Barcelona is known as the city of Antoni Gaudi, the Catalan architect who brought nature and life into his buildings. He is my favorite architect and one that I have come to admire greatly each time I see his work. While planning our trip to Barcelona I made sure that a few of Gaudi’s works would be on our itinerary. Having already visited Casa Mila twice, I asked R if we could visit a different Gaudi residence, Casa Batlló, just a few blocks south of Casa Mila on Passeig de Gracia.
Strolling along Passeig de Gracia you are transported back in time to the early 1900s when this major avenue was the showcase for Barcelona’s bourgeoisie. Today it remains as one of the most expensive streets in the city and has become an impressive shopping and business area as well as an architectural playground. Although there are many beautiful and unique façades along the avenue, Casa Batlló’s marine inspired façade stands out among the rest. I could hardly wait to go inside and see another of Gaudi’s buildings for myself.
The line to get in was short, thankfully, since it was the first morning of the New Year and most people were still asleep after celebrating all night. Yes, I was one of the few who didn’t sleep in and dragged R out of bed that morning with me to go see Gaudi’s work. But it was so worth it. Once inside you are immersed in Gaudi’s imagination. Every curve and detail flows together in unison and I can only imagine what it must have been like to see this building being built. Gaudi played with the natural light and color through the use of stained glass windows and a light well in the center of the house. As you ascend to the rooftop the blue tiles in the light well become a darker shade of blue, as though you are about to resurface from the ocean.
Casa Batlló has become one of my favorite works done by Gaudi, I feel as though I could spend hours in each room, studying every ornamentation. From a colorful façade to the unique elements inside, Casa Batlló is a masterpiece. As I write this I realize that many may argue with me about which of Gaudi’s works is the true masterpiece. I am sure many believe that his best work is the Sagrada Família, the beautiful basilica that has been rising over Barcelona’s skyline since 1882 and also on our Gaudi itinerary.
Popping out of the metro station at Sagrada Família, R and I both had to stop for a moment and take in the view of the basilica. You don’t realize just how large the towers are until you stand right underneath them. Taking it in for only a quick minute we hurried to the other side of the park to meet with our tour group. I highly recommend booking a tour ahead of time to get into the Sagrada Família. Not only will you get inside without having to wait in the long line but you will also be introduced to the building and its history by an informative guide.
Once we checked in with the tour our guide lead us to the front of the basilica, the nativity façade at the main entrance. This façade was completed while Gaudi was still alive and illustrates the birth of Jesus. Gaudi believed that this façade should be done first because of how ornamental and richly decorated it is as opposed to the rear façade that illustrates the death of Jesus. Had they begun with such a bare and negative façade the people would have rejected it he said. And I could not agree with him more, the nativity façade has various stories and parts to it that you could spend days studying each statue and detail. Because this façade was completed over a hundred years ago it has weathered in color and parts have been destroyed. The newer towers and exterior pieces that have been fixed are a lighter color. Once the entire basilica is complete they will go back and clean the limestone to make it all look new.
As you walk inside be prepared to be blown away by the soaring columns and stained glass windows that light up the basilica with color. If you have visited European cathedrals you know how beautifully ornate they are but nothing I have seen compares to the Sagrada Família. The sun enters through the stained glass windows throughout each hour of the day changing the light and atmosphere. It truly is a unique space and what amazes me the most is how Gaudi could have designed such a structure so many decades ago. There are no words for such a space and I hope my photos do it justice.
So yes, I will agree the Sagrada Família is an incredible work designed by Gaudi even if I did fall in love with Casa Batlló. Both projects are vastly differently in design and scale but have the true Gaudi characteristics. I can’t wait to see the Sagrada Família once it is complete. Currently 70% of the basilica is done as they work on the six central towers. This year marks 135 years since the first stone was laid down and construction began. It is predicted that the Sagrada Família will be finished in 2026, R and I are already planning to return.
The work of Gaudi will forever fascinate me as I visit each of his buildings. His brilliance and design cannot be compared to any other architect in my opinion and each work is a masterpiece within itself. If you ever are in Barcelona you must visit the Sagrada Família because every time you come it will be different as they work on completing it. I loved walking through each of the rooms at Casa Batlló and recommend stopping by to see for yourself. I know there are many Gaudi buildings to visit around the city and Catalonia but the Sagrada Família and Casa Batlló are my favorite.
Visit Casa Batlló
Address: Passeig de Gràcia, 43, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
Buy tickets here
Visit the Sagrada Família
Address: Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain
Buy tickets here
Tour we took: Priority Access Barcelona Sagrada Familia Tour
x the Adventurer
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