Barcelona is home to several of the most famous pieces of Antoni Gaudí's fairytale-like architecture, ranging from the fantastical to the grotesque. These very individual landmarks include his masterpiece, the Sagrada Família, which is one of the most visited monuments in Spain.
Gaudí's work pushed the boundaries of Catalan Modernism to create his own variation inspired by nature, and incorporating skilled crafts such as ceramics, stained glass, carpentry and wrought ironwork. My pick of Barcelona's five best Gaudí landmarks are:
1. Sagrada Familia
The Sagrada Familia, Barcelona's most visited attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a giant Roman Catholic church that is considered to be one of Gaudí's greatest works. Started in 1882, the structure is yet to be completed. His original design included 18 spires, although only eight have been built to date. Some visitors love it, and others find it quite grotesque – but either way it usually draws quite a reaction. If you have the time to queue up, you can catch a lift up the tower for some amazing, panoramic city views.
Location: Calle Mallorca
2. Casa Mila, or La Pedrera
Restored Casa Milà has been nicknamed La Pedrera ('The Quarry') thanks to its natural rock-like exterior. This unconventional apartment building is full of curved lines, pillars and arches, and the undulating balconies, irregular floor plans and varying height of ceilings create an unusual structure. The highlight is the rooftop terrace, an extraordinary space featuring a series of surreal chimneys that, along with the top floor and attic, is open to visitors.
Location: Passeig de Gràcia 92, Eixample district
3. Casa Batlló
The unconventional, imaginative façade of Casa Batlló looks as though it has been built from giant skulls (actually balconies) and bones (supporting pillars), using marine shapes and colours found in coral reefs. Designed as a home for a wealthy aristocrat, today visitors can explore inside and learn more about Gaudí's inspiration and architectural techniques.
Location: Passeig de Gràcia 43, Eixample district
4. Park Güell
This enchanting park on a hill overlooking Barcelona was built for Barcelona's aristocracy, and contains some quirky buildings, tiled sculptures and interesting pathways.
The vibrant Gaudí dragon fountain at the entrance to Park Güell is one of the park's best-known images, while at the highest point a terrace offers staggering views over Barcelona.
Well worth the uphill climb!
Location: On the hill of El Carmel, Gràcia district.
5. Casa Vicens
Less well-known than many of the architectural landmarks already mentioned, Casa Vicens is part of UNESCO's "Works of Antoni Gaudí" World Heritage Site, and is significant because it represents Gaudí's first important work (built between 1883 and 1889). This private family residence in the Gràcia district of Barcelona is not open to the public, but you can still admire its exterior – a rough red brick façade decorated with ceramics and topped off with Moorish towers.
Location: Carrer de les Carolines 24
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