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Art and culture

Tracing Gaudi in Barcelona

 

Track down Gaudi’s greatest hits in the city he called home – Barcelona. Read now if you’re heading here on a cultural break.

Heard of Antoni Gaudí? Even if the name of this famous architect doesn’t ring a bell, you may recognise his distinct creative pizzazz sprinkled throughout Spain. As a pioneer of the Catalan Modernism movement, Gaudí formed a signature approach to architecture that is truly unique.

The lion’s share of his work can be found in Barcelona. Much of it is UNESCO-listed and forms the fabric of life here, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with gothic townhouses and sleek apartment blocks.

Keen to tick off Gaudí’s best treasures? Here’s an itinerary for a walking tour of the city so you can do just that.

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Cascada Monumental

Begin tracing Gaudí at Parc de la Ciutadella, a green oasis in the north-east of the city. It’s here you’ll find the Cascade Monumental. This stunning waterfall was created by Josep Fontserè, with a young Gaudí supporting him during his student days.

Dramatic stone carvings, lush greenery and rugged rocks come together in thundering fashion – you may hear it before you see it! Stop by and marvel at its grandeur.

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La Sagrada Família

Venture along Carrer de Sardenya to this beloved basilica to admire its amazing size and structure. This iconic church isn’t even finished yet but it has already earned legendary status. Although work began in 1866 on La Sagrada Família, it was only in 1882 when Gaudí was in his early thirties that he took the reins of this project. It’s expected to be completed in 2026.

An architectural masterpiece, the Nativity Façade is nothing short of jaw-dropping, while the four bell towers are embellished with pretty mosaics. Inside, crane your neck and gaze at the twisting pillars soaring up to the heavens, devised to mimic a forest of trees.

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Casa Batlló

Next up, Casa Batlló along Passeig de Gràcia. Originally built in the mid-19th century by one of Gaudí’s professors, this townhouse was reformed by the artist in 1906, commissioned by Mr Josep Batlló to allow his imagination to run wild. And that it did.

The marine-inspired façade, crafted from stone, glass and ceramics, gleams in the sunshine and mask-esque balconies gently jut out. And the interior is sprinkled with the same amount of Gaudí magic. Tiles in a spectrum of blue hues embellish light wells, while doorways, pillars and windows have a gorgeous wavy effect to them. Make your way to the roof where you’ll find soaring chimney pots, plus amazing views of the city.

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Casa Milà

Just 500m away, you’ll be able to track down Casa Milà. Nicknamed ‘The Stone Quarry’ due to its rugged appearance, this townhouse was commissioned one year before Casa Batlló. More than 6,000 blocks of stone comprise the grey façade, flecked by 32 wrought iron balconies.

Decorative ceilings, tapestries and two airy courtyards bring the interior to life but it’s the roof where you’ll find Gaudí’s true genius. Enormous chimney pots act like individual art installations, similar to heads of knights.

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Casa Vicens

The penultimate stop on the route is Casa Vicens. A private residence created during the 1880s, this was the first of Gaudí’s masterpieces. And one look at the angular exterior and you’ll spot his colourful stamp straight away.

Ceramic tiles in a rainbow of bright hues make Casa Vicens pop brightly against its neighbours. Note the Eastern and Moorish styles woven into the look and feel.

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Park Güell

Last but certainly not least is Park Güell. This leafy plot expands across Carmel Hill and showcases Gaudí’s first stab at landscape gardening. Natural forms inspired the architect throughout his career and it’s truly apparent here. Created at the turn of the 20th century, this tranquil oasis of green is peppered with mosaic features.

Make your way up the Dragon Stairway, spotting decorative dragons and goblins, and seek out the unusual Laundry Room Portico. At the heart of Park Güell is Plaça de la Natura, an ample square with sweeping views across the city. The mosaic-clad bench curving around the expansive space is the perfect place to perch and drink in the vistas.

Posted: 31st Jul 2019.

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