All About Antoni Gaudí
You either go to Barcelona knowing full well about Antoni Gaudí and his contributions to the city, or you arrive completely oblivious to this man & leave like a walking encyclopedia of his life. There is no in between.
Gaudí remains an icon in Barcelona, and will live on to be so for the next centuries. Still not 100% certain who he is or what he did? Read on and I’ll give you the crash course you need.
Who is Antoni Gaudí
Antoni Gaudí was a Spanish architect who made a name for himself essentially as the father of Catalan Modernism. The architectural works that he created under this style, over the course of his career, are unlike anything the world had seen before, or have seen since.
He was an extremely individualist and original creator. He pushed the boundaries on what was and was not permitted when it came to building construction during the late 18 and early 1900s.
Gaudí repeatedly commented that his work was influenced by his only passions in life: architecture, nature and religion. Through these themes he explored architectural techniques that were not even being thought of at the time; such as sculpting on rooftops and using ceramics to cover entire building faces.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the Sagrada Familia? The famous church that remains under construction in the center of Barcelona. It’s an icon, and the main focus of most guided walking tours through the city. This was Gaudí’s final contribution to Barcelona, but he passed away before seeing its completion.
Early Life of Antoni Gaudí
Gaudí lived his entire life in Catalonia. He was born in Reus, a small town near Barcelona, in 1852. It is believed that his childhood in the native landscapes is what sparked his love and appreciation for nature; the very thing that would inspire his creations later in life.
Not many people know that Gaudí was a sickly child battling with multiple illnesses throughout his early years. It got so dire that he even made the decision to adopt vegetarianism at a point, in attempt to cure his internal ailments through the power of plants.
It was his compulsory military service that sent him to Barcelona in 1875 until 1878. Gaudí completed most of his time, but was unusable to be sent into any battlefields of small wars being fought at the time due to his perpetual poor health.
As a result he was able to take up some studies in the city. He was studying architecture at the Llotja School and the Barcelona Higher School of Architecture, working as a draughtsman part time to finance his education.
He is known to have failed many classes and achieved grades that were considered “poor” in the eyes of the schooling masters.
His first ever contribution to architecture in Barcelona were the lampposts at the Plaça Reial. From there his career began to snowball.
Finding Gaudí’s Work Around Barcelona
The creation that really put Gaudí on the map as an architectural force was the Casa Vicens. It’s a mansion situated in the district of Gracia, an unmissable attraction that is included on all guided walking tours in this part of the city.
The building was unlike anything the people of Barcelona had ever seen before, especially not for a residential space. Gaudí had outdone himself, and in the process caught the attention of some affluent investors who called Barcelona home.
One of them was big businessman Eusebi Güell. Over the next few decades, Güell would commission Gaudí to create what would become a collection of his most important works of all.
The Palau Gaudí, Park Gaudí, Gaudí Wine Cellars and Gaudí Pavillion are found around the city. The former two being two of Barcelona’s major tourist attractions.
His style is distinctive, and as you make your way through the city streets you’ll be able to pick out exactly where Gaudí had influence. The Casa Milà is another impressive building in Gracia that completely defies the laws of straight lines when it comes to construction.
The Casa Batlló, or “house of bones”, is my favorite of his works. It’s the most whimsical, colorful and interesting to explore both inside and from street level. Add this to your bucket list of things to do while in Barcelona.
For a list of more unmissable works by this artist around the city you can click here.
A Visit to the Antoni Gaudí House Museum in Barcelona
As mentioned, a visit to the Park Güell at some point during your trip is inevitable. While you’re there, consider saving an hour or two for the Gaudí House Museum that is located on site.
This was actually Gaudí’s old home, and was transformed into a museum space after his death. It remains filled with furniture, documents and personal items once owned by the artist.
It’s not a very large museum, nor is it difficult to explore. You’ll leave with a more in-depth understanding of exactly how nature influenced this man to where he was able to pull these designs out of the depths of his mind.
Depending on how thorough you want to be, this museum usually doesn’t take more than thirty minutes to see properly. You’re then free to explore the Park Güell afterward; this one will take a lot longer!
Note: The Park Güell is a great place to take dogs in Barcelona! Their admission is free. The same goes for kids, I suppose.