Following Gaudi’s trail in Barcelona
Planning a themed walking tour revolving around Gaudi in Barcelona isn’t exactly difficult; in fact, it would actually be hard NOT to. Because he is, quite simply, everywhere.
The most iconic landmarks of Barcelona are signed by Gaudi, and they also happen to be the most popular. For a good reason – they’re quite spectacular. I always say that touristy things are touristy for a reason, and that’s also true when it comes to Gaudi. He created such unique, utterly innovative pieces of art, intricately inspired by the sheer beauty and diversity of nature. Lots of people tried to copy or surpass him, but none have achieved their goal. Gaudi is simply too much of a genius.
So whether you already are a big fan of the architect, or if you want to learn more about his works, follow this itinerary through Gaudi’s Barcelona.
La Sagrada Familia
To think that I almost included the Sagrada Familia in my list of Europe’s most overrated attractions? I’m so glad I didn’t!
I visited the cathedral for the first time in 2009, while it still under major construction works. I basically paid 14 euros to see scaffolds and hear Catalan workers yell at each other. This time around, however, I realized that the the interior is completely finished, and the result is absolutely breathtaking. You can’t possibly imagine what the cathedral is like, because it’s unlike anything else.
Friendly tip: BUY YOUR TICKET IN ADVANCE. There is a constant 2-3 hour queue to get in, while it only takes a few seconds when you have your printed tickets. Be the wise one!
La Pedrera / Casa Millà
La Pedrera is one of the two Gaudi houses in Barcelona. I visited both, and I have to admit that I wasn’t very enthused about this one, for many reasons. Firstly, the building isn’t as unusual as the Casa Battló. Secondly, the visit takes us through a typical 1920s apartment, which felt more like a history museum to me. Thirdly, I felt that for 16 euros, the visit was too short, and an overall bad investment.
The one advantage of La Pedrera? The 360 degrees views over the city from the roof. All in all, I don’t recommend visiting this house unless you’re a hardcore Gaudi fan. There are far better options out there to learn about the architect than La Pedrera.
Parc de la Cituadella
Barcelona’s greenest oasis! The majestic fountain was designed by a then relatively unknown Gaudi, who was just about to graduate. This commissioned work allowed him to discover his true passion, and his unique, organic style, which would shape his ulterior projects, and whose heritage is instantly recognizable nowadays.
I’ve written more extensively about this one before, and I stand by my point – I think it’s perhaps Gaudi’s finest creation. I definitely prefer it over La Pedrera, which, like I said, isn’t nearly as funky or interesting. The Casa Batlló truly is a work of art considering all the different mosaics, the absence of straight lines, the arched roof and the vivid colors. If you visit one of the two Gaudi houses, I can’t recommend this one enough. A well invested 20 euros.
Maybe will you be as surprised as I was to learn that Gaudi himself designed the intricate lampposts at Plaça Reail, in the heart of Barcelona. It was his first official work as an architect, back in 1878. A relatively small contribution to the city when compared to the grandiose Sagrada Familia and the houses – but the way I see it, it’s just another proof of how versatile yet focused Gaudi was.
Park Guell was a very nice discovery for me. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy it because of the massive crowds but guess what? If you get there early enough, there is no one in sight. At 9 o’clock there were only a handful of us, including what I believe to be a few employees.
The views over Barcelona are unbeatable, and the mosaic works on the bench are quite stunning. I’d been wanting to see this park for myself ever since I watched “The Spanish Inn”, one of my favorite travel movies. And it didn’t disappoint! I could’ve easily spent an hour or two there, taking in all the colors, the angles, and the scenery. Definitely an essential stop on any Gaudi trail.