Barcelona, a unique metropolis in Spain, unlike any other city on the Iberian Peninsula and a fascinating destination indeed, and the work of Antoni Gaudí makes it even more special. Second only in size to its slightly stuffier sister city, Madrid, Barcelona vies for top popularity with tourists worldwide. It is also the sixth most populated city in the EU, trailing after Paris, London, Madrid, the Ruhr area and lovely Milan.
The city is a cultural mix of many different nationalities, and on every corner can be heard a different foreign language, along with the traditional Spanish and Catalan of the native population.
The following video gives an excellent “Flow-Motion” tour of the city where many of the city’s fascinating buildings can be seen.
One aspect that makes the city so unique and so different from other cities in Spain is the fact that Barcelona houses the most incredible architecture by the well-known genius, Antoni Gaudí. Below, the most famous of his works are discussed.
At around the turn of the century, there was a battle among the richer families in Barcelona, where everyone tried to out-do the others with the exceptional styling and architecture of their homes. It was a definite case of “keep up with the Joneses.”
The last of the architects to get involved in this ongoing battle, Gaudí felt the pressure on him to go one step further than any architect had ever gone before.
The area of Barcelona is named L’Eixample and it also became known as the “block of discord” while the fierce competition raged.
Set in this area, Casa Battló is one such creation from the mind of Gaudí. At the outset, Gaudí was commissioned by the textile magnate, Josep Batlló, to demolish the rather plain and boring original building and to design and build a brand-new masterpiece.
However, Gaudí saw potential in the original building and persuaded the owner to allow him to create a true Modernist masterpiece, which still stands in all its glory today.
The façade of the building resembles the waves of a calm ocean and the roof tiles look rather like the scales of a dragon or other mythical beast. Various pillars supporting the windows resemble human leg bones. (See the image above right).
The chimneys on the roof are an exceptional feature, covered in multi-colored mosaic from pieces of colorful tile in the iconic Gaudí style. The resulting masterpiece stunned and delighted both the posher residents of the area along with the general hoi polloi of the city.
Casa Milà (La Pedrera), located a short walk from Casa Batlló is another example of the brilliance of Gaudí’s designs.
During the late 19th century and early 20th century, the industrialist giant, Pere Milà commissioned Gaudí to create a brand-new building on the boundary between Gràcia and Barcelona.
Intended as both a family home and to be leased as separate apartments, the building ended up being nick-named La Pedrera (the stone quarry), because the façade of the house appears to have been carved from solid rock. The building was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCA back in 1984.
Throughout the building, sinuous curves can be seen, as Gaudí was not fond of straight lines. The original furniture, also designed by Gaudí can be seen in the main apartment inside the house.
What makes this building really stand out, however, are the very imaginative chimneys and roof features which can be seen on top. It is believed that these roof features inspired George Lucas when he was busy creating the characters in the famous Star Wars movies, and it is very easy to see why this could be true.
Next stop on a tour of Gaudí’s fantastical creations is Parque Güell (or Güell Park). Originally intended to be a residential town, this area of the upper side of Barcelona ended up being a wonderful public park.
Almost like a fairyland to view, on entering, visitors pass between two “Gingerbread” houses and then head up the steps where the famous “el drac” (the dragon, or salamander) statue stands.
With magnificent views right across the city of Barcelona to the mountains and the ocean, there are many restful spots to relax, catch one’s breath and enjoy. From here it is possible to see the unique destination of Barcelona, Spain from the viewpoint of Antoni Gaudí in all its glory, surrounded by his genius.
There is one former residential home in the park, however, which has been converted to become Casa Museu Gaudí. Gaudí himself lived in the house between 1906 and 1925, leaving one year before his death. The house now acts as an interesting display of Gaudí’s furniture, his drawings and sketches.
Probably Gaudí’s most iconic and famous work is the still incomplete “Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família” or for short, in English, the Temple of the Sacred Family.
The architects Martorell and De Villar started construction on this enigmatic building back in 1882 and then Gaudí took over the project in 1891. While a lot of the original design remains, Gaudí’s signature can be seen throughout the building as it stands today.
Gaudí sadly passed away back in 1926 but the work still continues. The building has already been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and back in November 2010 was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI.
The very imaginative video below shows what this magnificent construction will look like on its completion and the Barcelona in “Flow-Motion” video included above takes one inside the enigmatic building.
There are many more examples of the work of Antoni Gaudí to be seen in the fascinating and unique city in Barcelona in the Catalonia region of Spain, a destination of constant fascination to which visitors return over and over again.
By Anne Sewell