The first time I went to Barcelona with my mum I was still at school. As soon as I was told that we were going to Barcelona, I was disappointed and even wrote off my holiday as wasted. At the time Barcelona was not on the list of the best places to visit in Europe or it was certainly not marked as a must-see on my personal travelling journal. Therefore, my expectations were low and I hoped for the worst… so I could turn around and say “I told you so” to my mum but guess who was able to say that exact phrase first? My mum, that’s right, because as soon as we landed there, I absolutely fell in love with the city and I cannot stop praising Barcelona to this day!Even though there’s plenty to do and see, Barcelona is not a big city and pretty much everything is within walking distance, especially the old part of the city. Therefore, put some comfy shoes on, a guidebook in hand and get lost in the city! If, again, you are short on time, jump on a local metro which is easy and cheap to use or a sightseeing bus that you can read more about on my 1st part of what to do in Barcelona here.My biggest discovery that turned hate into love was Barcelona’s famous Antoni Gaudi himself. The first artist I have ever felt connected to and whose artworks I wanted not only to admire but know every single detail about. So if you are planning a trip to Barcelona and still questioning if Antoni Gaudi masterpieces are worth your time… I am telling you, go for it!
If you decide to visit one or a few of Antoni Gaudi’s masterpieces, plan your trip in advance. There’s a lot of people like you who want to see the best of Barcelona and you surely would not want to spend your days queuing for places rather than seeing them. To save yourself stress or long queuing during peak season, buy your tickets online. It will allow you to see and do a few things quicker (as online tickets would often have FastTrack) and sometimes will save you some money too, especially, if you find a good deal online or buy combi tickets! If your time is limited, my two favourites to visit are Park Güell and Sagrada Família. You can admire other places, such as Casa Batlló and Casa Mila, from outside.
Sagrada FamíliaSagrada Família goes alongside the Camp Nou as one of the most visited attractions of Barcelona with its breathtaking architecture both inside and out. The catholic church was started by the architect Francisco Paula de Villar in 1882 and shortly after Antoni Gaudí has got involved in the project in 1883, Villar resigned leaving Gaudi recreating his project radically, however, even to this day the church is still a work in progress. Why does it take so long? The building process of Sagrada Família has been really slow because it relies on private donations only. In the past people of Barcelona had contrasting opinions about it as they were scared of Sagrada Família overshadowing Barcelona’s cathedral and they were right to do so. Currently, the beauty of Sagrada Família hides inside the church with magnificent columns mirroring trees and their branches, and it seems that none of the walls inside are flat as they are covered with curvy ornaments and geometric details. I would truly recommend to go inside the church!Currently 2026 is announced as completion date for Sagrada Familia but here’s an interesting fact – the church has been in progress for around 200 years which is longer than any other famous building in the world.
Park GüellPark Güell is another child of Antoni Gaudi creations that he was assigned to do by Eusebi Güell, a successful Spanish entrepreneur. Originally, it was invented to provide housing for the upper classes, however, struggling to sell the idea, Park Güell was turned into a public park which is now part of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The park is a great reflection of Gaudi’s artistic style who based his works around forms and volumes. As in all architect’s works, there’s a lot of symbolism elements marking the park, especially political and religious ideals that both Güell and Gaudi believed in. It is also considered that the conception of the park was highly influenced by the Temple of Apollo in Greece.The main attraction of the park is the terrace surrounded by a long bench in the shape of a sea dragon. The bench is covered in motifs of Catalan nationalism, as well as religious mysticism and ancient poetry. From here 0n it opens up the best views of Barcelona too – so be quick to snap a few pictures while you have a chance!The dragon theme also continues across the whole park with another dragon welcoming you at the entrance to Park Güell. It’s seen as a symbol of the park and everyone would be stopping to take a picture there!
Casa Batlló To be truthfully honest with you, I have never been inside the Casa Batlló. The famous star of the Passeig de Gracia is an apartment block, redesigned by Gaudi’s in the early 1900s. Others know Casa Batlló as the casa dels ossos, house of bones in Spanish, and it’s no surprise why. The building has unusual stonework elements and irregular windows but that’s Antoni Gaudi to you creating his Modernist works of art. Like everything Gaudi designed, Casa Batlló facade had been decorated with colourful mosaic and the roof of the building is arched, reminding many of the back of a dragon. If you walk around, the building itself changes its colour like a chameleon and it is simply mesmerising.In 2005, Casa Batlló became a UNESCO World Heritage Site, alongside Sagrada Família, Park Güell and Casa Mila.
Today Casa Batlló is open to public like a museum and you can admire Gaudi’s swirling techniques and have a peek at Barcelona from another angle. The museum organises different tours alongside regular visits. Therefore you can purchase a ticket to a theatrical visit, be the first one before tourists attack the place or enjoy a magic night visit with drinks and live music on the Dragon roof terrace. I promised myself that next time I am in Barcelona, I want to experience Magic Night visit to Casa Battló that would allow me to soak in the Antoni Gaudi culture as well as beautiful city views from above in the evening. Again, don’t forget to purchase your tickets online to get FastPass!
Casa MilaCasa Mila, better known as La Pedrera, is another modernist building in the Eixample district created by Antoni Gaudi. The building was built for Roser Segimon and her husband Pere Milà who lived in the Casa Mila until their death. Antoni Gaudi designed the house to be a constant curve, both outside and inside. It was the last private residence that the architect took upon himself to design and he originally planned to build Casa Mila as a spiritual symbol. However, the architect’s plans were amended after the local government announced that some elements of the building exceeded city’s height standards.Today, Casa Mila, together with a few other of Gaudi’s works, belongs to UNESCO World Heritage List for its exceptional value, even though people had controversial opinions about the building due to its rough-looking appearance, waving stone facades and twisting balconies. If you walk into the Casa Mila, it is now the home of Catalunya La Pedrera Foundation and a cultural centre which manages exhibitions and other activities inside the building.So when you plan your next trip to Barcelona, don’t forget to include the best of Antoni Gaudi to your list because if you haven’t seen, have you even been?