Did you know that 7 out of 9 UNESCO World Heritage sites here in Barcelona belong to Antonio Gaudi? Four of them we’ll mention in this post, while the other three, the Guell Crypt which you can find after a short 30 minuted drive, the Palau Guell located near the famous street La Rambla, and the Casa Vincent in the Gracia neighborhood. The other two UNESCO sites belong two other famous architects; Domenech and Muntaner and Puig i Cadafalch. Their works, Palau de la Musics, and Hospital of Saint Pau and Saint Cross are magnificent and I can’t wait to talk about them in another blog post. On to Gaudi!
1. Sagrada Familia
For me its like a an amazing story written on the walls and sculpted into the facade. Its majesty can’t be understated and it’s impossible to behold without being moved.
I find it interesting that the initial plan was to recreate the House of the Holy Family. Joseph Maria Bocabella, the original developer of this cathedral, after visiting the Holy Family house in Italy (which was translated stone-by-stone from Nazareth) came with the idea of building one for the new Eixample neighborhood. To make a long story (which you can find it on my blog post about Sagrada Familia) short, Antonio Gaudi took the work.
The exterior has three facades, the first of which (a colossal endeavor that took 41 years to complete) celebrates the Nativity and the entire story behind it. Intricate sculpture work shows Jesus’s birth, the murdering of the innocents on King Herod’s order, to the Flight to Egypt on the donkey.
The Facade of the Passions made by the famous sculptor Joseph Maria Subirachs, you can admire scenes from the last supper, the crucifixion of Jesus, and the resurrection. Gaudi, the designer of the facade, had the intention of scaring the viewers, to inspire in the the pain and sorrow that Jesus went through on his last journey. The abstraction and angled features of the sculptor Subirachs succeed in transmitting the sadness and intense emotions of the Passion.
The Glory Facade, which to this day is still under construction, is dedicated to the entire process of the after life. Upon it’s completion it will be the main facade and largest. The architects continue to follow Gaudi’s plan, which he made certain would be followed long after his death.
2. Casa Batllo
For an in depth post on Casa Batlló check out my post dedicated to it: http://livelifebcn.com/2016/04/24/casa-batllo/
My previous focused on the amazing work that is the building’s exterior but taking visit inside is well worth your time. I find it unique especially when the sunlight reflects on the intricate trencadis tile-work from the interior, creating an almost underwater atmosphere.
If you are lucky enough, to visit on a Summer evening you can attend a concert taking place on the terrace, during the Magic Nights at Casa Batllo concert series.
3. La Pedrera
Combining the majesty of the exterior with incredible practicality. La Pedrera was the last civil work completed by Antonio Gaudi before dedicating his entire attention, energy and the rest of his life to the Sagrada Familia Cathedral.
We could say that Casa Mila shows Gaudi at the peak of his architectural maturity. From the entrance where you can see the majesty of the gate, to the interior patio carriage yard, to the top floor which was built to create a room with ventilation beneficial for the building itself as well as very practical for the house choirs.
4. Park Guell
Another living proof of the architectural ingenuity of Gaudi. Eusebio Guell i Bacigalupi was an wealthy count and patron of Gaudi. His financial backing allowed Gaudi to reach his creative peak and express his wildest ideas. The park was designed as a residential area with the initial plan was to build around 60 houses, all perfectly integrated in to an urbanist plan. Unfortunately, Mr. Guell only managed to see to the construction of two (one to Gaudi himself and another to a friend). With this plan in mind you can concentrate on the vision of the space as a public place for the residents, as well as the perfect design for the market place.
The pavilions at the entrance might remind you of the gingerbread house from the tale of Hansen and Gretel. It looks like that’s what Gaudi had in mind, as when he designed them the famous play was quite popular.
Interestingly enough Gaudi actually had one of his worker sit naked on the beach overlooking the city, so he could create the perfect form for the curved bench 😉
5. Casa Calvet
Located on the Calle de Casp number 48, the house was constructed between 1898 and 1899. It’s suited for the modernist style in Barcelona, but it has the particular touches of Gaudi. Generally, the aristocracy in those days, contracted famous architects like Gaudi, to build them a building, then normally on the ground floor they would have stores, shops, restaurants. On one of the first floors would always be the residence of the owners, while on the other floors they would arrange apartments to rent.
As a special bonus one can still see furniture designed by Gaudi himself in the interior. Nowadays you can still can find a restaurant on the ground floor of Casa Calvet, where you can dine on some fine Catalan cuisine.