If you’re ready to witness architectural genius, here is a brief guide to the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona.
In every age, there is someone who redefines their field of work; someone whose vision is leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else; someone whose work and style are definitive and, ultimately, influential. Michelangelo, Botticelli, Shakespeare, Mozart, Picasso, Prince.
Catalan-born Antoni Gaudi is among them. When Gaudi was 18, he graduated from high school. The school’s headmaster remarked about the young Gaudi, “We awarded the diploma to a madman or a genius. Time will tell.” He’s often lumped in with the Art Nouveau movement of the early 20th century, but he really has a style all his own. He put his indelible stamp on Barcelona with a small handful of stop-you-in-your-tracks structures that are like nothing else.
Today a visitor to Barcelona can spend a couple of days traversing the city to marvel at the works of Antoni Gaudi. His marvelous masterpieces don’t just cause passersby to do a double take. They stop you, jolt you out of a daydream, and take you captive.
6 Must-See Gaudi Buildings in Barcelona
This structure is not only the most iconic of the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona, Sagrada Familia is one of the most recognizable in Europe. It’s also unfinished. Construction of the church began in 1882. When Guadi died in 1926, only a quarter of it was finished. In 2010, construction reached the halfway point. But it has been speeding up: it is currently estimated it will be finished in 2026. For those not keeping score, that’s 144 years in the making.
The architect was inspired by what he saw in nature. And this is evident once you stand inside the structure and look up. Pillars are like sturdy trees sprouting toward the heavens. As you may notice, there are very few straight lines and sharp angles in the design of the church. That’s because, as Gaudi put it, there are no straight lines and angles in nature, so there shouldn’t be in his work, either.
The church has 12 towers. The tallest one, in the very center of the church, represents Jesus. When it is finished, it will make La Sagrada Familia the tallest church in Europe at 560 feet. Sagrada Familia is the most visited monument in all of Spain.
Built in the first decade and a half of the 20th century, Park Güell is a 45-acre expanse of green and bizarre mosaics overlooking Barcelona. The colorful terrace is the most picturesque part of the park, which not only has stunning views of the city, but has a mosaic-clad bench in the form of a giant snake. The park teems with iconography, everything from references to Catalan nationalism to religious symbols.
Originally, they envisioned the park as a residence for the city’s affluent set and the owner of the land, Palau Güell had intended to build and sell residences on the site. They constructed only two of the dozen or so and today you can still marvel at the Gaudi-designed structures in the park.
La Pedrera (Casa Milà)
The apartment building formerly known as Casa Milà is a Gaudi masterpiece. Located in L’Eixample, the building’s undulating, curving facade evokes a seaside cliff, characteristic of Gaudi philosophy that architecture is best when it references the natural world. The 33 wavy, wrought-iron balconies further elucidate the emphasis on nature.
The businessman who commissioned Gaudi to design the building was Pere Milà and he had married into a fortune. Milà was one of the first people in Barcelona to own an automobile, so Gaudi designed the building with an inside parking space, a first for the architect.
Visitors are welcome at La Pedrera. There are a variety of tours you can take, including visits at night and at sunset.
Built in the first decade of the 20th century, Casa Batlló looks looks like it just landed from some kind of fairy tale dimension Some locals have nicknamed the Eixample apartment building as Casa del Drac, house of the dragon, and Casa del Ossos, house of bones. Once you stop and marvel at this building, you’ll understand why. Dreamy waves, vaguely gothic-looking arches, and convex walls and windows characterize the facade and exterior. The roof has twisted tiled chimneys, a chief element of Gaudi’s style. The building is simply the pinnacle of Gaudi’s creative universe.
There are different types of tours available, including a morning tour when the building is mostly devoid of other visitors. Check out our Complete Gaudi Tour for more info.
When you first lay eyes on Casa Vicens, it would be understandable if you rubbed your eyes or squinted, thinking that the building is out of focus or pixilated or even made out of legos. The brightly colorful building with jagged balconies was the first of the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona. The young architect was just 30 years old when he began the three-year project. Today it is one of his lesser-visited buildings and it only opened to the public in 2017.
If you’ve already become accustomed to the undulating waves and curves of La Perdrera and Casa Batllo, for example, you might not recognize the Gaudi style right away at Casa Vicens. The building is a bit more geometric, symmetrical, and has—gasp—some actual straight lines.
There are various tours you can take of Casa Vicens, including an intriguing 90-minute, small-group olfactory tour.
Located in Eixample, Casa Calvet is one of the most conventional of the Gaudi buildings in Barcelona. It might not overwhelm you like some of his other buildings, but if you’re doing a tour in the neighborhood, it’s worth passing by this one. They erected the building in 1899 and a year later the Barcelona City Council awarded it “building of the year”. The stone facade is broken up by wrought-iron balconies, a typical Gaudi feature. It’s worth seeing Casa Calvet just to put the architects evolving style into perspective.
Experience Gaudí’s masterpieces with a local expert on our Complete Gaudí Tour! You’ll explore Casa Batlló or Casa Vicens without the crowds, as well see Casa Milà, Park Güell, and La Sagrada Familia.