelona is La Catedral De La Sagrada Familia…Holy Family Cathedral. Construction began in 1882, 137 years ago, and is tentatively scheduled for completion in 2026. We spied workers on the top spires, and we had heard stories of people whose families have spent their lives, generation after generation, laboring on La Sagrada Familia. It is stunning. It is quite startling to turn a corner and suddenly see this massive…presence…in front of you. It is not symmetrical, and it is very whimsical. I don’t recall ever seeing statues, baskets of fruit, trees with doves, vari-colored ceramic caps on spires, words and phrases (repetitions of Sanctus, an arch with “Jesus, King of the Jews” in Latin), shrines, and all sorts of other decorative elements. It feels very futuristic, although conceived in the 19th century! All of Gaudi’s work feels ahead of its time.
After the cathedral comes Casa Batllo, designed by Gaudi in 1904. As you can see, the facade is wild…wavy and colorful. The interior uses lots of ceramics, lots of colored glass, lots of textured and glass walls. The roof chimneys are fun! They are meant to look like art pieces, not something functional, although they are, which in turn makes them feel very modern. Following Casa Batllo are three photos of Parc Guell, It is a public park and was built from 1900 to 1914. It is not like any park we have ever seen!
Also named after the industrial tycoon, Eusebi Guell, next up is Palau Guell, the Guell Palace. It was built between 1886 and 1888, and is situated on a narrow street. You can see the cavernous inner atrium in the first photo, looking up to the starry ceiling, followed by Gaudi’s signature artwork chimneys on the roof.
Last up is Casa Mila, built between 1906 and 1912. It has a wavy stone facade and wrought iron balconies, and was constructed to be an apartment building. We asked if there were still residents, and were told, “yes, one woman lives here.” Outside of the tourist areas, the rest is office space. There are two photos looking up to the sky from the lower courtyard, and then a shot of one of the beautiful lobbies leading into the courtyard.
The rooftop is spectacular, expansive, and as you can see, very very busy. There are warrior chimneys (28 of them!), vents, domes, and water tanks. It is amazing that Gaudi paid so much attention to these mundane service elements. After the rooftop is the attic, with its glorious arches that invite you to come in and look around for a while. Finishing today’s Gaudi gems is a bedroom in Casa Mila, complete with a gorgeous original bed and a glimpse out the window, onto the balcony with its wrought iron railing, ands views all the way to the Mediterranean.