This week’s Grand Prix takes place in Barcelona, a city renowned for the stunning buildings and designs of one architect in particular – Gaudí.
Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) is one of Catalonia’s most notable sons, famous for producing outstanding examples of Modernisme architecture. Although many other countries were experiencing similar movements at this time, in Barcelona it was a way to express, solidify and celebrate Catalan culture.
However, Gaudí also had his own distinctive style, influenced by nature and religion, and seven of his buildings in or near Barcelona are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
1. Parc Güell
Gaudí used to live here, and today the building is home to the Gaudí House Museum. In the garden you can find examples of his mosaic work, like the dragon/lizard fountain and the serpent-like seating on the terrace at the top. Take a wander through pathways surrounded by some seriously sloping columns and around the Doric Temple.
2. Palau Güell
Just off the famous La Rambla, this was Gaudí’s early works. Built for Eusebi Güell, wealthy industrialist, this is now open to the public. Visit to admire the hall, a parabolic pyramid; the most stylish basement you might ever see; several stunning floors; and the roof, home to a myriad of mosaic pyramids.
3. Casa Milà
Casa Milà, also known as La Pedrera (stone quarry, as it supposedly looks like an open quarry) is today a cultural centre. Guided tours are available throughout the day in several languages, and take you around the roof terrace, the attic, an early 20th-century apartment, the courtyards and the exhibition hall.
4. Casa Vicens
I can’t say this is my favourite of his works, but again, the façade shows his great attention to detail. I don’t believe you can visit the inside of the building, but if you’re on the way to Parc Guëll then it’s worth stopping to see Gaudí’s first significant work.
5. Casa Batlló
This was designed for Josep Batlló, a wealthy man who wanted a house that stood out from the crowd. He certainly got it with one of Gaudí’s masterpieces. The outside looks like a mixture of skulls and bones, and inside is a further feast for the eyes.
6. Colònia Guëll – Gaudí Crypt
The idea here was actually to build a church. However, after six years, the Guëll family stopped funding Gaudí’s ambitious project and it was left unfinished. However, it was the first design to bring together all of his architectural innovations.
7. Crypt of La Sagrada Família
It hardly needs an introduction: the Sagrada Família is the most visited attraction in Spain, and one of the most famous buildings in the world. Gaudí devoted himself to the church for the last eleven years of his life, and it remains uncompleted. The current architect hopes the masterpiece might be finished by 2026!
Gaudí is famous for his attention to detail, so I can’t even begin to describe all the things that make each of these buildings so special – they have to be seen to be believed! Whether you like his work or not, there is no doubting his unique talent, and his cultural contribution to Catalonia.