Exploring Barcelona architecture and unearthing Gaudí’s genius

“Those who look for the laws of Nature as a support for their new works collaborate with the creator.” – Antoni Gaudi.

This is possibly the quote that best represents Gaudi’s work and philosophy, and undoubtedly the one that makes me his newest fan.

Exploring Barcelona with Gaudi
Casa Fuster, a masterpiece by Luis Domenech Montaner

My decision to go to Barcelona was influenced since the beginning by my curiosity towards Gaudí’s outlandish architectural style but, as a big fan of anything that has to do with Nature, finding out that he loved reproducing the shape of natural elements in his work made the trip even more intriguing.

I took a tour devoted to local architecture and the environment where Gaudí worked and his genius was shaped with Context Travel.

At 9.30 am I met art historian Biel Heredero Serra at the number 132 of picturesque Passeig de Gracia, in the city centre, near La Rambla and the beautiful La Boqueria market, where our journey through Barcelona’s controversial past and fascinating art started, Casa Fuster.

Our Barcelona architecture tour

Now a five-star hotel, Casa Fuster had been originally commissioned by the Fuster family to architect Luis Domenech Montaner, one of the greatest exponents of the “Modernisma” movement, as Catalans like to keep it, in its original language. The first element you will notice if you happen in front of this now luxurious hotel is its eclecticism, where gothic elements will sit side by side with Roman-looking columns and baroque-style details.

Book your Gaudi Tour in Barcelona with Take Walks to visit Casa Batlló, Park Guell and the Sagrada Familia

Exploring Barcelona with Gaudi
Front façade of Casa Comalat, work by Salvador Valeri i Pupurull

If you can spend some more time in the region and want to take a day trip from Barcelona, Montserrat offers a fascinating culture and a breathtaking landscape. Among the other places to visit in Spain, we suggest you don’t miss the gorgeous Andalusia region in cities like Cordoba, Granada, Seville and Cadiz. Also, if you want to know what to do in one day in Madrid, click here.

Before moving on to the next masterpiece, Biel made a step back in the past and told me that where we were standing that moment was actually a neighboring town, only later incorporated to Barcelona territory during the urban planning of the end of the 19th century, when the now-famous “Eixample” (Enlargement) was added to the beautiful Barrio Gotico (Gothic Quarter), the only initial district of the old city and one of the things to see even if you only have 2 days in Barcelona.

Our journey went on through the greatest masterpieces of Barcelona architecture that, like it or not, is unique the world over.

Image: Casa Comalat in Barcelona
Detail of the back façade of Casa Comalat, much more colourful than the front façade

After Casa Fuster, we stopped to admire Casa Comalat, a fantastic work by Salvador Valeri i Pupurull, clearly influenced by the organic shapes that inspired Gaudi himself. In fact, as soon as we saw Casa Comalat I thought it was Gaudi’s work. But as a matter of fact, we were passing by artistic styles, religious symbols, separatist movements, riots, fights for independence.

I knew something about the past battles between Catalonia and Castilian Spain, I just didn’t know they were still so alive in the public mind. And certainly, as Biel pointed out, “while before it was mainly cultural and social, now with the current economic crisis the struggle has acquired a whole new identity.”

Exploring Barcelona with Gaudi
On the roof of La Pedrera, or Casa Milà by Antoni Gaudi

The tour introduces the most important figures that have contributed to making Barcelona so beautiful and one of a kind, and tourists can consciously wander the streets of the city and enjoy names of the likes of Josep Puig i Cadafalch and his beautiful creation Casa Amatller, commissioned by chocolatier Amatller, just beside Gaudí’s surreal Casa Batlló, architect Antoni Rovira i Rabassa and the already mentioned Salvador Valeri i Pupurull and Luis Domenech Montaner.

Exploring Barcelona with Gaudi
“Recycling” broken bottles as house decorations at La Pedrera

Our Gaudi architecture tour

Before admiring the colours and the shapes of the front façade of Casa Batlló, our Gaudi architecture tour took us to explore Gaudi’s masterpiece, Casa Milà or, how locals like to name it, La Pedrera, at the number 92 of Passeig de Gràcia.

I can’t stress enough the importance of visiting La Pedrera for anyone who heads to Barcelona and wants to learn more about Gaudi.

Casa Milà is a house commissioned by entrepreneur Pere Milà and entirely designed by Gaudi, both the interiors and the exteriors. And you can easily see that as soon as you walk through the door.

Exploring Barcelona with Gaudi
One of the many artists drawing details of La Pedrera and far behind a glimpse of La Sagrada Familia

At the beginning of the 20th century, the district of the Eixample, that includes also Passeig de Gràcia, was considered the centre of Barcelona’s expansion, and this is where many of the best examples of “Modernisma“-style architecture were built.

On the ground floor of La Pedrera, where Caixa Catalunya, that bought it in 1986, set up a museum to explain Gaudi’s genius, I found out that the artist used to find inspiration in Mother Nature elements: human body, trees, shells and anything easily available on planet earth. In fact, don’t the columns of Casa Battlò look like human bones? And don’t the balconies of the same building look like skulls? As far as I’m concerned, Gaudi’s nature-connection is enough for making me like him.

Exploring Barcelona with Gaudi
Internal courtyard of La Pedrera

Mr Gaudi, as a proper artist, didn’t really have a very friendly personality, actually according to Biel was “quite grumpy and greedy”. “Do you know how he died?” he asked me as a proof of what he was talking about. “He was hit by a tram and was so sloppy that the police didn’t recognize him and mistook him for a homeless, hence since it was 1926 and social welfare didn’t really involve the indigent, the help didn’t come promptly. Of course, when they realized who he was, it was too late.”

After feeling outraged that it became a case only because the victim was Gaudi, I felt very saddened by his early and unnecessary death, and for all the unnecessary deaths that used to happen, and unfortunately still happen, this way.

Exploring Barcelona with Gaudi
Beautiful front façade of Gaudi’s Casa Batllò

Gaudi might have been grumpy, but he was a genius. Proudly, Biel made me notice the cheap material he used for the decorations, such as broken glass and bottles. “It’s very cutting-edge,” he explained. “It’s like the forerunner of modern recycling.”

The fact that, after La Pedrera was completed, the owner complained because he couldn’t find furniture to adapt to irregular and asymmetrical walls, today only adds charm to the genius.

Exploring Barcelona with Gaudi
Josep Puig i Cadafalch’s Casa Ametller

The tour ended further down in Passeig de Gràcia, admiring the colours of the wonderful Casa Batllò that sits beside Josep Puig i Cadafalch‘s masterpiece Casa Ametller and Luis Domenech Montaner‘s creation Casa Lleó Morera.

From the beautiful roof of La Pedrera it’s possible to catch a fleeting glimpse of La Sagrada Familia, the church that is considered Gaudi’s absolute masterpiece, although he didn’t even see it completed. After having admired some of the precious works of Barcelona’s most famous architect, it just wouldn’t have sounded right to leave the city without seeing La Sagrada Familia. I stayed in Barcelona for only one day, so I didn’t have enough time to visit the church inside, also because when I arrived the queue was still too long.

But I’m glad I did go, I managed to take pictures of the church all around, a truly breathtaking masterpiece that is now a great reason for me to go back to Barcelona.

Exploring Barcelona with Gaudi
La Sagrada Familia, front façade

Visiting Gaudi’s Casa Milà in Barcelona

Address of Casa Milà: Passeig de Gràcia 92.
Opening hours of Casa Milà: From Monday to Sunday, Mar. – Nov. from 9 am to 8.30 pm, Nov. to Mar. until 6.30 pm (last admission half an hour before closing time), and for the night visit 9-11 pm. Closed on December 25th. Opening hours change with the season, to know the time before your visit check the website https://www.lapedrera.com/en/visitor-information.
Entrance fee for Casa Milà: Adults € 22, students, disable and over 65 € 16.50, free for children under 6, € 11 for children from 7 to 11.

Barcelona is included in the Eurail Passes so if you are traveling around Spain and Europe it’s very easy and convenient to do so by train.

  1. As a design and visual person I found these architecture fascinating. Great share!

  2. Mon Dieu, c’est un reve , c’est au delà de toute imagination! Le génie humain n’a pas de limite!

  3. These are the most up close and captivating photos I’ve seen of Gaudi’s work, Angela. I also had no idea about his Nature philosophy. I must see La Pedrera and walk on that roof someday!

    • It’s so nice, when I went it was raining and they usually close it to the public when it rains but thankfully we were allowed on the roof. Of course it’s much better when it’s sunny, I might go back, after seeing my pictures my mom is very curious too.

  4. Well, I am in love with Gaudi. What would our world be without these imaginative, brilliant creators!

  5. Barcelona looks beautiful, I’d love to visit sometime!

  6. Barcelona — my obsession!! I love it there. It really captures the creativity and magic I believe in in life!

  7. I love that it’s all so impractical and they can’t even find furniture to fit sometimes! It makes the art in the architecture even more fun! :)

  8. I’m really loving that you’re in my favorite city in all of Europe! Personally, I like Casa Batllò the best. I think it is the best example of Gaudi’s genius(arguably so). I think it especially since it has a different look up close as it does from afar. I should go on a Gaudi tour next time I’m there, seems interesting.

  9. I was so moved by La Sagrada Familia. I hope to visit Barcelona again soon and check out more of this incredible architecture.

  10. I was in Barcelona two months ago for work, and luckily found time to explore a little of i Montaner’s and Gaudi’s works again. Didn’t see Casa Batllò, though – looks like I missed out on a fabulous building! Great photos, Angela.

  11. Gaudi’s work was definitely my favorite part of Barcelona. It seemed if I wanted to escape, his art work is a great way to do that, visually.

  12. Amazing architecture! We will head to Barcelona hopefully during summer next year. Love the view of La Pedrera

  13. Wow, these are amazing photos! The architecture seems right out of one of Tim Burton’s movies. Love la Casa Comalat.

  14. Great post! I’m going to Barcelona this weekend, I’m sure to see these amazing designs!

    Leave a reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Chasing The Unexpected