If there is one person whose name is synonymous with Barcelona it’s Antoni Gaudí, the architectural mastermind behind many of the city’s most beloved buildings, including La Sagrada Familia.
During our stay in Barcelona, Sam and I made a point of visiting as many of Gaudí’s structures as possible.
La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia, Gaudí’s still-incomplete magnum opus, is the most iconic structure in Barcelona, and the most popular attraction in all of Spain.
Begun in 1882, the Roman Catholic church is not scheduled to be completed until 2026—one hundred years after Gaudí’s death.
Despite the ongoing construction work, La Sagrada Familia is a must-see if you visit Barcelona.
The Nativity Façade on the Eastern side of the church (completed in 1930) is incredible.
The interior is equally impressive. Gaudí was brilliant at utilizing natural light, and the multi-colored stained glass windows cast a bright, colorful glow inside the church on sunny days.
If you plan on visiting the church, we strongly recommend you purchase your tickets online in advance. We showed up at around 10:00 our first morning in Barcelona without reserved tickets and were told the next available entry wasn’t until 2:15 that afternoon! We were assigned a specific entry time as well, so we ended up having to majorly rearrange our schedule for that day (You’d think we would have learned from our mishap at the Blue Lagoon!).
Don’t make the same mistake we did. An adult ticket costs €15 (audio guides and lifts up the tower are extra) and can be purchased here.
Once we realized we wouldn’t be able to enter La Sagrada Familia until much later in the day, we decided to head over to see Park Güell.
The park blends nature with fantastic architecture. Because of its hillside location, Park Güell is also a great place to take in some sweeping views of the city.
Unfortunately, we discovered that—like at La Sagrada Familia—tickets to enter the park should be reserved online in advance to avoid a 3+ hour wait to enter. Tickets cost €7 can be purchased here.
Because we had been assigned a specific entry time at La Sagrada Familia, we didn’t have time to wait several hours to enter the park, which was disappointing. However, the area surrounding the park has free public access, so we were still able to get a view of the park and snap some pictures.
If you’re not in stellar shape or have limited mobility, be warned that the walk to the park from the nearest metro stops (Vallcara or Lesseps) involves a fairly steep incline. Our legs were burning by the time we reached the park entrance.
La Pedrera (officially known as Casa Milà), is an apartment building Gaudí was commissioned to build for businessman Pere Milà i Camps. The building was completed in 1912, and is now considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Though the interior is impressive, the most incredible part of La Pedrera is the wave-like roof terrace. Gaudí didn’t believe any part of a building should be ugly—not even the chimneys or ventilation towers. So he found away to blend functionality with aesthetics.
Also notable is Gaudí’s use of parabolic vaults in the attic (a portion of the house originally used for doing laundry), which resembles the ribcage of a snake.
Because of the hassle we had trying to visit La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell the day before, we went ahead and purchased skip-the-line tickets at a tourism office the day before for €20.50. The ticket price included use of an English language audio guide.
However, there was hardly anyone in line when we arrived, so the “skip-the-line” pass turned out to be unnecessary (we can’t seem to win on this…).
The final Gaudí building we toured in Barcelona was Casa Batlló, an apartment complex owned by Josep Batlló.
Locals refer to the house as Casa dels ossos (House of Bones) because of the skeletal look of the balconies, but the blue and green tiles combined with the wave-like lines throughout the house reminded me of the ocean.
Our “skip-the-line” pass cost €22.50 and included use of an English language audio guide.
However, as with at La Padrera, we did not experience a long line here, so we would have been okay without the skip-the-line-pass. But we did enjoy listening to the audio guide.
Antoni Gaudí was an architectural genius and his works are unlike any others in the world. If you visit Barcelona, be sure to make time in your itinerary to marvel at Gaudí’s fantastical structures.
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