Barcelona, the capital of the autonomous Spanish region of Cataluña, is famous for many things: sunny beaches, a mild Mediterranean climate, exotic cuisine, afternoon siestas and bold art and architecture. No other person has left his mark on the city quite like Barcelona’s favorite son, Antoni Gaudí. Visiting his many whimsical buildings is a must for any tourist to Barcelona. Below are three of the most famous and iconic sites, all definitely worth checking out.
Completed in 1910, Casa Milà (more commonly known as La Pedrera) is an apartment building in the upscale Eixample district, near many choice Barcelona hotels. It’s undulating stone façade is unmistakeable with intricate, wrought-iron balconies. Visitors can tour the interior courtyards and exhibitions on the fifth floor. Don’t miss the rooftop for amazing views of the city and some otherworldly ornamentation on the building itself. The chimneys resemble the helmets worn by the Storm Troopers in the Star Wars films, don’t they?
Parc Güell is one of the best places in the city to stroll, relax and admire more stunning architecture. Built between 1900 and 1914, Park Güell is another great example of the Barcelona modernist movement. Situated in the hilly Gràcia district, the park’s main gates are flanked by two buildings that resemble gingerbread houses. As you enter, you’ll see dual staircases leading to a pavilion. Up top are the city’s famous undulating benches covered in shattered ceramic tiles—a technique called trencadís, a trademark of Gaudí’s style. Don’t forget to pose for photo in front of the salamander halfway up the steps— it’s a mascot for the city.
Undoubtedly the most recognizable architectural marvel of Barcelona is La Sagrada Família basilica. Construction on the magnificent edifice began back in 1882 and is not expected to finish until 2026. The sandcastle-like pinnacles of the church contain internal spiral staircases, which you can climb for some spectacular vistas of the city and sparkling Mediterranean Sea. Inside the basilica, the pillars that support the roof were designed to resemble a forest, demonstrating the influence nature had on Gaudí’s imagination. When I was in Barcelona last, the roof above the nave had just been erected. Since then, the interior of the basilica has been completed in time for Pope Benedict XVI to consecrate it last year.
When traveling to Barcelona, there are lots of great options for cheap hotels. The city has a terrific metro system so you’re never too far way from any of Gaudí’s magnificent works.
Have you been to Barcelona before? What were your impressions? Feel free to comment below!