No visit to Barcelona would be complete without examining the unique creations of its renowned architect, Antonio Gaudi. His masterpiece is the basilica known as La Sagrada Familia. This evolving icon has been under construction since 1882, with an anticipated completion date of 2026 to mark the centenary of Gaudi’s death. Dominating the city’s landscape, the extraordinary edifice elicits both admiration and derision but stands out as unforgettable amidst the multitude of churches in Europe.
With its soaring ochre spires and dramatic facades bursting with fantastical plant, animal, and religious carvings, La Segrada Familia fuses form and symbolism to capture the birth, death and future glory of Jesus Christ.
Gaudi’s whimsical artistry is also evident at Park Guell. Originally intended as a housing development for well-to-do families, this public park has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I feel like Alice in Wonderland while wandering through a fairy tale world of gingerbread houses, sweeping staircases and covered walkways festooned with brightly coloured ceramics and fanciful creatures. There is even a small, quaint structure, now known as the Gaudi House Museum, where the architect lived from 1906 to 1925.
The residential building La Pedrera/Casa Mila offers another example of Gaudi’s highly imaginative style. Its limestone walls resemble undulating waves, festooned with lacy black iron balconies and crowned with chimneys reminiscent of twisted, standing soldiers.
Nearby, Casa Batllo’s extravagantly ornamented façade immediately catches the eye of passers-by. Vine-like curves, animal shapes, scales and bony skeletons intertwine to produce a phantasmal creature that glows with a riot of colour. Built in 1877, this conventional house was totally restored and reimagined by Gaudi in 1904, and selected by Barcelona City Council as one of the best works of 1906. Like him or hate him, Antonio Gaudi is synonymous with the unique city of Barcelona and remains one of her favourite sons.