Remnants of Antoni Gaudi's life's work are scattered across all of Catalonia. These range from infrastructural elements like the lampposts in Plaza Real to the most visited site in Barcelona, the Sagrada Familia. Because of his longevity and creativity, his legacy is one of Catalonia's most proud and pervasive. Always a student of the world, Gaudi had great curiosity for architecture, geometry, and nature throughout his life. This allowed him to create his world-renowned aesthetic referred to as Catalan Modernism. Typically, Barcelona tourists want to visit not only Gaudi's Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, but also the slightly less famous Casa Mila and Casa Batlló. While all of those sites are definitely worth visiting (at least to see the exterior), there are many other Gaudi structures in Barcelona that, when visited, tell a much more complete story about his life and work.
If you want to dive deep into the life of Gaudi, explore this walking map which will take you on a tour to see both his famous and lesser-known structures within Barcelona. Put on your walking shoes and see how many you can hit (hint: if you start at Bellesguard, you'll walk mostly downhill all of the way to Guell Palace)!
Here's a brief history lesson on each structure:
Casa Figueres (aka Bellesguard)
Located in the Sarría-Sant Gervasi neighborhood, Gaudi began building Bellesguard (meaning Beautiful View) in the early 1900s. This is one of his lesser-known works in large part because it is not as recognizably “Gaudi” as Casa Mila or Casa Batlló. It lacks the mosaic tiles and arcing structures typical of Gaudi's later works and shows much heavier gothic influences.
Actually a failed urbanization project, Park Guell was initially designed to be a housing complex styled like an English garden. Divided into 60 plots of land, unfortunately only one of them sold. To encourage sales, a show-home was built. However, when it didn't generate any more demand, Gaudi moved in and spent 20 years living there. His former home is now the Gaudi museum which you can visit for €5.5 (or €3.5 with a combination Sagrada Familia Ticket).
Park Guell is a great stop along your Gaudi walking tour. Much of the park is free, but to enter the “Monumental Zone” complete with the famous salamander aka “El Drac”, mosaic terrace, and two small mosaic homes (one of which is a museum), you'll need to pay €7. If you plan to enter this section, it's best to book your ticket ahead of time to guarantee your entrance time.
Construction on Casa Vicens started 5 years after the Paris World Fair in 1883 making it one of Gaudi's earliest commissions. This 4-story home was built for Manuel Vicens who owned a brick and tile factory. To pay respect to its owner (and no doubt to be fiscally responsible), many of the supplies for the home came from the brick and tile factory. This residence was one of the first examples of Gaudi's creative style and impressive use of tile and ceramics. Casa Vicens is situated in the quaint area of Gracia and is privately owned. At the moment, it's actually up for sale (and the exterior is sadly also under construction)!
When touring Europe, many people grow tired of the entrance fees associated with checking out the inside of every cathedral, and many (myself included) feel that they unfortunately start to blend together. The Sagrada Familia is not that church. In 1883 Gaudi took over the construction of the Sagrada Familia and totally transformed its design plans. The result is a Cathedral so unique and stunning, it is worth every penny of the €15 entrance fee.
Though it's still under construction and is expected to be so for years to come, visitors can still enjoy incredible views of the stained glass, intricate pillar and ceiling design, and creativity that is unmatched. The entrance fee also includes entrance to a museum on the history of the construction of the Sagrada Familia, as well as the accompanying school formerly used for the construction team's children. Make sure you don't miss those sites which can be accessed outside the back of the church (opposite the entrance). For the last eleven years of Gaudi's life, this was his sole devotion and it is apparent from the moment you enter. I don't say it often, but this is a must see for every Barcelona local and visitor.
Also known as La Pedrera, you won't miss this house when moseying down the majestic Passeig de Gràcia. Gaudi constructed it in such a way to minimize the need for load bearing walls which allowed him to build it as a continuous series of curves. The result is an open floor plan that can be changed on a whim based on the resident's wants and needs. The home boasts two large courtyards and a beautifully ornamented rooftop area. Casa Milà is a bit of a misnomer as you'll realize that it's quite large for a single family home. It was initially constructed as one residential home in addition to 20 apartment units. Now it can be toured by day or by night.
Continuing down Passeig de Gràcia toward the water you will find Casa Batlló, a Gaudi masterpiece whose renovation was started in 1904. The Batlló family wanted a home that was unlike any other, so they gave Gaudi free reign in terms of design. The result is breathtaking. Visitors are able to tour this home, and should if it's within budget. If you'd rather spend your money elsewhere, make sure to take in the exterior from the street level. From the outside you'll be able to see what people believe to be a dragon on the rooftop, water lilies over the windows, and if you look long enough, likely much, much more.
Casa Calvet is considered the least “modernista” of Gaudi's works as it fits into a much more conventional mold. That said, Gaudi still inserted unique touches into this home to impress his client. Pere Màrtir Calvet, who commissioned the home, was a textile manufacturer. Paying homage to it's owner, Gaudi hid cotton bobbins in the front columns of the home. Also, the letter "C" can be seen over the front entrance. This is a great spot to walk by to see the range of works created by Gaudi and if you're inclined, you can even enjoy a fancy meal in this former home.
Finish your Gaudi tour at the Guell Palace in El Raval. This home was built to entertain. Guests of the house's owner would enter the building through the grand iron gates in their horse drawn carriages. Once they'd exited their carriages, their animals would carry on straight into the basement stable. Pay to take a tour of the inside of the palace or simply visit the outside and take a virtual indoor tour here. Either way, prepare yourself to be impressed by this palace's thoughtful design.
In all, Gaudi has eight UNESCO World Heritage sites and you can see seven of them right in Barcelona. If you'll be in town, make sure to take in as much as possible and find your favorite. And remember, pay to go inside the Sagrada Familia!
P.S. Planning a trip to Barcelona? Short on time to plan? Here is a 1-day guide to the city with four different options depending on what you're most excited to discover. The tour includes everything from Bhttp://www.californiatocatalonia.com/guides/barcelona-one-day-guidearcenoleta, to the magic fountain, the Boqueria, and many of Gaudi's works in a single day.
Choose from four different routes and see whatever's most exciting to you!