This article on Gaudi Barcelona and all his best sites was last updated in June 2020.
Ask anyone about Barcelona and chances are they will name one of the Gaudi Barcelona sights. So well known have Gaudi’s landmarks become that they are synonymous with the city.
But did you know that Gaudi also designed buildings in other parts of Spain? Or that not all of Gaudi’s works are in the city center?
While most visitors are familiar with Gaudi’s main sights, there are a few other gems most visitors miss.
In this article, we will focus primarily on Antoni Gaudi’s Barcelona attractions, and in particular, the six works that are part of the UNESCO listing, but also on his lesser known masterpieces. If you want to visit over 200 more UNSECO sites see our guide to roadtripping across Europe.
About Gaudi’s architectural style and life
Before we get into Gaudi and Barcelona, it is worth understanding a little bit more about Gaudi the man.
Antoni Gaudi was born in Reus, a city about 1h drive south of Barcelona, and studied architecture in La Llotja School in Barcelona. He moved to the city at a very young age and his most prolific years were here, under the patronage of wealthy industrialists such as Eusebi Guell, his best client and patron.
Gaudi was a devout Catholic and lover of nature and both of these passions reflect in his works which often have religious elements and mimic plants, trees, animals and flowers.
The culmination of his faith was his involvement in the construction of La Sagrada Familia, his best-known work and one that will be finished in 2026, on the 100th anniversary of his death.
Apart from his religious inclinations and his love of nature, Gaudi was also a fervent Catalanist, surrounded by friends who were active members of the Catalan intellectual society despite never getting actively involved in politics.
Since the second half of the 19th century, Catalonia was undergoing a process of revival called La Renaixenca, which also influenced Gaudi’s style and that of his contemporaries.
Intellectuals in all areas wanted to bring back Catalonia’s brightest period, particularly the Medieval Gothic period when Catalonia was a vast empire, and the centuries that followed until the region lost its autonomy in 1714.
This political and social context explains why elements of the Gothic style are often incorporated into Modernist designs.
While Renaixenca and the Industrial Revolution swept Barcelona at the time, the arts gave birth to the Catalan version of the international Art Nouveau movement called Modernisme of which Gaudi was one of the three most renowned architects.
Although Gaudi was less involved in politics than his contemporaries, he did end up in prison in 1924 during a demonstration on Catalan National Day (11th September) against Dictator Primo de Ribera’s intentions to ban the Catalan language.
Beyond Modernisme, Gaudi created his own personal architectural style and, while his works are similar to those of other Modernist architects, his buildings are easily singled-out for their curved lines, the constant influence of nature and their intricate mosaics.
When visiting any of Gaudi’s works you will also be able to appreciate Catalan references from the neo-Gothic period, as well as from Oriental Neo-Mudejar styles, commonly found in the south of Spain and which made their way into Modernisme.
Gaudi spent a long time studying Oriental constructions, especially Granada’s La Alhambra, of Mudejar style, and some of its motifs made their way into his first constructions such as Casa Vicens.
Forged iron, so typical of Catalan medieval constructions, as well as stained glass, are also present in every building. Gaudi was the first to use the technique of “trencadis”, where pieces of broken ceramics that were scrap were recycled to create colorful mosaics.
Despite their similarities, each of Gaudi’s works is unique and one can appreciate an evolution in his style when visiting a few, especially since the recent renovation and opening of two of Gaudi Barcelona’s most unique buildings, Casa Vicens, his first private home, and Palau Guell.
Gaudi died in 1926 at the age of 73 when he was run over by a tram on Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, Barcelona’s main artery.
Many guides will tell you that when he died, he had no documentation on him and he had neglected his appearance so much towards the end of his life, that people assumed he was a beggar.
As a result, he was taken to the old Hospital de la Santa Creu in Raval which took care of the poor, where he later died.
Unclaimed, his body was taken for study in the hospital’s dissection room until his friends, unable to find him, came to the hospital looking for him and managed to salvage his body.
These were the last years of existence of the 500-year-old hospital housed in the 15th-century building, as it moved to the Modernist Hospital de la Santa Creu i de Sant Pau in 1928.
While this is a very romantic, if sad, ending to one of the city’s most famous geniuses, there are documents in the new Hospital de Sant Pau that confirm that Gaudi’s identity was indeed known at the time of his death and other claims are tales told by earnest guides.
Either way, when Gaudi died, Sagrada Familia was three decades in and was Gaudi’s sole project. Since 1915, he had entirely devoted himself to the “Cathedral of the poor”, as it was known, and financed its construction through donations, a tradition that has been maintained until today.
Gaudi was even living in the church’s crypt, where he had moved in 1915 after leaving his house in Park Guell. With the death of most of his friends and family in the late 1910s including Eusebi Guell himself, he decided to devote himself entirely to work and died without children.
Gaudi is considered such an important person in Barcelona’s 20th-century history that La Sagrada Familia, once completed, will be the tallest building in the city, mimicking his stature. It is also the most visited monument in Spain and the most visited place in Barcelona.
But Gaudi’s recognition is not just local. Six of his works were recognized by UNESCO sites between 1984 and 2005 for having universal value, along with two other Modernist buildings from Domenech i Muntaner.
Gaudi and two of his most prominent contemporary architects, Puig i Cadafalch and Domènech i Muntaner, are the representatives of the Catalan Art Nouveau movement called Modernisme.
This style is unique to Catalonia and pioneered Barcelona’s expansion into the new grid-like neighborhood of Eixample, defined by an urban plan that was approved in 1860 and which was penned by Ildefons Cerda.
Modernisme was the chosen architectural style of the wealthy. At that time, Spain was losing its last colonies (in 1898 Spain lost Cuba and the Philippines, its last two colonies) and the Americanos, Catalans who went to Cuba to set up successful businesses, returned back with their fortunes.
In parallel, the industrial revolution had spread across Catalonia and brought with it new riches to the Catalan bourgeoisie, and a will to show it off.
This wealth was channeled into palatial residences in the Eixample district and beyond, which were designed in the architectural style of the moment: Modernisme.
If you speak Catalan you will realise that the word Modernisme is a direct translation of Art Nouveau, meaning New or Modern Art.
What differentiates Modernisme from Art Nouveau is the influences of Neo-Mudejar and Neo-Gothic elements that are included in Modernisme but not in the Art Nouveau movement that began in Paris.
However, both movements are a refreshing take on architecture involving decorative elements from nature into the designs. And there is no doubt that Gaudi created his own take on Modernisme that is unique to him.
In Barcelona, Modernisme brought a romantic and unique appeal to the new Eixample and, in recent years, has propelled the city’s arrivals to 33 million annually.
From the Antoni Gaudi Barcelona buildings, to other UNESCO sites such as Palau de la Musica or Hospital de Sant Pau i de la Santa Creu, both of which are some of my favorite places to visit in Barcelona, Modernisme is synonymous with the city and you can’t visit Barcelona without exploring some of its most prominent landmarks.
Now, let’s look at all the Gaudi Barcelona works.
Gaudi tours in Barcelona
The best way to learn more about gaudi is by joining one of the themed Gaudi tours. Below are our pick of the best.
- Skip the line, best-selling Sagrada Familia and Park Guell tour
- If you just want an introduction, take this tour with entry to Park Guell and exterior guided descriptions of Casa Batllo, Casa Mila and Sagrada Familia. Or go for the tour that also includes tickets to Casa Batllo.
- Extremely popular segway tour of Barcelona that whizzes past many of Gaudi’s works.
- Casa Batlló, Casa Milà, Sagrada Familia, and Park Güell Tour.
- Walking tour of key Modernist sites, including Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, La Pedrera and other, all from outside with explanations from the guide. Check details and availability here.
Now, let’s look at all the Gaudi Barcelona works.
The lamp posts of Placa Reial
These two lamp posts on Placa Reial were Gaudi’s first work as a graduated architect (the fountain in Placa de la Ciutadella was done when he was still an apprentice).
They were commissioned at the time when the city first had public electricity to illuminate one of its most popular squares.
The lamp posts are in the middle of the square, next to the fountain, and display some of Gaudi’s signature elements: rounded lines and nature, as well as Catalan symbols.
They were inaugurated during La Merce festivities, the patron Saint of Barcelona, in 1879, and have a marble base but are made of cast iron. At the top one can see a staff carried by Mercury, a Greek God, which is an emblem of the city.
Two additional but identical lampposts were placed in Placa de Palau.
La Casa Vicens
La Casa Vicens, Gaudi’s first major project and also his first commissioned private residence, started in 1883.
Commissioned to be the summer house of the Vicens family, Gaudi designed it from scratch in what is today the neighborhood of Gracia, but at the time was only the countryside with nothing around it.
Casa Vicens is pretty different from any other work of Gaudi in Barcelona and is the one which most prominently displays Moorish architecture influences, particularly oriental elements found in constructions in the south of Spain.
While outside the house is made of simple exposed red brick and tiles with yellow and green floral motifs, inside each room is an explosion of color, textures, materials and designs that are hard to assimilate.
Unlike his later works at La Pedrera and Casa Batllo, which are elegant and sober, Casa Vicens is completely over the top and already shows some of Gaudi’s signature elements such as the rooftop chimneys that we find in each one of his constructions.
Don’t miss the papier mache ceiling in the entrance hall at the back or the cigar room which has clear Moorish influences and bright indigo blue tiles and paint.
Casa Vicens does not offer tours or audio guides and can only be visited independently or with your own guide which I highly recommend because otherwise, you will have a limited understanding of the building.
Official website: https://casavicens.org/
Price: 16 EUR per person.
La Casa Batllo
La Casa Batllo is perhaps one of the few works by Gaudi that bears no other influence but Modernisme and probably his most complete.
Casa Batllo was originally built in 1877 by one of Gaudi’s teachers and was later purchased and renamed by the Batllo family in 1903.
Josep Batllo was a wealthy textile industrialist who married the daughter of the founder of the Spanish newspaper La Vanguardia.
Batllo had several factories and was a well known industrialist, so living on Passeig de Gracia was a logical choice as this was the address for the Catalan bourgeoisie at the time.
When he hired Gaudi, Batllo gave him full creative freedom and indicated that he wanted the previous house demolished. But Gaudi decided otherwise and instead fully renovated it and added a new facade, the most eye-catchy part of the building.
As with most houses of the time, the family lived on the first floor, the noble floor, which is why it had a large verandah with beautiful stained glass, while the upper floors used to be rented out. The Batllo family lived on the noble floor until the 1950s.
Inspired by the Mediterranean sea and the Legend of Saint George, Catalonia’s (and England’s) patron saint, the roof is topped with green, blue and pinkish tiles that look like the scales of the dragon Saint George had to fight and the facade is totally covered in mosaic tiles.
La Casa Batllo is a complete allegory of nature.
The upper balconies and the main verandah of the noble floor represent fish bones, and this skeletal look has given it the nickname of Casa dels ossos, or House of bones.
What you see today is an incredible work of art, not just of architecture, but of applied arts and craftsmanship. Casa Batllo also displays modern features that were not common of the time and combined beauty with function.
There are stunning heaters that look like sculptures, fireplaces that are designed like mushrooms and wall lights that are shaped like turtles. The two patios of lights, or skylights, in the middle of the house, bring much-needed light while also serving as an artistic piece.
In the wintertime, snow falls through the patio of lights and, as you get closer to the top, you will notice the tiles get darker in color.
The best part of a visit to Casa Batllo is that, not only can you get up and close with one of the most spectacular attractions the city has to offer, but also see Gaudi’s allegories and the original furniture with the augmented reality guide.
Casa Batllo’s furniture was some of the most beautiful in all of Gaudi’s works and emulated nature while showing the skill of its artisans. He designed every piece of Casa Batllo’s furniture. The augmented reality guide shows you how they looked and where they were. Some of the pieces, like the double chair, are for sale at the store.
Starting in 2019, you can also explore the studio area which has been furnished with period pieces from other Modernist homes, and you can get a picture with clothes from the time.
Casa Batllo was declared UNESCO World Heritage in 2005 and opened to visits in 2002 in what was declared the International Year of Gaudi in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of his birth.
The block where the house is located is referred to as “La Manzana de la discordia” or the Block of Discord, because it features four buildings by the major modernist architects: Antoni Gaudi, Lluís Puig i Cadafalch, Josep Domènech i Muntaner and Enric Sagnier.
The current owners of Casa Batllo, the Bernat family who owns Chupa Chups and who took care of the renovation of the building, has worked tirelessly to expand the cultural offering with concerts, performances and events throughout the year that have given the building a new life.
You can attend summer concerts in the courtyard, you can take vintage photos on the fishbone balconies, visit the house at night or see light shows projected on the back walls. The standard audio guide comes with augmented reality videos.
Casa Batllo has to be one of my favorite spots in Barcelona and one that I always take all visitors to. It is the perfect place to learn more about Gaudi’s style, and it is an iconic building as beautiful on the outside as it is inside.
Pro tip: During marked occasions such as Sant Jordi or Christmas, the facade is beautifully decorated. During Christmas, it snows inside the building.
One million people visit Casa Batllo every year (that is around 3,000 a day or 300 every hour) so it is essential to book tickets in advance, even during the quiet winter months. Additionally, tickets bought in advance are 4 euro cheaper than at the ticket office.
I highly recommend visiting Casa Batllo on a guided tour. The house offers audio guides but not guided tours so you need to book that on your own. Here are some of the best tours of Casa Batllo:
|Tour||Price||What’s included||Book online|
|GUIDED TOUR and skip the line tickets for Casa Batllo + Park Guell + Sagrada Familia||149 EUR||Early access to Casa Batllo before it opens, skip the line and guided tour of Park Guell and skip the line guided tour of Sagrada Familia with access to the tower. Transport between both.||Book here|
|GUIDED GAUDI WALKING TOUR Casa Batllo + Sagrada Familia + Park Guell||599 EUR (per group of 10 ppl)||Visit the these famous Gaudi sites with a guide who will tell you all about Antoni Gaudi.||Book here|
|Regular ticket Silver||33 EUR||Blue benefits plus access to the Private Modernist hall.||Book here|
|Regular ticket Gold||35 EUR||Silver benefits plus a vintage photo at the Modernist hall, skip the line option and better headset for the SmartGuide.||Book here|
|PRIVATE TOUR with Gold ticket||230 EUR||For your party only, Gold tickets and a guide taking you through the house.||Book here|
If you have the following card you get a 3 EUR discount on the ticket price:
- Barcelona Card – Get your Barcelona card here and enjoy discounts at 25+ places.
Children below the age of 7 enter free.
Alternatively, you can also use one of the discount cards available to plan your visits.
Pro tip: Take note that this is one of the few places in Barcelona that remains open 365 days of the year so it pays to come when everything else is closed (in Spain, everything closes on Sundays).
Official website: https://www.casabatllo.es/
Price: From 35 EUR depending on the ticket bought. Residents of Catalonia have discounts (17.50 to 25 EUR instead).
La Pedrera or Casa Mila
La Pedrera was one of the last buildings that Gaudi designed before he confined himself to La Sagrada Familia and it was only finished in 1912, after six long years of disputes with the City Council and the Mila family.
The Mila family bought a plot of land at the then fashionable Passeig de Gracia and hired Gaudi to build a home for them. They were to live on the main floor and rent out the rest. In fact, three of the flats are still rented out to tenants.
How is that possible, you say?
Because these are outdated rental agreements that cannot be canceled and still have the same amount that was charged 70 years ago.
The most impressive element of La Pedrera is that the facade is entirely decorative, in what is called a curtain wall, it could be removed and the building would still stand.
This is why, when the City Council threatened to withhold the building permit because the building’s facade extended into the pavement illegally, Gaudi said he would simply cut it out, and put a plaque up to state it had been cut at the request of the City Council.
To resolve the issue, the building was designated a National Monument in 1909.
Aside from the facade, La Pedrera had several other modern elements not seen before such as the ground floor parking space for cars not just coaches.
Each of the floors of La Pedrera had four apartments with direct facade access and ceilings decorated in plaster motifs. The main floor, where the Mila family lived, was completely changed when Gaudi died because Mrs. Mila did not like his furnishings or decor.
The doors, parquet floor, ceilings and furniture were completely destroyed and replaced with more classic alternatives.
One of the favorite parts of a visit to La Pedrera is the attic, made of a corridor constructed with catenary arches that Gaudi invented and today houses an exhibition on Gaudi’s works and life. Originally, this was the laundry room, like in Casa Batllo.
From the attic, you can access the rooftop, with Gaudi’s signature chimneys and ventilation towers, more than in any other building given the size of La Pedrera. Here is where summer concerts are held. The views over Passeig de Gracia and Barcelona are also superb.
This was the first of the Gaudi Barcelona buildings to be included as a World Heritage site in 1984 along with Park Guell and Palau Guell, and Spain’s first group of monuments listed. The building reopened to the public after a complete renovation in 1996.
Today, La Pedrera is home of Catalunya La Pedrera Foundation with a mandate on nutrition, social, environmental and scientific fields.
Pro tip: When you finish your trip, pay a visit to the chocolate store that is on Carrer Valencia right under La Pedrera by Simon Coll chocolates under the brand Chocolate Amatller, they are not only amazing chocolates but the Art Nouveau packaging makes for an amazing gift.
Like with Sagrada Familia and Casa Batllo, La Pedrera is one of Gaudi’s most visited landmarks and receives over a million visitors a year or 3,000 a day. That means you should book your tickets ahead of time to ensure you can get in.
These are the best ticket options:
- Skip the line ticket with audio guide
- Visit Casa Mila at night to see the audiovisual projections on the staircase and rooftop and have a semi-guided tour and glass of cava. Check prices and availability here.
- Casa Batlló, La Pedrera, & Chocolate Tasting Tour.
Because the building still acts as an exhibition center, there are lots of temporary things happening, check out the agenda here.
Official website: https://www.lapedrera.com/
Price: From 24 to 41 EUR per person, night time visits are pricier.
La Sagrada Familia
There is not much I can say about the most famous of all the Gaudi Barcelona buildings that has not been said before.
There are documentaries, books, articles galore and millions of visitors a year. In 2017 it was the world’s most reviewed attraction on TripAdvisor and it receives over 4.5 million visitors a year.
And this is only 20% of the number of people who actually come to see it, 80% stay out and admire its beauty from afar.
Fortunately, this is why La Sagrada Familia finally has a completion date, in 2026, since all the funds generated via the ticket sales go towards its construction. But note that the 2026 date is for the architectural elements not the decorative ones, so work will continue afterwards.
El Temple Expiatori de La Sagrada Familia, or the Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family, referring to Jesus Christ, Saint Joseph and the Virgin Mary, is Gaudi’s architectural masterpiece. Although, of the entire building, he only had time to build one of the facades.
No other building comes close to its dimensions or level of complexity, and no other building meant as much to the architect, a devout Catholic, as this one.
As previously mentioned, Gaudi devoted the last 12 years of his life exclusively to La Sagrada Familia and died while living in the Crypt in 1926, hence the current planned date for completion on the 100th anniversary of his death.
Construction of La Sagrada Familia started in 1882 with a different architect, but Gaudi took over a year later. As was common with religious buildings, the construction was financed with donations, and still is today.
It is the building’s popularity that has brought in millions of tourists whose ticket purchases have accelerated the building’s construction works.
Work on La Sagrada Familia has continued without a fault since 1883, despite the set-backs during the Spanish Civil War (which destroyed parts of it) and the many financial crises (1930s, dot com bubble, the 2008 subprime mortgage scandal which badly hit Spain).
It was in 1889, when Gaudi received a large donation and decided to rethink the original Neo-Gothic style of the building that the previous architect had designed. This changed the course of history and gave the building its current form.
When Gaudi died, other architects continued his work based on the models and plans he left. They had personally worked with Gaudi and knew him, so were able to fill the gaps left when many of the plans and documents were destroyed during the Civil War.
Subsequent architects have continued their work until today, taking the plans made by their predecessors and trying to be as close to Gaudi’s vision as possible.
Before his death, Gaudi had only seen the Nativity facade and the first tower completed, this is why the UNESCO listing for La Sagrada Familia is not for the entire building but for the Nativity facade which Gaudi supervised.
La Sagrada Familia is a landmark that you can visit over and over again and every time discover something new, not least because the building does indeed evolve very fast.
The last six towers to Jesus, Mary and the four Apostles are currently in the process of being constructed and will change the skyline of the city forever.
When finished, La Sagrada Familia will be the tallest building in Barcelona and the tallest religious structure in Europe with the tower to Jesus measuring just over 170m. Bear in mind Barcelona’s buildings are a mere few storeys high and everything around La Sagrada Familia is less than 10 storeys high.
The last part to be built will be the Glory facade which will require an entire block of Eixample buildings to be demolished, to much local uproar.
This is because Gaudi had envisioned a grand entrance to the basilica with a staircase that would occupy this space and connect it to Diagonal Avenue. A huge red carpet that would bring pilgrims and believers into the grandest temples of all.
If you are curious about the building and want to see 3D videos and other materials on its evolution, the basilica’s YouTube channel has several interesting videos.
Pro tip: Since 2010, La Sagrada Familia is a consecrated religious Roman Catholic basilica where mass is given weekly. If you are Catholic, you can access the church freely during mass times.
All eyes are now on 2026, so make sure to see this famous Gaudi and Barcelona landmark when you are in the city. I have even written a complete guide to Sagrada Familia which includes some great tips.
Visiting La Sagrada Familia requires advanced planning. Showing up without pre-booked tickets will end in disappointment for sure. You must purchase tickets in advance which will have a predefined entry time.
If you haven’t, your only bet is to book a tour that goes inside in which case the agency will have pre-booked the tickets for you.
- Sagrada Familia Exterior Tour and VR Experience. 22 EUR
- Sagrada Familia: Tour with Tower Access. 59 EUR
- Fast track express guided tour (1.5h). 64 EUR
I highly recommend that, at the very least, you get the audio guide, but to make the most of it, come with a guide who will be able to tell you all about the building because it is impressive or book one of the guided tours that are offered in 5 languages.
It is worth it to go up the towers because you will have the opportunity to see great views of the city but, most importantly, see the details of the towers up and close.
Official website: https://sagradafamilia.org/en/home
Price: Basic ticket at 20 EUR. Other tickets with audio-guide, towers or guided tours between 26 and 33 EUR.
El Palau Guell
I visited Palau Guell with my mother. As we walked down la Rambla, she was telling me that she used to visit a second cousin who lived inside Palau Guell when she was a teenager. This was my grandmother’s cousin.
I was intrigued, so during our visit we looked for the small apartment our relatives lived in. It was still there, as was the service staircase my mother used at the time.
How was it possible that a distant cousin of mine lived in Guell’s palace?
My mum and I have spent quite some time digging into archives to figure this out and here’s what we discovered.
My mum’s uncle was the secretary of Viscount Guell, son of Eusebi Guell. This was in the 1930s. At the time, there were strong anarchist movements against the growing industrialisation and modernisation of Barcelona as well as against Primo de Rivera’s dictatorship.
As a wealthy industrialist, Guell was a clear emblem of the establishment and a target of violent attacks.
One day around 1934/35, a member of FAI (the Iberian Anarchist Federation), the main anarchist group, entered into Palau Guell intending to kill Mr. Guell only to find his secretary. He took the fall for his boss. Feeling sorry for the widower and daughter, Guell offered them a place to live inside the palace.
Years later, my mum’s cousin found a job at the local City Hall and moved out of the palace but my mum still remembered coming to play with her cousin, the daughter of the deceased secretary, at the palace.
With the Palau’s refurbishment, what used to be their flat is now the billiard room, which you can visit towards the end of the tour if you come out to the back courtyard and enter a small room. It is now linked to the rest of the house but was a standalone apartment then.
Besides the little anecdote, what is Palau Guell and why should you visit this Gaudi Barcelona landmark?
Palau Guell was the city residence of the Guell family. Gaudi’s most prolific patron and the client that commissioned this palace as a place to meet the needs of the family’s social life and the entire building was designed with this purpose in mind.
Unlike other Gaudi constructions, where nature, color and brightness are prevalent, Palau Guell was designed with darker materials, most elegant and sober, and richer. Gold, black, grey, red velvet, all give this grander, opera-like feel that is unlike other Gaudi constructions.
Located on Nou de la Rambla, one of the streets that starts at La Rambla, its central location near the Liceu Opera House meant that Palau Guell was the perfect entertainment destination.
Most visitors stay outside and look at its rather nondescript facade but the magic of this UNESCO-listed building rests inside.
Recently opened to the public after a long restoration, Palau Guell was originally completed in 1890 at the beginning of Gaudi’s career, and was his first major project.
When you start the tour, you will go down to the stables and garage. Here you can see the street entrance for coaches and horses and the typical, industrial look of the red exposed brick that is common in Casa Vicens and Guell Colony.
But you will note how the capitols and vaulted ceiling already allude to Gaudi’s style. Palau Guell also features his signature chimneys on the rooftop.
On the ground floor, next to the souvenir shop, is a model of the house where you can see how large it is. Because of its location in between the crowded streets of Raval, it is hard to imagine that the palace occupied four plots of land.
The entrance to the Palace is grand. With its red and yellow carpet and grand grey marble staircase, you have the feeling you are indeed entering a mansion. Many of the columns here are straight, unusual in Gaudi’s designs.
Through the building you will see references to the palace’s function as a social gathering place. There are strategically located windows for Mrs. Guell to observe how guests were dressed, a piano, and a large organ at the top for the Guell’s daughter to play.
The highlight is precisely this central hall, where musical auditions, literary readings and other artistic endeavours took place before the highest echelons of the Catalan Bourgeoisie.
With its high ceiling that goes all the way to the roof to channel the light, and its parabolic dome, if none of the previous excesses and shows of wealth did not impress you, this hall certainly would.
But the role of this vertical hall was to channel sound and music that would come from each floor. An orchestra, organs, singers and an audience would sit on different floors and feel that the music engulfed them, which was true.
From time to time, during your visit, the organ will play some of the songs that were played in the hall to show how extraordinary the acoustics are.
Pro tip: Observe the incredible craftsmanship of the artisans that worked on the wooden doors, the ceilings and the wrought iron details. They are magnificent and took years to finish after the palace officially opened.
Don’t miss the golden chapel, hidden behind two closet doors in the main hall, and a visit to the attic and roof, from where you can get closer to the parabolic dome ceiling and see Gaudi’s signature chimneys.
Palau Guell is still quite unknown to tourists and visitors to Barcelona and it is one of the least visited of all of Gaudi’s buildings. To make the most of your visit, I would recommend a guided tour.
This Barcelona Highlights and Hidden Gems Private Walking Tour includes a walking tour of La Rambla with Palau Guell and Plaça Reial. Check prices and availability here. You will also get to explore Barceloneta, the church of Santa Maria Del Mar, a perfume shop and Palau de la Música.
Official website: https://www.palauguell.cat/en
Price: Standard tickets cost 12 EUR and include an audio guide in many languages. Note that in winter, the palace closes earlier. Palau Guell is closed on Monday and on main public holidays (Christmas and Boxing Day, 1st and 6th of January).
Price is 9 EUR with the Barcelona Card or Barcelona Card Express. Unemployed residents and children under 10 enter free.
El Park Guell
Park Guell is one of the best known Gaudi Barcelona landmarks together with La Sagrada Familia, and with reason.
This gated community created by Guell and designed by Gaudi did not take off as an urban development model, but it sure is a popular tourist attraction.
Its English sounding name (park in Catalan is parc) already alludes to the inspiration taken from residential parks in the UK, which is where Eusebi Guell got his idea.
When the park’s construction started, in 1900, Gaudi was a well-established architect and Guell a wealthy industrialist. As the project evolved, both moved into the complex, Guell in the large family house today used as a school and Gaudi, in 1906, in one of the show houses with his father and niece.
Originally, Park Guell was supposed to have 60 residences and large park areas, but given its exclusive location of difficult access, up in the mountain, and its high price, the development’s praise of quieter green life near nature, fell on deaf ears and in 1914 its construction was abandoned.
After Guell’s death, the heirs sold the park and development to the City Council who opened it to the public in 1926. Gaudi’s house was turned into the Gaudi House Museum in 1963. In 1984, the park was listed as a UNESCO site along with other 6 works by Gaudi.
When I was a kid the park was fully opened to the public. As it became more and more popular and crowds of tourists posed a threat to the fragile constructions and their preservation, the City Council decided to restrict access to the main area where Gaudi’s trencadis benches and balcony are, behind a ticketing system.
90% of the park remains free and accessible to everyone and neighbours of adjacent districts also have free access to the restricted area.
In the free area you can find original trees that grew in the area plus other Mediterranian plants that Gaudi planted. There are also some of Gaudi’s architectural wonders here, but I highly recommend getting a ticket to visit the restricted area.
Pro tip: Park Guell has several picnic tables and benches. Bring sandwiches for a leisurely lunch. Limited food or drinks are sold in the park.
While in the park, the most famous spots in the restricted area are the balcony with the undulating trencadis mosaic benches and the pillared area underneath. The dragon that sits at the entrance to the park (free area) is a popular photo spot and has become a symbol of Gaudi.
As part of your visit, make sure to stop at the Casa de guarda, which was the housekeeper’s house and whose entry is included in your ticket, and the Gaudi House Museum which has separate ticketing.
Since 2013, if you want to visit the restricted area you will need to buy a ticket. Access is restricted to 800 people an hour. Each ticket has an entry time slot you can’t miss but once inside there is no time limit.
If you do the math you will realise that this is 16,000 people per day on average or up to 6 million visitors a year. Buying a ticket ahead of time is a must, even in the winter months.
Park Guell is far away from the city center and of relatively difficult access. For this reason, the City council set up the Bus Guell that connects metro stop Alfons X with Park Guell’s main entrance in just 15 min.
All tickets to Park Guell have the bus service included. The bus runs from 15min before the park opening to 45min after it closes.
Pro tip: Check the opening hours of the Park because they vary per month, from winter (5-5:30pm closure) to summer (9:30pm closure) but usually follow daylight hours.
The tickets don’t include audio guide but there is free WiFi service inside the Monumental area which allows you to connect to use the Park Guell app so you can follow the audio guide on your phone.
If you want to book a guided tour they are available for 12 EUR on top of the ticket to the restricted area and are offered in Catalan, Spanish, English and French, most slots are in English.
Better yet, book a tour that includes Park Guell and transportation for a hassle free experience. Here are the best options:
- Entry ticket to Park Guell. 13 EUR (Gaudi House Museum not included)
- Guided tour of Park Guell with skip the line tickets. 25 EUR
Or book a 1h and 45min private photoshoot at Park Guell to take beautiful memories home. The package includes entry to the restricted area. 110 EUR
Official website: https://parkguell.barcelona/
Price: Entry to the restricted area is 10 EUR, children below 7 come in free and below 12 pay 7 EUR. You must buy a ticket even if it is free because they also count towards the maximum amount of people allowed per hour.
While The Bellesguard is not one of the most famous Gaudi Barcelona buildings it was one that I very much enjoyed visiting because of its history and story as well as its privileged views over Barcelona.
Bellesguard is unique in Gaudi’s portfolio because of the fact that, in trying to emulate a medieval castle, Gaudi had to give the illusion of straight lines, something he never used in his designs. But fret not, he didn’t completely give in, if you get closer you will see that the walls aren’t actually fully straight.
Completed in 1909 on the high slopes of Barcelona’s hills, Bellesguard was a private house for the Guilera family who still own it, and was constructed on the remains of the royal residence of Martin the Humane King, Martin I, who lived and died on the spot in 1410.
Martin the Humane was Catalonia’s last King. Dying without descendents meant that the dynasty of the House of Barcelona and the Catalan independent Kingdom had no continuation.
The Kingdom of Catalonia and Aragon merged into the Spanish Crown and the rest is history. For a fervent Catalan like myself, exploring Bellesguard was a reminder of our history.
As I mentioned earlier, Gaudi, and Modernisme in general, represented a return to Catalonia’s golden era, the time before the death of Martin the Humane, the Gothic period. When you visit Bellesguard, you see it all come together: the 19/20th century Modernisme, the Gothic style, La Renaixenca and Catalonia’s epic past.
Your tour will start with the remains of Martin the Humane castle, whose walls are still visible, and you will also be told one of the tales we learned as kids: the bandolier and bandit Serrallonga who used to hide in La Fageda d’en Jordà and the Garrotxa and rob the rich to give to the poor (yes, the Catalan version of Robin Hood).
Interestingly, as I heard the audio guide mention his name, I couldn’t help but sing the song I probably learned as a really small kid, that told the story of this bandolier. Many legends and myths have been written around him which, as kids we learned on school trips.
Serrallonga apparently hid at Bellesguard when it was in ruins, two centuries after Martin I’s death in 1634, and when he was finally caught and killed, his bones were spread across the places he frequented. Perhaps a piece ended up in Bellesguard.
To honor this legend that is so popular in Catalan culture, Gaudi made one of the handles of the stables in the shape of a femur bone.
The tour continues to the garden area, where references to Martin the Humane, the Catalan Kingdom’s splendor at the time and the importance of the House of Barcelona are repeated. With dates marking 1409 (Martin I’s marriage) and 1410 (Martin I’s death) and several allusions to the sun, rising to symbolise growth and setting to remind us of the end of the House of Barcelona.
The two benches at the entrance to the building have elaborate mosaics which tell the story of the end of the dynasty.
The boat, from the Royal Navy from the House of Barcelona which, at the time, had conquered much of the Mediterranian (from Sicily, to Naples and beyond), carries a white sail to remind us of the bad news: the king’s son had died in the battle.
The other bench tells the sad story of the King’s death, without descendants, in 1410. A setting sun behind Montserrat, brings an end to the House of Barcelona.
As you explore the tower you will no doubt be drawn to many other references to Catalan mythology, legends and history, so a visit to this Gaudi Barcelona landmark will also give you a bit more than an architectural insight, it will open a door to Catalan culture.
The tour continues inside where a caretaker will guide you through the various spaces with your audio guide in small groups every half an hour.
Don’t miss the visit to the top for fabulous 360 degree views of Barcelona and Tibidabo, and to spot St. George’s dragon face.
Bellesguard is far away from the city center in the upper parts of Barcelona. There are buses that go there but no metro station nearby. Bear in mind that it is only open in the mornings, until 3pm and closed on Monday.
You can visit it independently with the audio guide which is pretty good, or join one of their guided tours.
Official website: https://bellesguardgaudi.com/en/
Price: Guided tour for 16 EUR and entry ticket with audio guide for 9 EUR. Children below the age of 8 enter for free and those under 18 enjoy reduced prices. Buy tickets in advance here.
This stunning 1900 building in Eixample is today an apartment building with offices and regular homes. On the ground floor is a high-end Chinese royal cuisine restaurant.
The house was originally built for the Calvet family and has remained a private dwelling that is not open to the public. However, if you are nearby, you should drop by to admire its facade.
Although it cannot compare to other over the top facades that Gaudi designed like Casa Batllo or Casa Vicens, Casa Calvet has some of the architect’s most famous elements.
Wrought iron balconies, intricate stone carvings and several references to Catalan and local heritage. And his bad temper!
The building’s height was a few meters above what was legally allowed at the time and Gaudi, as with Casa Mila, threatened to chop the top off at the level the authorities required. Thankfully that was not necessary but, if you visit, you will see the top parts are indeed higher than all other adjacent buildings.
The Calvet son was so happy with the design that he commissioned Gaudi to also design the interior of the offices that were on the ground floor and basement. Here is where Gaudi came up with the now famous Calvet chair, a replica of which you can buy at Casa Batllo store and online.
Pavellons de la Finca Guell – Guell Pavilions Dragon Gate
The Guell Pavilions were one of the first works that Eusebi Guell commissioned from Gaudi, but sadly it is the worst preserved. Today, the space is undergoing thorough renovation and only its famous dragon gate can be visited.
Originally, the Guell Estate property, which the pavilions are a part of, was the result of combining several estates that were annexed by three generations of the Guell family.
Starting with Eusebi Guell’s father and finishing with his son, the property grew to a huge area. In 1919, after Eusebi’s death, his son donated the house and part of the land to the City Council who turned it into the Royal Palace.
During the renovations of the property for use as the royal residence in Barcelona, Gaudi’s work was removed and instead, a Neoclassical building erected. Later on, when Diagonal Avenue opened, the estate was further split and the University of Barcelona bought some of the land.
Today, the Royal Palace is rarely used, and does not look very regal, not least because the royal family is not wanted in Barcelona and they don’t come to visit.
However, the royal gardens are open to the public and because of their location in the campus area of the University of Barcelona, they are a popular green space for a picnic.
The Guell Pavilions that Gaudi designed are at the back of the garden, on Avinguda Pedralbes, and are at either side of a large wrought iron dragon gate which bears the letter G for Guell. The famous dragon, with its mouth wide open and its bat wings spread out, is impressive.
The gate was meant for horse-drawn carriages and the pavilions were for the stables and the housekeeper. There were several other elements that Gaudi designed such as fountains, kiosks, etc. but many were lost and others are in dire need of restoration.
If you are visiting Casa Vicens you will notice similarities as they were both built at the same time. A replica of the fountain that was in Casa Vicens is also in the gardens.
Funnily, I studied at ESADE which is just up the street from the dragon gate, and I walked past it for 5 years probably hundreds of times, but it never occurred to me that it was a piece by the genius.
The only part that can be visited is the Dragon Gate which is located on Avinguda Pedralbes, just one block up from Diagonal. The closest metro stop is Reina Cristina and there are many buses covering the route, no.22 connects it to Pl. Catalunya.
If you want to see what the pavilions looked like, this website by the University of Barcelona, whose campus is literally on the grounds of the pavilions, will give you a virtual tour.
La Colonia Guell
Colonia Guell is an industrial development that was meant to accommodate the textile mill and workers in Santa Coloma de Cervello, a small town outside Barcelona near the river Llobregat where Eusebi Guell had his estate Can Soler de la Torre.
Colonies were common of the time, and there were many in Catalonia, especially near rivers as water was essential for the mills (most were textile factories using hydraulic energy) and for people. They developed around a factory and were almost self-sustaining towns, with all the facilities required for the workers and their families. Productivity was the main objective.
Almost all the colonies have been abandoned or dismantled, my parents still remember one that was near Guell’s cement factory in Garraf, near Sitges, but there is nothing of that left today.
Colonia Guell was near River Llobregat but it did not actually use its water to function, instead, it was powered by coal and this made it quite a unique example. During the Civil War, the factory was taken over by the workers only to be returned to the Guell family at the end.
Colonia Guell survived because its textile mill functioned until the 1970s and its buildings were then annexed to the town of Santa Coloma de Cervello which by that point had outgrown the colony. The various properties within the Colonia were sold, the houses bought by their occupants.
In 1990, La Colonia Guell was declared of cultural interest because of its artistic and architectural value, and was therefore protected.
Gaudi was commissioned by Guell only to design the church of the Colonia Guell, but the entire Colonia is reminiscent of the Modernist style and of Gaudi’s other exposed red brick constructions, in particular, of Casa Vicens.
Most of the buildings that can be visited or admired today have a very similar design to that first residential project by Gaudi. In particular, Ca l’Espinal and the teacher’s house are remarkably similar.
The only part of Colonia Guell that Gaudi finished was the part commonly known as the Crypt which was in fact the lower nave of two that the church was to have when completed.
The rest of the church, eluding the second higher nave and the towers, was never completed because the Guell family decided to stop financing the project in 1914 (Eusebi died in 1910) and Gaudi devoted himself exclusively to La Sagrada Familia after that.
The Crypt is listed as part of Gaudi’s works by UNESCO and will be the highlight of your visit to La Colonia. The other main element is the small exhibition space that is located inside the ticketing office and which provides background around what colonies were and what the Colonia Guell manufactured.
It is in this small space where you will find one of Gaudi’s most impressive models, an upside down chain model that was made to prepare the moulds of the church and crypt of the Colonia. If you didn’t know it was a model you would have never realised it as it looks more like a modern, abstract art piece.
Gaudi was known for using large models as reference for his constructions. Instead of plans and written designs he preferred to make large-scale models of everything, from the buildings to the smallest decorative elements.
For La Colonia Guell he used gravity to create an upside down model using chains. The chains, when hung created the catenary arches that Gaudi was famous for and which you can find in the attics of almost all his constructions, from Casa Batllo to La Pedrera. He then made a mould of this design and flipped it to show what the church was to look like.
You can see a replica of this model hanging from the ceiling of the Exhibition, it measures 4m high. The original, along with the mould he made as a mirror image, are on display at Gaudi Museum next to Barcelona Cathedral.
The Crypt is important in Gaudi’s world because it is the place where he used all of his inventions under the same roof. You can see his exposed red brick, his catenary arches, his trencadis mosaic, the stained glass, everything that is Gaudinian.
All of these will be used in the construction of La Sagrada Familia and he would continue to use moulds as the reference for the unfinished church.
Pro tip: The crypt is used for mass services if you are interested. Don’t miss the beautiful benches inside the crypt.
Your ticket to Colonia Guell will come with an audio guide which is essential because there are no signs or exhibits in the various buildings. It will also come with a map which I found pretty hard to follow.
Bear in mind the buildings are occupied by people and Colonia Guell is an inhabited neighbourhood with people going about their daily lives.
La Colonia Guell is outside Barcelona and can be reached by Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya, FGC, which will take you there from Pl. Catalunya in 25min. From the station in Colonia Guell you just need to walk around 10-15min to the ticketing office. Use Google Maps because the signs are confusing.
The area covered by the ticket is quite large but the crypt itself is rather small and can be visited quite quickly. Most of the other buildings can only be observed from outside. I highly recommend you visit the museum.
We were told to allow for 1.5h to see it all but were done before that.
Besides buying a regular ticket which comes with a specific booking time slot and audio guide, there are also guided tours you can purchase, be it of the crypt, of the colony or of both.
Pro tip: La Colonia closes at 3pm on weekends.
Official website: http://gaudicoloniaguell.org/en
Price: 9 EUR for the standard ticket with audio guide, 14.5 EUR if you buy the entry ticket plus the return FGC ticket from Pl. Catalunya and 12 EUR if you buy the guided tour of the crypt and colonia. Buy all tickets here.
This school is where my grandmother studied her university degree. At the time, it was extremely rare for women to go to university, but my great grandparents were modern and early for their time and wanted their only daughter to study.
It was even more of a unique situation because my grandmother lived in Sitges, today a mere half an hour on the train from Barcelona, but at the time, too far for a daily commute, so she lived in the dormitories of the school during the week.
Escola Teresiana is a religious school managed by the Order of Saint Teresa of Jesus that is 125 years old and continues to educate children until the age of 18. It is attached to what was a monastery inhabited by nuns of the same order.
Gaudi was commissioned to design the building at the end of the 19th century, in parallel to Palau Guell which is a magnificent and over the top building that projects the wealth of the Guell family.
Escola Teresianas was the absolute opposite. It has very limited funds and had to project a sober image. Gaudi accepted it because of his religious devotion and managed to design something beautiful if functional and simple.
Escola Teresiana is a functioning school so you cannot visit it. If you are around, you might be able to take a peek, or be really nice with the staff and see if they let you take a quick look.
It is worth it to admire its facade though, which reminded me of the Bellesguard.
Official website: https://ganduxer.escolateresiana.com/
Bodegues Guell – Gaudi Garraf
If you drive from Barcelona to Sitges and want to avoid the expensive toll, you will enjoy wonderful views of the sea along the zigzagging coastal road, and will get the chance to see what is left of Guell’s Arslan cement factory and his winery in Garraf. Here is more on how to get from Barcelona Airport to Sitges and back.
The Massif of Garraf was a common source of stone for many of Gaudi’s constructions. The quarries extracted stone for construction but also for cement manufacturing and Guell had a prominent factory and colonia there.
Because of his estate and properties in the area, in the last decade of the 19th century, he commissioned the construction of a winery and chapel that were designed by Gaudi according to paperwork in the Sitges Archives (Garraf is an independent town but relies on Sitges for a lot of administrative functions).
If you are driving through, the winery is a restaurant called Gaudi Garraf where you can have lunch near the sea.
While it is not confirmed that Gaudi supervised the winery’s construction, it is likely he was involved in one way or another, seen as it bears some of his signature elements (catenary arches, exposed red brick, etc.) and that he was a really close friend of Guell at the time.
The winery is a restaurant today so you can visit if you purchase a meal or just pop in for a quick peek. There is no way to get there on public transportation so you can only visit if you have your own car. The restaurant has no website. While you’re at it, you can pop into some of the wineries near Barcelona for a complete oenophile tour or the area.
Other works and Barcelona attractions dedicated to Gaudi
Gaudi also built outside of Barcelona and even Catalonia. Particularly noteworthy are the works for his main client’s father in law, who was the Marquis of Comillas in the northern part of Spain, and in other places such as Mataro or Mallorca.
In Mataro he built the Workers Cooperative which was his first project and the place where he experimented with catenary arches for the first time. Of the complex, only the main building remains, which today is a museum and can be visited.
If you are visiting Montserrat, you can’t miss having a look at Gaudi’s contribution to Catalonia’s holy mountain. The architect designed the First Glorious Mystery which is a sculptural set part of the Monumental Rosary of Montserrat.
He did not make the sculptures himself, he only designed them, and they were completed in 1916 then damaged during the Civil War. You can find them on the path that connects the Monastery to the Holy Cave where the Virgin of Montserrat statue is said to have been found.
In the upper part of Barcelona in what is today the neighbourhood of Sarria but at the time was the village of Sarria, Gaudi also designed a fence and entrance for the Miralles Estate.
This is close to the Dragon Gate, on Carrer Manel Girona (sharing a name with the city Girona) which ends right where the gate is, and is like the gate, I must have walked and driven by it a million times. In this case, I did not miss the reference to Gaudi, not because of its undulating signature design, but because there is a small statue of the architect by the gate.
The gate and fence were the entrance to the Miralles Estate but today flank the pavement of an apartment complex in one of Barcelona’s wealthiest districts.
The gate resembled Casa Mila, with its white looking facade of undulating lines, and it was restored in 2000 when the small statue was added. The gate is open and free to visit right on C/ Manel Girona between the junction with C/Capita Arenas and C/Numancia.
Elsewhere in the rest of Spain, Gaudi built the Capricho, for the Marquis of Comillas’s brother-in-law in the town of the same name in Cantabria. If you have visited Casa Vicens just imagine a summer residence like that one but larger and with an even more over-the-top facade.
This summer house uses the same red exposed brick and tiles with green and yellow sunflowers that have the same colors as Casa Vicens and was built just before it. The same artesonado ceilings you can see there, with detailed decorations between the beams, can also be spotted here.
After Comillas, Gaudi was also commissioned to design a house and office building in Leon that is popularly known as Casa Botines. The business belonged to a Catalan industrialist that was a business partner of Guell who recommended hiring Gaudi.
Unlike all other Gaudi constructions, this one is pretty sober and classic, a clear example of Neo-Gothic style, as it had to fit with Leon’s many old buildings.
You will find small elements from Gaudi’s style, and a statue of St. George killing the dragon, a popular Catalan legend Gaudi loved and incorporated in many of his designs, but you could be forgiven for not realising it was his work. Today, the house is a museum to Gaudi.
Another of Gaudi’s works in the rest of Spain was of the Episcopal Palace in Astorga, also in the province of Leon. Bishop Grau who took over the diocesis after the previous palace had burnt down, was previously in Tarragona and originally from Reus like Gaudi, so he commissioned his friend to design the palace which Gaudi did based on photos the bishop sent him.
Because of the distance between Barcelona and Astorga, Gaudi could not visit often so he sent Catalan workers for the construction to make sure his plans would be followed.
This castle is closer to those in Central Europe, even close to Disneys’ famous Newschaffen castle near Munich, than to any of Gaudi’s other works in Barcelona. Again, the architect chose to match the surroundings and to adapt the design of the area, its climate and its heritage. Today, the Palace is a monument that can be visited.
Don’t forget to Pin this to your Barcelona & Architecture boards!
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