Taking a walk through the districts and narrow streets of Barcelona is an architecture buffs dream, whether ambling down Passeig de Gracia or strolling through Las Ramblas it is a feast for the eyes.
Antoni Gaudi is almost synonymous with the Catalan capital and his presence is evident everywhere in the Barcelona cityscape. The Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, Park Guell and Casa Milà are must visits for most tourists, and a number of tours are possible taken linking his most popular creations.
His buildings are described as Art Nouveau style and are greatly influenced by nature. Flowing curves, twisted metal sculpted into figurines and colourful tiled mosaics are typical features of his designs. His approach was so personalised it is almost a separate form of modernisme.
“Each building is a work of art”
His distinctive style is greatly admired, the attention to detail is amazing. Each building is a work of art, there are so many intricate designs within them that it takes an observant eye to spot the almost hidden detail. Taking time to soak it all in is highly recommended. Standing or sitting outside one of his creations, allowing the eyes to wander over the façade will reveal much that might otherwise have easily been missed.
The Sagrada Familia is possibly his greatest work, though yet completed. It mixes the modernisme style with neo-gothic influences it is one of the cities most popular attractions.
Barcelona is one of the great seats of the modernist movement in Europe, which is where it gained most popularity. Although the landscape of the city is dominated by Gaudi’s presence, he is not the only great architect to have plied his art here.
Lluís Domènech i Montaner also built many of the cities famous landmarks including Casa Lleó Morera, Hospital de Sant Pau and Palau de la Música Catalana which were both granted UNESCO status as World Heritage sites in 1997. His buildings also display amazing ornamentation but still retain the flowing lines of Art Nouveau.
The Tarragona born architect Josep Maria Jujol collaborated with Gaudi on a number of projects including the Casa Batlló and Casa Milà. However he left his own mark with several of his works including the Can Negre and Casa Mañach. He also built a number of buildings in his home city.
The skyline of the city has changed significantly since the time of the modernist architects. New buildings have sprouted from the barrios, space-age looking-glass sculptures reaching skyward including Jean Nouvel’s Agbar Tower a new city landmark. The city planners have managed to blend these skyscrapers with the classical Art Nouveau Barcelona architecture providing a cityscape which is both pleasing and interesting.
The weather in the Catalan capital is usually pleasant and even if architecture isn’t every visitors favourite subject spending an hour or two exploring the city and some of its beautiful and impressive buildings is a great way to spend afternoon. There are plenty of coffee shops to get some refreshment along the way, if the tour stretches into the evening the bars will be open too!