My Barcelona trip was dominated by one name, Antoni Gaudí. I have chosen to dedicate this post to him, not because he’s the only attraction in Barcelona (he accounted for 60% of my itinerary maybe), but because he left me with the deepest impression.
Park Güell, a public park designed by Gaudí.
A whimsical ride
I had not heard of Gaudí’s name till I set foot in Barcelona. My travel companions and I merely followed the guide book and made our way to Park Güell, a public park designed in the intricate imagination of Gaudí.
Colourful pieces of mosaic greeting visitors as they enter Park Güell.
From the get-go, I was hooked. Entering the park felt like stepping into an alternate world. Windows, benches and staircases all took a whimsical turn. They were unbelievably different, yet did not look an inch out of place. Just how much time and effort did Gaudí spend piecing all these mosaic creations together? I can only shake my head in amazement.
The Casa Milà stands out with its undulating lines.
Our next stop cemented my idolisation of Gaudí – Casa Milà, an apartment building in downtown Barcelona. I would not have known that the structures on the rooftop were chimneys if I had not read the guide book. Awesome…
A chimney on the rooftop of Casa Milà. Really.
Not only that, Gaudí was able to create art out of the most mundane things like stair railings and door frames. It was a joy to stroll through the building, because his artistic talent simply radiated everywhere. Plain walls had no place in Gaudí’s world and straight lines never end up straight.
Straight lines had no place in Gaudí’s world, not even stair railings and door frames.
A couple of blocks from Casa Milà is another Gaudí masterpiece – Casa Batlló. We did not pay to enter, but with its pastel-coloured facade, this was my personal favourite.
The pastel-coloured facade of Casa Batlló.
In fact, the largest accomplishment of Gaudí is yet to come. La Sagrada Familia, a church under construction since 1882, will finally see its completion in 2026, 100 years after its designer’s death.
La Sagrada Familia, a church under construction since 1882.
The church embodies the essence of Gaudí, of nature and architecture co-existing harmoniously. Despite being only partially completed, it still packs a crowd and it is this tourist crowd (and entrance dollars) that keep the construction going.
Even though it’s uncompleted, there’s lots to see at La Sagrada Familia, like these beautiful stained-glass windows and word-lined doors.
The genius of Gaudí
How did Gaudí come up with these ideas? Fascinated, I wanted to find out what drove his inspiration. Turns out, Gaudí was a 19th century architect and best-known practitioner of Catalan Modernism. His work was influenced by his passions in life: architecture, nature and religion, together with influences of neo-Gothic art and Oriental techniques. His work transcended mainstream Modernism, culminating in an organic style inspired by natural forms. (Source: Wikipedia)
Gaudí’s unique organic style showing in the ceiling of La Sagrada Familia.
Looking back at all the Gaudí works I’ve seen, I must say I am thoroughly inspired. Gaudí managed to combine his passions – architecture, nature and religion, things that do not normally appear in the same sentence – into something unique.
In fact, it is so unique that it still has the architects of today intrigued. I don’t believe there are any imitations or replicas around, because the formula for such a design is probably known only to the master himself.