I have always had a love for Art since I was young, I studied it up to A-level at school due to my fascination with the likes of Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso and Antoni Gaudi. I like art with a difference, lots of colour and abnormal shapes, pieces or places that send a strong message to the world. Everyone can love ‘Art’ as I believe as each persons depiction of a piece is individual to them!
Barcelona has always been a must visit for myself, I knew I would visit at some point in my life. A perfect excuse appeared when a few months back I saw cheap flights on Easyjet’ site, I immediately booked them for October. With a small amount of pre planning, mainly the tickets to Gaudi’ famous works, I was packed and off to Catalonia!!
On arrival in Barcelona my main wish was to see as much Gaudi as I could, my husband accompanied me on this city break and wasn’t as thrilled at the prospect… Our hotel the SB Glow in Glories gave us our first Gaudi sight, the Sagrada Familia not too far in the distance. After some rest the first full day was planned through our tickets, a tour of Sagrada Familia in the morning and the afternoon at Park Guell, with entry to the municipal area and Gaudi House Museum! After taking the metro to the Sagrada Familia stop we were very early and decided to grab some breakfast at a nearby cafe, as with the tickets you pick a time slot to enter. After breakfast I thought it would be nice to take in the Sagrada Familia for all sides, taking pictures galore and marvelling at the detail. If you walk directly over the road from the entrance at the front you will see a park, you can get some great pictures from there with a fuller view! Our time slot was 10 am and we simply handed our tickets to be scanned, along with a quick bag check we were ushered to get our headsets for the audio tour.
Once inside the Sagrada Familia I immediately wowed at the sight, it was out of this world! All I could do was look up, it was the ceilings that astounded me. It felt like I had entered another world and left reality at the door. As I wandered around listening to the audio, trying to take everything in and trying to understand how Antoni Gaudi had imagined this in his head, more extraordinary was how he had made it come to life!
The Sagrada Familia is a giant basilica and it was Antoni Gaudi life’s work, he spent 43 years on it from 1883 till his death in 1926. He even moved in at the later stages of his life to spend his whole time working. It’s style is ‘spanish gothic with art nouveau and catalan modernism’, Gaudi’s architectural work was described as a “gothic naturalism” The inside is meant to represent nature and the feeling of standing underneath a ‘majestic forest’ from the ceiling in the main chamber of the church, as you can see turtles, fruit, trees and more went into the inspiration of his work here. I feel the saddest part is that Gaudi cannot witness the continuing works and see the final stages of his work, even though he left his plans for others to be guided by. All money from the tickets here goes to the ongoing works.
After touring the whole basilica, to gazing down at Gaudi’ tomb from above, taking in the museum area and looking into the workshop with workers busy at work, now in the final phase of construction with the completion expected in 2026, 100 years after Gaudi’ death. I was so pleased to have captured my first look at his greatest masterpiece! Now, onto the next…
Park Guell pronounced Park Gwell, was about a 30/40 minute walk away, although you could get a bus or metro there, as it was such a lovely day we walked and took in the city. The park is a “public park and gardens, with architectonic elements” located on Carmel Hill and is in the Gracia district of Barcelona. It was opened to the public in 1926 as a park and in 1984 declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to Antoni Gaudi’s Works. On arrival again it was easy to enter, we had a 1pm time slot and a 2pm as it was just before 12 we wandered around the free part of the park which is huge!!! You can spend hours here and we did. The views of Barcelona city and the coastline are great and there are plenty of facilities inside, toilets, a cafe and shop etc. I wasn’t too sure what to expect from the municipal park of Park Guell, when our slot opened we took a place in the queue and were ushered in. Well, you certainly knew you had entered Antoni Gaudi’s world! From carvings into the rock, to coloured lizards and amazing tile work, this certainly was a magical park with amazing sculptures. Again it felt like I had left reality and was now enjoying another Gaudi journey that was going to thrill and excite my mind. Park Guell is perfect for any age, it reminds me of disneyland but for the art and architecture world! The municipal area was very busy I won’t lie, but you have to see it and experience it just don’t expect a perfect picture!! After exploring this area, we were hungry and went to the cafe where I had the nicest smoked salmon bagel and a cold drink as it was warm. With our feet well rested we went to find the Gaudi House Museum.
Gaudi House Museum is located within Park Guell and was Antoni Gaudi i Cornet’s home for 20 years from 1906 till his death. He chose this house as he had a perfect view of Barcelona and more importantly Sagrada Familia, to which he was working on, this house gave him the ideal location and watchpoint to see the changes in both the basilica and the city itself! Again I would recommend you take a visit around his home as I like to get an understanding of people in both their life and work as it gives you a better insight in the person! You can go into all parts of the home and look out at the views from the windows and take a walk in his front garden too.
The house wasn’t meant to be Gaudi’s it was a show home for the Park Guell residential project, that didn’t work out. After Antoni Gaudi died, the house was privately owned and on September 28 th 1963 it was opened as the Gaudi House Museum. In 1992 the La Sagrada Familia Foundation bought the home and have refurbished it to help portray a better understanding of Gaudi and the time he lived there.
I also visited La Pedrera also known as Casa Mila and Casa Batllo again both Gaudi buildings. Both are located on Passeig de Gracia, in central Barcelona. After finally finding these two buildings near each other, it was time to explore! Casa Batllo is certainly a show stopper, the colours and detail are what strike you first. Skulls and bones are the theme, as the skulls are the balconies and the bones are the pillars that support. Gaudi’s inspiration for Casa Batllo was from ‘marine life’ and that is why the front of the building is meant to represent coral, in the colours used. The building was designed for Josep Batllo by Antoni Gaudi for his family home and apartments above.
La Pedrera as it is known by most people is called Casa Mila or “open quarry”, this is due to its look, unusual construction and rough appearance as a modernist building. Gaudi took 6 years to build it between 1906-1912 and the building has had several awards for it’s uniqueness and artistic value including. In 1984 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today it is a cultural centre and is still known to be Antoni Gaudi’s most ambitious works! I love the shape of the building, I think it gives the feeling of movement and it certainly leaves an impact on you. Inside the main focal point for myself is the ceilings, a true work of art and I salute you Mr Gaudi! I took a chance to visit the cafe at La Pedrera and it is a delight, you sit and marvel whilst enjoying a coffee or food. Make sure you add these two greats to your must see list in Barcelona!
Since I have returned home I have read Origin by Dan Brown, I now see Sagrada Familia and La Pedrera in a different light, as I read about these places I had just visited it gave me a much clearer picture of the story and now all I can imagine is Tom Hanks as Professor Langdon running around Barcelona into the basilica and up onto the roof of La Pedrera, don’t worry I won’t spoil it!
Antoni Gaudi’s style has always been favoured by me, however since I have seen his life works for my own eyes in Barcelona my admiration for him has gone up a few notches! I loved all the places I visited, Park Guell was however my favourite. Due to it’s open spaces and different shapes, colour and sculptures it grabbed my attention for the full time I was there. Along with the Gaudi House Museum and municipal area it encapsulated Gaudi for me. Go and experience it for yourself!