Barcelona is a well-known destination among travelers who wish to have a good mix of fun and culture in a modern setting.

Knitted in this unmistakable urban fabric you will some unusual and well-known buildings of a single architect named Antoni Gaudí.  His unique approach to the Art Nouveau movement generated some of the most creative buildings you will see in this Spanish region known as Cataluña.

Even if you don’t know anything about architecture or Gaudí, when you walk the streets of Barcelona you will intuitively be able to identify a Gaudí building –they are unmistakable.  So, if you’re interested in experiencing an unusual Barcelona, you should take a look at 10 of the most important buildings designed by Gaudí:

Gaudi Casa Vicens

1. Casa Vicens

This is Gaudí’s first important building.  Built between 1883 and 1888, Casa Vicens is an imaginative residential project made for a rich family that owned a ceramic factory. This is clearly reflected in the “trencadis” façade that contains a big variety of ceramic decorations.  You can also see some Islamic architecture influences in its façade and in some of its rooms.

Gaudi's La Pedrera

2. La Pedrera

This is one of Gaudí’s main residential buildings and one of the most imaginative houses in the history of architecture.  This building is more a sculpture than a building.  The façade is a varied and harmonious mass of undulating stone that, along with its forged iron balconies, explores the irregularities of the natural world.  UNESCO recognized this building as World Heritage in 1984.

Gaudi's Park Guell

3. Parc Güell

Parc Güell was built between 1900 and 1914 and today is part of the UNESCO World Heritage.  This is a garden complex that houses a series of dynamically designed buildings, including Gaudí’s house.  Most buildings have the “trencadis” (surfaces covered with irregular ceramic pieces) that is characteristic of Gaudí and Art Nouveau.  The colonnade hall and the terrace with serpentine shapes are the most popular places of this park.  This park is the perfect place to walk quietly while enjoying nature and looking at Gaudí’s artwork.

Gaudi Palau Guell

4. Palau Güell

This is the palace residence of the Güell family. The exterior shows a sober façade that doesn’t resemble other projects made by Gaudí.  On the other hand, the interior and the roof make up for the lack of “Gaudiesque” elements in the façade.  The central living room has an unusual parabolic dome and the lounge ceiling is perforated by circles that, under the daylight, give the ceiling a planetarium appearance.  The roof counts with chimneys and conical vents resembling fir trees.

Gaudi Colonia Guell

5. Colonia Güell

Gaudí designed this irregular oval church and crypt in 1898 and finished its construction in 1914.  The interior of the crypt has five aisles: a central one and two more at each side.  The original Gaudí columns with various forms are present inside and outside.  The windows jut out over the walls, and in the upper part of the door a ceramic composition show the four cardinal virtues.  The crypt is built in basaltic stone bricks with mosaics that give an archaic appearance.

The construction techniques used here laid the foundation of the techniques used in La Sagrada Familia.

Gaudi Guell Dragon

6. El Drac de Gaudí at Finca Güell

Finca Güell is a big property of one of Gaudí’s biggest client, Eusebi Güell i Bacigalupi, the count of Güell.  But what’s interesting is not so much the complex, is its entrance iron gate.  The complex is composed by two buildings linked by a common monumental cast iron gate adorned with Art Nouveau vegetal fantasies and a medallion with the “G” of Güell.  The most astonishing feature is its unusual big iron dragon manufactured by the locksmith’s Vallet i Piquer.

Gaudi Casa Batllo

7. Casa Batlló

Casa Batlló is the result of a total restoration in 1904 of an old conventional house built in 1877.  Gaudí used for it the typical constructive elements of the Modernisme (Catalan Art Nouveau) that include ceramics, stone and forged iron.  Even though it was highly criticized by the city during construction for its radical design that broke all the bylaws of the city, in 1906 it was awarded by the Barcelona City Council as one of the three best buildings of the year.

Gaudi Casa Calvet

8. Casa Calvet

Casa Calvet was built between 1898 and 1900 for the Calvets, a family of textile industrialists. This is Gaudi’s most conventional work.

The stone facade reflects baroque influences, along with its bay windows, sculptural decoration, and interior decorations. The shape of the balconies can be seen as a forerunner to shapes used at Casa Batlló, where Gaudí turned much more to the inspiration of nature. The roof is topped with two pediments, each supporting a wrought iron cross.  They are surrounded by various pieces of stone ornamentation and crowned with statues of San Genis and Saint Peter – Calvets saints.

Gaudí La Sagrada Familia

9. La Sagrada Familia

This is the most famous of Gaudí’s works.  This church has been in construction since 1892 and it’s not expected to be finished until 2030.  The church presents a great depiction of the relationship between man, nature, and religion through its architecture and façade sculptures. Climbing one of its towers will give you a unique view of Barcelona.  Also, take the audio tour, is very informative and it’s well worth it.

Gaudi Cascada Fountain

10. Cascada Fountain at Park de la Ciutadella

The Cascada was designed by Josep Fontseré in 1881, specifically for the universal exhibition in 1888, with young Gaudí as assistant. Inspiration for the Cascada was the famous Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy. It is located in Barcelona’s most famous park – Park de la Ciutadella.

As you can see, Gaudí’s architecture is full of unusual and unexpected characteristics that are not seen in other buildings, let alone other cities in the world.  It’s no surprise why this architect’s works make great sightseeing destinations that without any doubt will create an impression on you.

Images 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 from Flickr’s Creative Commons.

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  1. says

    I guess, as an architect, you must find these buildings fascinating. :) I do find them fascinating but do I like them? I just don’t know. The more I look at them, the more confused I become. Maybe that’s a sign of an iconic building?

    • says

      I do find them fascinating, but just like you, I don’t necessarily like the aesthetics of all of them. I would never design a Gaudi-like building, but what I like so much about them is that they pushed the envelope with their design in an era when everything was becoming so mechanized. Gaudi was bold! I think you hit the nail in the head. Maybe that’s what make some of these buildings iconic. :)

  2. says

    Before reading this post, my only exposure to Gaudi was the reference to his work in the movie, Vicky Christina Barcelona (which I loved, by the way). I’d love to see these fantastic buildings in person. Really enjoyed seeing these pics and descriptions.

  3. says

    Norbert, you made my day. Gaudi and Hundertwasser are my favorite architects along with Klimmt being my favorite painter. They are all so full of fantasies, imagination and outrageous opulence yu can’t but gawk at their works in awe.

    • says

      Wow Inka, you never cease to amaze me! Yes, without any doubt they were outrageous and full of abstract designs. We have so much to talk whenever we meet in person. 😉

  4. says

    My long-term plan is to move to Barcelona someday… I absolutely love all of the Gaudi architecture there! I’ve been to the Sagrada Familia three times over the past two decades-it really has come a long way, but still has so far to go. I cannot wait to see it completed!

    I haven’t seen all of the buildings on your list, so this is great information.

    • says

      I find Sagrada Familia so interesting since it’s a work in progress and you actually get to see it evolve as time passes. I haven’t been back since 2003, so I know there will be so many new things to see in it. Barcelona is such a great city to live. That’s a great plan!

  5. says

    I hadn’t heard of Gaudi before, but I love his distinctive style and will be sure to check it out when I’m in Barcelona later this year. As an architect, you must have loved this!

    • says

      Yes, Barcelona was my Disney, not only for Gaudi, but also for all the great architecture this city has. When you go, make sure to go to La Rambla and to the waterfront (as well as other great places there). :)

  6. says

    AWESOME!!! What a great collection. We are hopefully heading to Barcelona in the fall, so I will definitely be getting in touch with you before we go. Great collection and awesome pictures.

  7. says

    I loved Barcelona. Saw these amazing buildings last year. It’s so easy to get to Barcelona now from anywhere in Europe, as the cheap budget airlines nearly all go here!! So take a trip if any of you guys are near! Also go to the Picasso Museum!! Glorious!

    • says

      Ah, the Picasso Museum! Love it! He is one of my favorite painters. There I bought a small replica of the Guernica and his reinterpretation of Las Meninas of Velazques. Totally worth visiting.

  8. says

    Oh great post & great pics!!! I am going to have to keep this post in mind for when I visit Barcelona. I have heard nothing but good things about this city & plan on spending more than just a few days there.

  9. says

    Any chance the term “gaudy” came from Gaudi? LoL! Just saying! I can see where maybe some of the stuff would be interpreted that way. Some of it is awesome, but a few of those are uglyyyyy (IMO)

    • says

      Hmmm, I really don’t know. It would be interesting to know if there is any relationship. Haha… yes, not all Gaudi buildings are the most aesthetically pleasing, but that’s one of the things that made him so revolutionary and controversial during his time.

  10. says

    So beautiful! What an amazing thing it would be to be able to create huge practical structures out of the pictures in your imagination. Seeing these in person is on my bucket list.

    • says

      When you have the chance to see them you will learn a bit about his design techniques. You will be impressed by how crazy they are… like building models out of cords hanging upside down to create the shape of the buildings. That’s how he designed Sagrada Familia. :)

  11. says

    Barcelona just wouldn’t be the touristic hub it is today without Gaudi’s works. I visited Barcelona again this year for my B-day and I just think it’s the most beautiful city in Spain.

    • says

      Laura, I totally agree with you! Gaudi is part of the character of Barcelona and what makes it so unique. Great place to spend a birthday! 😉

  12. says

    I love chasing down and photographic architecture. Love Gaudi too…his buildings are scattered around Spain, but there is a great concentration in Barcelona–a city I have to get back to.

    • says

      Me too! Gaudi is such an interesting architect, and individual too. Yes, his mayor concentration of buildings is in Barcelona. It’s time for me to go back too! It’s been too long since I was there.

  13. Nicole says

    I wish I’ll get a chance to see all these amazing structures very soon. It was very inspiring just reading through this post. Thanks for sharing.

  14. says

    It’s funny, because I am not usually a big architecture guy, but my first time in Barcelona these Gaudi buildings really made a big impression on me, and this post really brings me back there. Pretty much saw all of the ones you listed except for the fountain, I guess I’ll have to track it down next time.

    • says

      Gaudi is quite unique, so its not surprising that he can make an impression even on people who are not interested in architecture. It’s not so much about the architecture itself but more about the artistic statement and the history behind his buildings. :)

  15. says

    I’m furious with myself for forgetting to visit Casa Calvet during our recent trip to Barcelona. I’d read about it a couple of times before and recall reading this post when I first starting blogging a couple of years back, but it slipped my mind on this most recent trip.

    Maybe next time, eh?


  1. […] consisted of visiting Casa Batlló and Casa Mila or known to the locals as La Pedrera. I found this article online of Gaudi’s numerous creations in Barcelona and if you don’t know much about his […]

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