Antoni Gaudí's Masterpieces Walking Tour, Barcelona

Antoni Gaudí's Masterpieces Walking Tour (Self Guided), Barcelona

Gaudi is admired around the world as one of the most distinctive architects of the 20th century. The unique technique and use of natural forms make his creations stand out from the pack. La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Batllo and other masterpieces will certainly take your breath away with their beauty, forms, colors, and overall design. Just make sure to book tickets in advance, since peaking inside may be depending on their availability.

Our itinerary starts at Palau Guell, by far the most budget-friendly of Barcelona’s Gaudi houses, which also allows seeing quite a bit from the outside, since there is no fence or wall to block the view of its entry gates, facade and rooftop. Gaudi designed this house in 1885 when he was still a rookie, having received his first commission from a wealthy industrialist. Straight away, the city mansion strikes you as strangely forbidding. A phoenix hovers above the entry, with outstretched wings representing Catalan renaissance, while beneath it are the four stripes of the Catalan flag. From across the road, you can see the tops of Gaudi’s brightly colored ceramic and tile chimney stacks.

Next is the Casa Calvet, built for a textile manufacturer in 1899. Some hold that it’s Gaudi most conservative work; however, it also contains markedly “modernista” elements, such as bulging and curved balconies, as well as attic balconies looking like something from a fairy tale.

The family mansion of Casa Batllo and the apartment building Casa Mila are two very different residential structures – yet, they share much of the same architectural vocabulary. The latter’s undulating sculptural appearance made it one of Barcelona’s most striking and controversial structures.

Finally, La Sagrada Familia is by far the city’s most well-known attraction, and for good reason. Nothing comes close to this singularly unique cathedral with spires rocketing toward the sky, looking like it dripped from the heavens above. Spain anticipates the church to finally be finished in 2026 (the centennial of Gaudi’s death).

Follow this self-guided walking tour and enjoy the sight of Barcelona’s architectural marvels created by Antoni Gaudi!
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Antoni Gaudí's Masterpieces Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Antoni Gaudí's Masterpieces Walking Tour
Guide Location: Spain » Barcelona (See other walking tours in Barcelona)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.6 Km or 2.9 Miles
Author: clare
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Palau Guell (Guell Palace)
  • Casa Calvet (Calvet House)
  • Casa Batllo (Batllo House)
  • Casa Mila (Mila House)
  • La Sagrada Familia (Basilica of the Holy Family)
Palau Guell (Guell Palace)

1) Palau Guell (Guell Palace) (must see)

Nestled in a discreet corner just off the bustling La Rambla, Antoni Gaudí's inaugural masterpiece in Barcelona swiftly propelled him to international acclaim for his remarkable and innovative architecture. Constructed in 1889 for the magnate Eusebi Güell, who became Gaudí's lifelong patron, the building stands out for its unconventional approach of showcasing iron supports as decorative elements, with intricately shaped and twisted columns, arches, and ceilings that would come to define Gaudí's future creations, culminating in a whimsical array of tiled chimneys on the roof terrace.

With no budget constraints set by Güell, Gaudí spared no expense, utilizing the finest materials and craftsmen. The central room on the main floor stands out as a remarkable feature, soaring three floors high and crowned with a cupola. Hidden within the ornate walls and ceiling are small observation holes, allowing the owner to discreetly observe guests from the upper floor before personally greeting them. The grand oval gates at the entrance, adorned with intricate ironwork resembling seaweed, provided direct access for high-society guests arriving in carriages, leading them to the horse stables located in the basement. From there, they could ascend to the upper floors.

Why You Should Visit:
Being slightly tucked away from the renowned La Rambla, this lesser-known gem attracts fewer tourists, offering a delightful opportunity to admire Gaudí's work in the charming old quarter of the city, while also saving time.

The highlight here is the rooftop terrace and its colorful chimneys adorned with mosaic and broken tiles, each one unique. Take note that on rainy days, the rooftop may be closed, so it's advisable to check the weather forecast beforehand to ensure a pleasant visit.
Casa Calvet (Calvet House)

2) Casa Calvet (Calvet House)

Casa Calvet, a townhouse designed by Gaudí, stands as a slightly more conventional structure compared to his other iconic creations such as Casa Batlló and Casa Milà. Built in the Eixample district, this architectural marvel showcases a Montjuïc sandstone facade adorned with baroque scroll gables, deviating from Gaudí's typical use of ceramics, colors, and sculpted ripples. While the exterior may appear conservative, Casa Calvet compensates with its intricate Art Nouveau details found in every aspect, from the door handles to the benches, chairs, vestibule, and the awe-inspiring glass-and-wood elevator.

Originally commissioned in 1900 for textile baron Pere Calvet, the house features symbolic elements on its facade, including the stylized letter "C" representing the owner's name above the door and a cypress tree symbolizing hospitality. The presence of wild mushrooms on the second floor reflects Pere Calvet's passion for mycology and possibly Gaudí's as well. Additionally, the busts atop the facade represent Saint Peter, the patron saint of the owner, as well as Saint Genis of Arles and Saint Genis of Rome, the patron saints of Vilassar, the Calvet family's hometown.

While only the ground-floor Casa Calvet restaurant is accessible to visitors today, this space was originally occupied by Calvet's textile company offices, featuring exuberant Moderniste decor that adds to the building's allure.
Casa Batllo (Batllo House)

3) Casa Batllo (Batllo House) (must see)

Casa Batlló – a prominent symbol of Modernism and Catalan Art Nouveau architecture in Barcelona – is widely hailed as Antoni Gaudí's ultimate masterpiece. Originally constructed in the 1870s, Gaudí undertook a remarkable renovation project in 1904 that transformed this ordinary mansion into a true work of art. Lovingly referred to by locals as the "house of bones" due to its bone-like balconies, or the "house of the dragon" for its roof resembling the humped and glossy scales of a dragon's back, it stands as one of Europe's most peculiar residential buildings.

Few structures in the world possess such an organic quality, where Casa Batlló exudes a sense of being alive rather than inanimate. Any time – day or night, a small crowd gathers outside, gazing up at the undulating facade adorned with a mosaic of fragmented colored glass and ceramic discs. Gaudí's use of light and color is wonderful, particularly in the ceramics, and the curves soften the hard materials quite brilliantly. While exploring the building's interior requires an admission fee that may be considered steep compared to other attractions in Barcelona, it is a worthwhile experience to witness the swirly and curvaceous design.

To fully appreciate Casa Batlló, it is recommended to avail oneself of the free audio guide, which provides valuable insights into the building's historical and artistic context. Although the rooms are now devoid of furniture, the audio guide allows visitors to envision the original furnishings and lighting that once graced the space. As in the case of Casa Milà, Gaudí designed every single bit and piece here, even down to the door handles, ensuring their seamless integration and harmony with the overall form and function.

Despite the presence of an elevator, you are encouraged to walk up the stairs to the rooftop, so as to soak up the atmosphere with its intricate textures and shapes, including glass walls and tiles. At the rooftop's culmination, you'll be rewarded with a scenic view of the surroundings, as well as the up-close encounter with the roof itself including, of course, the signature twisted and tiled chimney pots looking as if they were brought in from a land far, far away...

For a fee, you have the opportunity to have your photo taken on the small balcony at the front of the building (as you descend from the rooftop), receiving both a printed copy and an electronic version for a memorable keepsake.
Casa Mila (Mila House)

4) Casa Mila (Mila House) (must see)

Hugging the corner of Gràcia Avenue ("Passeig de Gràcia"), the curvy Casa Milà is yet another fabulous creation by Antoni Gaudí, located just minutes away from his other masterpiece, Casa Batlló. Commissioned by a wealthy developer who had just married an even wealthier widow, this apartment block stands out as the most innovative in all of Barcelona and vividly illustrates how well ahead of his time Gaudí, the designer, really was.

The nickname La Pedrera ("The Quarry") stems from the building's stony, fortress-like appearance, but Gaudí himself thought of it more as a body covered in skin, with the columns serving as its skeleton and the stone as its flesh. It may not look much from a distance, but as you approach, you are gradually drawn in and can't stop staring! The whole structure is so seamlessly sinuous that it looks as if molded rather than constructed, while the apartments inside resemble eroded cave dwellings.

After being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, the house was acquired by a Catalonian banking foundation and, upon the completion of restoration and cleaning works, some of its original decorations came back into sight. The owners also refurbished the building, adding several new features within.

One notable addition is a meticulously recreated early 20th-century-style apartment on the fourth floor, showcasing the elegant living quarters of an affluent family from that era. The attic houses a tribute to Gaudí's life and work, featuring scale models, plans, drawings, and photographs of all his Barcelona creations. Amongst the exhibits, one can observe Gaudí's inspiration drawn from natural elements like pumpkins, seashells, and even python skeletons.

In keeping with the building's facade, the roof terrace preserves its distinctive architectural style through chimneys, ventilation shafts, and stairwells, all while retaining their practical functions. From there, one can enjoy a stunning panoramic view of Barcelona, providing a tranquil escape from the bustling streets below. It's worth noting that the rooftop terrace is closed during rainy weather, so make sure to visit on a clear day.

To avoid waiting in line, do try and book your ticket online in advance and, if possible, visit around sunset when the lights are on, allowing you to experience the surreal audiovisual show. During the summer months, jazz and flamenco concerts are often held here, which is quite a treat as well.
La Sagrada Familia (Basilica of the Holy Family)

5) La Sagrada Familia (Basilica of the Holy Family) (must see)

Up close, Gaudí's grand Gothic masterpiece is truly awe-inspiring. The colossal basilica appears to emerge from the ground, reaching ever higher as far as the eye can see. Gaudí dedicated an impressive 43 years of his career to designing this iconic monument, and the still ongoing construction works are as much part of the attraction as the building itself.

While the exterior offers a lot to admire, the interior is equally extraordinary, with the eyes being drawn at once to the walls and the roof. Immense, luminous stained-glass windows line the walls, flooding the church with natural light and a kaleidoscope of colors. Supported by countless pillars with robust bases that branch out like trees towards the ceiling, the temple's roof resembles a vibrant forest canopy.

Overall, Sagrada Família is on a whole other level than other cathedrals, so simply wandering around and taking in the sights may not be enough to truly appreciate its architectural grandeur. Given the opportunity, do try to get inside. Also, it's worth delving into its fascinating details with the help of a guide. Fortunately, audio devices are available at the entrance, providing ample information while allowing enough time for exploration. Alternatively, you can book a guided tour.

When planning your visit, pre-purchasing a ticket online is absolutely recommended and will let you skip the long queues upon arrival.

Furthermore, don't miss the opportunity to explore the museum below, offering a wealth of information, including audiovisual presentations, about the Sagrada Família project's history, future plans, and Gaudí himself. You may also want to visit the small school built by Antoni Gaudí for the children of the construction workers right on the site.

Please note that children under 6 are not permitted to ascend the towers, and the spiral staircase can be challenging for some. If you decide to climb, ask the staff for directions to the "backside elevator", as it is usually less crowded.

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