If it’s your first time in Barcelona, or you’re coming back because you can’t resist its magnetic pull, there is always so much to see. From the stately gothic basilicas and the mystical buildings of modernism, or the museums displaying great artistic pieces, to the parks and hills that inspired them. There are many great places to visit that keep the city a top tourist destination. As well as a never ending list of things to do. Here is a short list of some of the architectural works that dazzle the Barcelona skyline and bore passion and inspiration into the locals and visitors alike.
Just off the Passeig de Gràcia, between Gràcia and Diagonal metro stations is Antoni Gaudí’s famous Casa Milà. It is also known as La Pedrera. A beautiful yet unconventional architectural work, twisting traditional shapes into a world of new forms. Utilising naturalistic inspiration, the building looks like it arose from the depths of the ocean. It is to this day, one of the most popular places to visit. You can do a tour of the building with an audio headset, learning about the ideas which awoke these grand forms in the architect’s mind. It also has panoramic views of the city.
Another picture perfect creation by Antoni Gaudí is the Parc Güell, a global symbol of Barcelona. Located up on Carmel hill, it was built for Eusebi Güell, a Catalan industrialist who helped bring Gaudí’s ideas alive. Amongst the natural beauty, the fantastic structures and quirky sculptures like the ‘Salamander’, is the old Güell Mansion. What was once a family home has now been made into a school. Opening times for the park are 08:00-20:30 in summer season and 08:00-17:30 in winter. If you arrive before 8am you can sometimes get in for free. Otherwise, tickets cost from €5.25.
Located on the Passeig de Gràcia, a little bit down the road from the Casa Milà is Gaudí’s equally well known Casa Batlló. A multicolour masterpiece of deep blue, teal and azures that glint in the sunny sky, the roof is informally known as the dragon. Nowadays it is also a museum and part of the Gaudí trail. A variety of tours and passes are available for both day and night, and there are even occasional rooftop performance nights. Also, you can’t miss the magnificent views from the top.
Basílica de Santa María del Mar
Located in the gothic quarter of town is this stunning basilica, which is freely open to the public without tickets. With its intricate gothic forms and sculptures, the interior is equally impressive. There are beautiful stained glass windows, statues and frescoes, that have remained timeless for the city’s devoted Catholics. It is free to enter, and is equally as impressive as the other basilicas you would pay to enter in. A perfect place for anyone to come and reflect on Barcelona’s spiritual heritage.
La Sagrada Família
Possibly the most breathtaking basilica in the country, La Sagrada Família dominates the skyline. Its wondrous spires reach forth towards the heavens, praising the Holy Family, to whom it is dedicated. You don’t need to be religious to admire this extraordinary feat of architecture, and thus it is one of the most popular tourist attractions of the city. The architect was of course, Antoni Gaudí himself.
Taking big risks, he went beyond the traditional emphasis on solely religious sculptures and iconography. He included aspects of the natural world that so deeply enchanted him. Alongside frescoes of the Passion of the Christ, you can also find lizards and frogs clinging to the exterior walls. And when you enter inside, you feel as if you have entered an enchanted woodland. With such curved and hollowed shapes created into the walls, as well as the huge columns splitting into branch like shafts to hold the roof aloft.
The feeling inside is enhanced by the natural light that spills in through the stained glass windows. It is like the dance of sunlight on a leaved canopy in a fairytale. If there’s somewhere you cannot afford to miss whilst in Barcelona, it is here.