A Quick Guide to Antoni Gaudi Barcelona

antoni gaudi photograph

Antoni Gaudi 

If you’ve spent some time in Spain, you’ve probably heard of Antoni Gaudi, often hailed as the most illustrious architect in Barcelona. Although it’s been almost a century since he passed on, the city still owes its stunning beauty to his surreal masterpieces, which have lured in hordes of tourists and locals for decades.

It’s not unusual to find Barcelona’s host of architects trying to replicate Antoni Gaudi’s works. Unfortunately, they have all failed terribly because this Calatan legend’s soft spot for modernism, natural design, and extravagance saw him build a legacy no one has been able to match up to.

This guide discusses Antoni Gaudi’s grand style, which transformed Barcelona’s architectural landscape, some of his iconic creations, and several intriguing and unexpected facts about him. But let’s first dive into his bio briefly so you understand a few points that helped shape his life.  

Antoni Gaudi top tourist attractions in Barcelona

The History of Antoni Gaudi 

Antoni Gaudi was born to Francesc Gaudí and Antònia Cornet on June 25, 1852, in Reus, Catalonia. As a sickly child living with rheumatism, solitude was his allegiant partner. He mostly stuck out like a sore thumb, and the idea of going outdoors to play with his agemates didn’t sit well with him. 

Given Gaudi’s difficult childhood, no one would have envisioned that becoming the face of Catalan surrealist architecture was in the cards for him. However, his loneliness turned out to be advantageous since it thrust him into nature, which later played a pivotal role in his journey as Barcelona’s unsung architectural hero.

1875 marked the start of Gaudi’s four years of mandatory military service. But his poor health only let him stay indoors on most days, so he went to the Provincial School of Architecture and invested a lot of time in supercharging his design skills, which were already off the charts. Intriguingly, he wasn’t among his class’ top performers, even though he eventually graduated in 1878. 

Still, in 1878, Gaudi attended the Paris World’s Fair to showcase his first architectural design, a display case, and the rest is now history!

antoni gaudi casa milan

What Characterizes the Works of Antoni Gaudi?

Gaudi’s architectural works are defined by a raft of unique features, such as the following. 

Multiple Colors and Textures 

Gaudi’s buildings are exuberant and colorful – we’re talking about structures with stained glass and ceramic mosaic tiles with many vivid shades. And he had this unique, surprising way of blending materials like sandstone and wrought iron to form the most exquisite finishings.

Religious Artwork 

Gaudi was a big fan of the Roman Catholic tradition and didn’t hesitate to show it in his works. Biblical imagery was a key part of his building décor. Combined with his extensive faith in religion and boundless imagination, his peers couldn’t help but dub him “God’s architect”. 

Natural Properties 

Even as a child, Gaudi was fascinated by nature. That’s why today, most of his works are characterized by visible echoes of plants, animals, and other aspects mimicking the things you’re likely to encounter while in the wilds or outdoors. 

For instance, Gaudi’s Park Güell, one of Barcelona’s most stunning destinations, comes with a colorful lizard. 

antoni gaudi calved a monk into sagrada familia

Top 4 Classic Buildings Designed by Antoni Gaudi

For many in Barcelona, Gaudi is the unofficial saint who dedicated his life to redefining Catalan architecture. Did you know that at least four out of the top ten marvels in the city are buildings that he designed? These include: 

Casa Vicens Gaudí 

Casa Vicens has clinched its spot in the annals of history as Gaudi’s first major project and his summer residence. Now a museum and treasured masterpiece of Modernism, it welcomes millions of the architect’s enthusiasts who fancy viewing his incomparable talent and immense love for nature. 

If you’re heading to Casa Vicens from Barcelona Airport (BCN), consider taking a taxi, which will take 17 minutes to arrive at the museum. You can also use the bus or subway, but you’ll get there in 50 minutes.

Casa Milà 

You might know Casa Milà as “The Stone Quarry” or La Pedrera. It’s the last Modernista private residence Gaudi ever designed and is now used for cultural, social, and residential purposes. When creating it, the Catalan icon went for vivid decorative curves and shapes, which most critics deemed unusual and absurd. 

At some point, Gaudi nearly gave up on Casa Milà. People’s harsh criticism almost got to him, and since its height exceeded what the local government recommended, it came close to demolition. But thanks to his resilience, Barcelona now has one of the most revered pieces of civic architecture.

Casa Milà conveniently sits near many spectacular landmarks, including Casa Ramon Casas and Casa Enric Batlló. Consider Casa Codina for the best accommodation – it’s only 16 minutes away. 

La Sagrada Família

The Sagrada Família’s foundation was laid in 1882, but this enchanting basilica is yet to be finished. If you’re well versed in its history, you might already know it’s the largest incomplete Catholic church worldwide.

And here’s the most interesting part – Gaudi knew he wouldn’t live long enough to oversee the building’s full construction. Therefore, he left behind comprehensive designs to help the architects who would. So why is the job still not yet done? 

Nevertheless, over 2.8M people make their way to Barcelona every year just to catch a glimpse of the Sagrada Família. The must-see things include the crypt, the Passion façade, and the breathtaking Sagrada Família ceiling.

Palace of Gaudì Astorga

Featuring a Catalan Modernisme style, the Palace of Gaudì Astorga (Palacio Episcopal de Astorga) ranks high in most people’s “best Antoni Gaudi’s works” hall of fame. Tickets to the historical building vary and can be as cheap as €6.00. 

Note that although Gaudi designed the structure himself in 1887, it was Ricardo García Guereta, another popular Spanish architect, who saw its completion in the early 20th century.

antoni gaudi ceiling of the sagrada familia
antoni gaudi classic lizard

Interesting Facts You Didn’t Know about Antoni Gaudi

Most people know Gaudi for the magnificent structures he designed in Barcelona and its nearby areas. But much about his existence remains a mystery many haven’t uncovered. Check out these fascinating facts about the father of Catalan Modernism, or what you may refer to as Art Nouveau and modernisme – some will definitely surprise you.

  • Despite his unrivaled success in the field of architecture, Gaudi died single; rumor has it the women he loved turned him down, which is a shocker because let’s be honest, he’d have been a great match for any lady.

  • He was a sucker for dapper clothing in his youth.

  • People mistook him for a homeless vagrant when a tram struck him in June 1926, causing his death three days later.

  • He was a vegetarian.

  • He was a staunch catholic.

  • His works were recognized in Spain in the 1950s, over two decades after his tragic demise.

  • UNESCO has now declared seven of his works as World Heritage Sites.
antoni gaudi mosaic

That’s it for our quick guide to Antoni Gaudi we hope you are a little bit wiser! If you want to know more about Barcelona before you come please have a look through the rest of our blog by click here. If you have any feedback or want us to write about anything please get in touch and let us know!

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