Gaudi’s Barcelona

Thursday, 29th April 2010 by

Antonio Gaudi was a Spanish architect who created a number of unique Modernist buildings in the city of Barcelona. His creations were awarded World Heritage status and many are now visible on Street View.

His most famous creation is the Sagrada Família1, a vast and complex Roman Catholic Church that has been under construction now for 128 years!

Sagrada Família

Work started on the building in 1882 and is currently projected to finish in 2026, a full century after Gaudi’s death and subsequent burial within the confines of his masterwork. The 18 towers designed for the structure represent – in increasing height – the twelve Apostles, the four Evangelists, the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ.

The rear of the building gives a clear look at the intricate detail as well as the contrast between old and new construction.

Sagrada Família

The ongoing construction hasn’t impeded the Sagrada Família’s status as a tourist destination, with more than 2 million people visiting each year. And, taking a huge step forward, part of the building will be opened for public worship later this year, with consecration by the Pope scheduled for November. Bing’s Bird’s Eye view also gives us a good look at the structure:

Sagrada Família

Gaudi was also commissioned to design a number of homes for some of Barcelona’s wealthier residents.

With distinct Moorish influences, Casa Vicens was one of Gaudi’s earliest major designs.

Casa Vicens Casa Vicens

Gaudi designed the ceramic tiles which were then manufactured by the merchant who commissioned the house.

It remains a private home so cannot be visited by the public, unlike Palau Güell, for which Street View shows a lineup of visitors along the narrow street.

Palau Güell Palau Güell

While the ornate iron gates aren’t visible (one is open for the visitors to enter, the other hidden by construction), the elaborate street-level decor can be seen, and looking up gives a good view of the whole building which was comissioned by wealthy industrialist Eusebi Güell.

Palau Güell Palau Güell

Casa Calvet has a more conventional design, a result of its location in a historic part of the city (and the fact that it is sandwiched between two similar homes), though Gaudi did manage to include a few intricate touches on the higher reaches of the building.

Casa Calvet

Casa Batlló goes to the other extreme – a riot of organic shapes and colourful, intricate mosaics.

Casa Batlló Casa Batlló

Locally known as the House of Bones for its skeletal forms, the design is also considered to pay homage to the story of St George and the dragon.

Casa Milà is a larger structure but is similarly adorned with many whimsical elements, including elaborate chimneys and rooftop terraces.

Casa Milà

The property had fallen into disrepair over the decades, but has been restored since the allocation of World Heritage status.

Gaudi was also commissioned to design Park Güell – a housing and garden complex proposed by Eusebi Güell – the elaborate entrance of which can be seen on Street View.

Park Güell

While work on the garden progressed, the housing development failed, with only 2 residences being completed. Gaudi and his family lived in one for a time, despite the fact the he hadn’t actually worked on that particular building.

The tranquil park is dominated by the large terrace which is surrounded by an undulating bench – the undulations apparently inspired by the impression left by a workman’s naked posterior in wet cement!

Park Güell

I’m not sure if the white-statue-busker at the entrance is portraying Gaudi, but he is worth a closer look anyway!

Park Güell

Information about all these locations can be found at Gaudi’s Wikipedia page, while the Great Buildings site has many excellent photos.

  1. Visited by Google Sightseeing briefly in 2005, and again in 2008 with the launch of Street View in Spain.