Barcelona’s Most Famous Sites: Gaudí or Gaudy?

Having been to Barcelona three times in the last ten months, you would think that I’ve sufficiently explored the city, especially the famous {and wacky} buildings of Gaudí . As you may remember, I had the pleasure of staying in a fabulous Go with Oh apartment within spitting distance {that’s a Southern phrase} of the Sagrada Familia. I drank coffee in the morning and wine in the evening on my balcony with the symbol of Barcelona staring at me. It was certainly surreal, but I never really got into the whole Gaudí hoopla.

Barcelona Gaudi Apartment

Who is this Gaudí guy?

Antoni Gaudí was a visionary architect during Barcelona’s Modernista period in the 20th century. No less than seven of his buildings have been listed as heritage sites by UNESCO {the culture arm of the UN} and Gaudí’s work is admired by his fellow architects due to its unique {a total understatement} and distinctive style throughout Barcelona. In short, you may think you’ve happened into a Dr. Seuss book when looking at a Gaudí building.

Gaudí was born in Reus in 1852 and received his architectural degree in 1878. After a few years under the influence of neo-Gothic art and Oriental techniques, Gaudí became part of the Catalan Modernista movement which was reaching its peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His work transcended mainstream Modernism, culminating in an organic style inspired by nature. Apparently, Gaudí rarely drew detailed plans of his works, instead preferring to create them as three-dimensional scale models and molding the details as he was conceiving them. I tend to like a guy that’s willing to fly by the seat of his pants.

His work was greatly influenced by forms of nature and this is reflected by the use of curved construction stones, twisted iron sculptures, and organic-like forms. Gaudí also adorned many of his buildings with distinctive colored tiles arranged in mosaic patterns. Here are four of Gaudí’s most popular sites in Barcelona:

Sagrada Familia

Gaudi Sagrada Familia


This giant temple is Barcelona’s number one most-visited tourist attraction. It’s been under construction since 1882 and isn’t estimated to be completed for another 30 to 80 years. Whether modern materials should be used in the construction of Sagrada Familia is a topic of hot debate in Spain as some feel that the man himself wouldn’t have used them. Gaudí played an active part in directing construction of the building until his death in 1926.

Park Guell

Park Guell Barcelona Gauid


This park has amazing sculptures, buildings and tile work designed by Gaudí . Here you can see a walkway supported by twisting rock pillars that seem to be growing out of the ground like tree trunks. Although these are rather irregular in shape they do feel strangely natural too. Situated on a hill, Park Guell is also perfect for a view over the city and out to the bay. Entrance to the park itself is free but there is a small entrance fee if you wish to visit Gaudí’s house, which is in the grounds.

Casa Batlló

Gaudi Barcelona


This is one of the most interesting houses in Barcelona. Gaudí used colours and shapes found in marine life as inspiration for his creativity in this building. For example, the colors chosen for the façade are those found in natural coral. As with much of Gaudi’s work, you will struggle to find a straight line anywhere.

Casa Mila

Casa Mila Barcelona Gaudi


Gaudí’s “rock quarry”. You can buy advance tickets or wait in line for the main exhibition and access to the famous roof with its “forest of warriors” chimneys. The façade is built of limestone from nearby Vilafranca del Penedès, apart from the upper level, which is covered in white tiles, evoking a snowy mountain.

After visiting the city three times in the last year, how have I managed not to properly experience Gaudí’s Barcelona? Well, I took flamenco lessons for one, but honestly, I just didn’t make it a priority. I’m headed back to Europe in July, so I’m hoping to get to Barcelona. I vow on this next trip that I will experience Barcelona through Gaudí’s crazy eyes and see his most popular works on my summer holiday to Spain. Only then can I determine if think these buildings are gaudy or simply Gaudí.

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  • Jen
    June 4, 2013

    Love, love, love Gaudi! When ever I am in Barcelona, I can’t help but to just stand in front of Casa Batlló and just stare at it. Yes, his work is eccentric, but it’s totally different than anything else.

    • Leah Walker
      June 9, 2013

      Exactly. Gaudi is one of a kind and I can truly appreciate his work.

  • Anita Mac
    June 5, 2013

    I knew nothing of Gaudi before my last trip to Barcelona, but am so glad to have visited Casa Batllo – it was rather fascinating. He was a visionary and his work was exquisite. Take the audio tour – it will give you all the background behind his work and add so much to your experience! I thought it was worth it! I plan to go back and see more in the future – Casa Batllo was only an introduction for me!

    • Leah Walker
      June 9, 2013

      If I can’t be with an expert then I totally go for the audio tour. I find that it always help me appreciate what I’m looking at, which is essential to the experience.

  • new york city tours
    June 5, 2013

    Great – this is so interesting… looks like it has to be added to my next Barcelona trip. 🙂

    • Leah Walker
      June 9, 2013

      Enjoy! Barcelona is fabulous.

  • Cyra @ Gastronomic Nomad
    December 27, 2013

    I love the works of Gaudí, but it can be hard to get into them when there are thousands of other tourists, camera ready, with exactly the same idea. I am lucky that I visit Barcelona almost every month, so I try and catch his sights at quieter times. Though I have planned on my next visit I am going on a mission to discover the unknown Gaudí buildings outside of the city!

    • Leah Walker
      January 17, 2014

      Lucky you! Barcelona every month?!?

  • Amanda @amandaelsewhere
    September 16, 2014

    I must confess that as a traveler who isn’t quite experienced with Europe I had a bit of queue-shock in Barcelona. I waited in line for two hours to see the Sagrada Familia.

    That said, it is one of the only times I have ever felt my breath sucked away from me in a travel moment. Not even the pictures could prepare me for how astounding it really is.

  • Adrienne
    December 9, 2014

    Gaudy? Never! His works are amazing and awe inspiring. Some of the coolest architecture on the planet. Love Love Love Barcelona!

    • Leah Walker
      December 15, 2014

      I want to be as enthusiastic about Barcelona as you, but I just don’t love it. I’ve been three times, but I vow to give it another shot.


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