Antoni Gaudì (1852-1926) was a leading light of the Modernista or Modernist Movement, and I focused my exploration of Barcelona to take in several of his masterpieces. In addition to Gaudì, Barcelona and Catalonia have given rise to many gifted artists, architects, and visionaries including Joan Miró and Salvador Dali.
First Stop: Gaudì Exhibition Center in Barcelona
This museum and exhibition center, at the edge of the Gothic Quarter, offers a fuller understanding of Gaudi’s life in Barcelona, as well as the general arc of his artistic development, over three floors of exhibits. Temporary exhibits enhance the experience, as well. Some of the items in this collection include faithful copies of items from the artist’s various creations, so it’s a great spot to start with if you have limited time.
Hours: April through September 10 am – 8 pm daily; March and October 10 am – 7 pm daily; November through February 10 am – 6 pm; Admission: General 15 Euro, Under 8 free, some discounted admissions; Location: Pla de la Seu, 7 (In front of the Cathedral of Barcelona); gaudiexhibitioncenter.com
Second Stop: A Gaudì-built house – Casa Vicens
Gaudi’s first complete house build in Barcelona, Casa Vicens anticipated and helped define Modernism. Many consider this creation to be Gaudi’s manifesto on how art, architecture, and the natural world do and should complement and echo each other – indeed the construction, symbols, and decorations were repeated, enhanced, and echoed throughout Gaudì’s career. The exhibits include Gaudì’s early writings as well as audiovisuals providing context. The ground and first floors showcase the house as originally designed, executed, and furnished. The basement houses a specialty bookshop, and the top floor contains both parts of the permanent exhibition as well as temporary exhibits. The rooftop is open for viewing, as well.
Hours: April through mid-October – 10 am until 8 pm daily; mid-October through end of March – 10 am until 3 pm Mondays, 10 am until 7 pm Tuesday-Sunday Admission: General – 16 euro, Ages 12-25 – 12 euro, Under 12 – free, Over 65, Member of Large Family, and Disabled – 14 euro. Location: Carrer de les Carolines, 20-26, 08012 Barcelona; casavicens.org
Third Stop: Casa Mila/La Pedrera
Visiting La Pedrera (The Quarry), the last private residence designed by Antoni Gaudì in Barcelona, rewards one with an understanding of the architect’s growth and change throughout his career, from the creation of the Modernism aesthetic to the movement’s evolution throughout the intervening years. Exploring all 5 floors of exhibits, from the glorious rooftop down to the ground floor, takes as much (or as little) time as you wish. The attic has exceptional scale models of both Casa Mila as well as a few other of Gaudì’s masterpieces. The apartments are furnished and decorated as they were when the building was first completed in 1912, and offer a glimpse into period life as well as into Gaudì’s decorative style and attention to detail. While exploring the roof and it’s beautiful and unusual decorations, one can glimpse Sagrada Familia, Gaudì’s almost completed cathedral.
Hours: March through early November – 9 am until 8:30 pm daily, November through February – 9 am until 6:30 pm daily. Special holiday hours. Night tours available year-round; Admission: General – 22 euro, Ages 7-12 – 11 euro, Under 7 – free. Enhanced ticket options available. Location: Passeig de Gràcia, 92, 08008, Barcelona; lapedrera.com
Fourth Stop: La Sagrada Familia – Gaudì’s crowning masterpiece in Barcelona
Construction on Sagrada Familia began in 1892, but this breathtakingly beautiful cathedral won’t be completed until 2026, 100 years after Gaudì died at the age of 74 (after being hit by a trolley), and 144 years after the first stone was laid. Considered by many to be Gaudì’s masterpiece in Barcelona, the cathedral is a soaring tribute to God and seems to defy gravity. If you want to see this incredible creation, book your tickets early – availability is limited. Tickets come with a variety of perks – most expensive includes an audio tour as well as access to one of the towers (nope – you needn’t walk up the tower, but you will need to walk down the tower after the lift up), while the least expensive is access to the building only.
Hours: November through February: 9 am to 6 pm; March and October: 9 am to 7 pm; April through September: 9 am to 8 pm; Admission: Adult – 17-32 euros, 12-30 – 2 euro discount, Seniors and disabled receive a discount, as well, 11 and under – free; Location: Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013, Barcelona; sagradafamilia.org
Final Stop in my Gaudì in Barcelona tour: Park Guell
This park was executed at the request of the artist-architect’s longtime patron-turned-friend Güell, originally as the entrance to a patrician housing development Güell planned. The development, originally to hold 60 houses, was unfeasible, and wound up with only 2 houses built, in addition to Güell’s house. The entrance, aqueducts, and more of what was to be the development infrastructure create a whimsical, colorful, and otherworldly park area. Note that timed tickets are required for the Restricted Area of the park, with the emblematic features designed by Gaudì, and include a return bus ticket from Underground Stop Alfons X.
Hours: Spring – 8:30 am until 8:30 pm, Spring/Summer – 8 am until 9:30 pm, Autumn/Winter – 8:30 am until 6:15/7 pm; Admission: Adult – 10 euro, 7-12/65+/disabled – 7 euro, Under 7-free; Location: Carrer D’Olot, 08024, Barcelona; parkguell.barcelona
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