Antoni Gaudi is one of the greatest figures in the history of Spanish and Catalan architecture. Seen as the genius of the Modernist movement (Art Nouveau), his work was not only a product of the social context of the time, but also of his own personality and devotion to the Catalan culture.
He was born in Reus in 1852 and received his Architectural degree in 1878. Almost his entire professional life took place in Barcelona, where the greater part of his work is. Gaudi’s biography is closely related to the Güell family, which had huge prestige in artistic circles at this time in Barcelona. For this reason, he built for them some of his most important works such as the Palau Güell, the
Park Güell or the Colonia Güell.
One of his most important aspects was his capacity as a designer: he wanted to create architectural space using wrought iron, stained glass, furniture, sculptures, mosaics, ceramics, etc – within an organic decorative concept.
This added an important element to his buildings which is often overlooked by architects, the use of colour. Gaudi´s work was greatly influenced by forms of nature and especially by the sea, which was one of his favourite inspirations. The absence of symmetry is an important characteristic in Gaudi´s work. As in nature, nothing in his buildings or furniture is absolutely identical, thus giving the impression that it is made of a plastic material.
His most well-known works of architecture are:
Sagrada Familia: he dedicated his life to carrying out this ambitious project which he left unfinished in 1926 when he died – and it´s not expected to be completed for another 30 to 80 years. This monumental church dedicated to the Holy Family is Gaudi´s most famous work and a worldwide symbol of Barcelona.
Parc Güell: it was commissioned by Eusebi Güell, who wanted to create a stylish park for Barcelona’s aristocracy. It is a magical park with amazing buildings, sculptures, and tile work. Watch out for Gaudi´s old home in the Park which is now open to the public as a small museum. UNESCO declared Parc Güell a place of World Heritage in 1984.
Casa Batlló: Casa Batlló and La Pedrera are the two great buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi on Passeig de Gracia. The colourful Casa Batlló is known for its elaborate decoration and forms derived from nature. From the outside the façade of Casa Batlló looks like it has been made from skulls and bones.
Casa Milá: better known as La Pedrera because of its cliff-like walls was built between 1906 and 1910 for the Milà family. Casa Milà was classified as World Heritage in the 1984 UNESCO Catalogue. It has an aquatic feel: the balconies resemble seaweed and the undulating façade the sea, or rocks washed by it.
There are some of Gaudi´s lesser-known, beautiful contributions that you shouldn’t miss such as the Gigantic Fountain (Parc de la Cuitadella), the Three Graces Fountain (Plaça Reial) and the amazing wrought-iron embellished street lamps that line the streets in the heart of the city (Plaza Reial, by Las Ramblas, Passeig de Gracia and the old port entrance).
Antoni Gaudí died in Barcelona run over by a tram on 10th June 1926. Probably some of Gaudi´s greatest works are the most visited attractions in Barcelona. They have deeply influenced the face of Barcelona Architecture and you will see Gaudi´s work all over the city. Do you want to discover it?
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