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If you’re visiting Barcelona and have started your research, I’m sure you have heard the name Gaudí come up several times. Antoni Gaudí is a legend in Barcelona as he was one of the greatest architects in the world. His imagination and creativity is so fascinating and unique that you start to understand why he is such a big deal with each Antoni Gaudí location you visit. I managed to do four of the famous Gaudí sites (and one extra) and they were all beautiful and original in their own right.
This was my first Gaudí site I visited and it was a great start to learning about the brilliant architect. Casa Milà is often referred to as La Pedrera which means "the stone quarry". In 1906, Pere Milà and his wife, Roser Segimon, commissioned Gaudí to build their new property. The main floor, Casa Milà, was their home and the rest of the building was rented as apartments. Roser Segimon lived in the building until she passed away in 1964. In 1984, the building was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and was restored and opened to the public in 1996.
I recommend visiting this site later in the day, about an hour or two before they close, like I did because there weren’t that many visitors at that time. Plus, you may come across a live jazz band rehearsing for an event.
CASA MILA - LA PEDRERA
ADDRESS: Passeig de Gràcia, 92, 08008 Barcelona
Casa Batlló was my favorite Gaudí site out of the four I visited. It was far less crowded than the other two popular sites, La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, so I enjoyed my experience more. I purchased the “Be the First!” ticket, which gave me access to the museum 30 minutes before it opened to the public, so this gave me the freedom to take the pictures and videos I wanted without being overwhelmed by fellow tourists.
Casa Batlló was originally built in 1877 by Emilio Sala Cortés (one of Gaudí’s architecture professors) and in 1903, it was purchased by Josep Batlló y Casanovas. In 1904, he hired Antoni Gaudí to redesign the building and originally the plan was to demolish the building but luckily Gaudí found a way to preserve the building without having to go that route. Gaudí completed his work in 1906 and the building is now a UNESCO World Heritage site welcoming 1 million visitors every year.
ADDRESS: Passeig de Gràcia, 43, 08007 Barcelona, Spain (6-minute walk from Casa Mila)
Park Guell is a very popular Gaudí site that features beautiful gardens with houses and sculptures that look like they’re straight from the board game, Candy Land. You also get a beautiful view looking out to Barcelona. It was originally built to be a housing site but since it was too far away from the city center, locals were not interested in buying property here so Gaudí bought one of the houses and lived there from 1906 to 1925. The park was built between 1900 and 1914 and was officially opened as a public park in 1926. In 1984, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
At the time I went, there was a lot of construction going on and way too many people, so I didn’t really enjoy this site as much as I thought I would. Of course, I appreciated all of Gaudí's genius work but I had to move quickly when taking pictures or viewing sculptures and vista points. I was not able to take it all in like I wanted to.
If you’re planning on visiting Park Guell, make sure you book your ticket in advance or else you'll be waiting in line for hours. I did not know how popular this site was, so I had no choice but to book a tour to get in. I recommend going first thing in the morning during the low season when it’s less crowded. I had to visit this site in high season around 5pm because it was part of the tour and I had no other choice since my time in Barcelona was limited.
ADDRESS: 08024 Barcelona, Spain
LA SAGRADA FAMILIA
This church is Gaudí's most famous work and the most visited site in Barcelona welcoming more than three million visitors each year. This Roman Catholic church began construction in 1892 and is planning on completing construction in 2026 (but many speculate that it probably won’t be complete until 2040). So they’ve been working on this church for over 100 years! Isn’t that crazy?
La Sagrada Familia was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 and the fascinating thing about this church is all the details and symbolism behind every single design and sculpture. Just about everything you see has a meaning. There is a sign near the entrance of the church explaining some of the scenes in the doorway like the wedding of Mary and Joseph or the Flight to Egypt. Indoors, it is breathtaking and there are more symbolisms like the interior structure of the large pillars look like trees and one pillar has a turtle at its base, and another a tortoise in order to show the balance between land and sea.
I recommend buying your tickets early online, a few weeks in advance or earlier, and get here first thing in the morning. I did not realize how busy this site was and could not buy a ticket online the day before, so I had to book a tour. The advantage of tours is that you get to skip long lines but you’re very limited on what you can see as some tours, like mine, moved along very quickly. Also keep in mind that since this is a church, visitors have to dress appropriately, for example, covering your shoulders or shorts and skirts coming down to at least mid-thigh.
LA SAGRADA FAMILIA
ADDRESS: Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain
CASCADA FOUNTAIN AT PARK DE LA CIUTADELLA
This fountain is stretching it a bit to call it part of Gaudí's work as it was designed by the architect Josep Fontsère in 1881 but it is said that young Gaudí (before anyone knew who he was) made some additions of his own. The park is worth visiting especially since it’s free.
Barcelona is one of the top 5 most visited countries in Europe but I didn’t really feel the overcrowding until I visited La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. There were so many people that it was hard for me to truly enjoy the sites. It might have partly been because I was exhausted and visited during high season and at peak times. With that being said, I’m glad I visited all of these sites and it is definitely not to be missed when visiting Barcelona. If I had more time, I would have visited each site on separate days first thing in the morning.
PARK DE LA CIUTADELLA
ADDRESS: Passeig de Picasso, 21, 08003 Barcelona, Spain