Thursday, September 26, 2013

Visiting Gaudí's Barcelona

Guest post by Harriet Freeman - September/26/2013

Barcelona is a unique city and when here, visitors will instantly appreciate the one artistic style that will stand-out throughout the entire trip; Modernism.

Outside the old zone of Barcelona, modernist buildings can be spotted in practically every area you visit, based on their freedom of forms and inspired by nature. One name that stands out above all in the field of Modernism is the Catalan architect; Antoni Gaudí. Gaudí's projects have attracted millions of people to Barcelona, with his incredibly unique and innovative works of art scattered around the city. So if you too are planning a trip to Barcelona and have the intention of touring some of Gaudí's works, here is a guide to get you started.

Essential information for your trip

Where to stayOne recommendation to make the most out of your time touring Guadí's works is to stay in one of the low-cost holiday apartments close to the Sagrada Familia. It was the most visited attraction in Spain in 2012, and usually has long queues, so if you stay nearby, you can visit in the morning when it opens and skip the long lines. As an added bonus, some of the accommodations even have balconies that offer stunning views of the monument. 

Where to eat: One place in which you can eat is Casa Calvet, a building designed by Gaudí that has its very own restaurant. In La Pedrera you'll also find a restaurant on the bottom floor. There's no need to stop visiting the Catalan architect's work for a lunch break! 

The must see attractions from Gaudí

Sagrada Familia: This is the life work of Gaudí and the biggest project he ever took on. This unfinished Basilica stands out amongst the skyline of Barcelona. Throughout history it has has its fair share of criticism from artists like Picasso and George Orwell, it has also been praised by artists such as Dalí. One thing is for sure though, it's constantly ranking as one of the most popular attractions in Spain, making this particular attraction essential for any itinerary in Barcelona. Remember, as mentioned earlier, it's essential to get there before the queues form, this is easy to do if you book Barcelona accommodation close to the attraction.

Casa Batlló: This period noble's house is open to the public for visits. It features a colorful and pleasing façade, which many experts debate about where the inspiration comes from, many agree it pays tribute to St. George and the tale in which he slew a dragon, with the bone like structures of the building representing the bones of the dragon (or maybe the bones of its victims), the roof representing the scales of the dragon and the main spire representing sword Ascalon, which St. George was said to have lodged into the dragon's back. 

Casa Milà: This house is on the same street as Casa Batlló. The Milà family essentially saw the construction of Casa Batlló and wanted their very own building from Gaudí as well, so that they could rent it out to the upper-middle class of Barcelona. There are many construction laws that altered the original intentions of Gaudí, as well as differences of opinion with the Milà family. One famous quote from the architect was in response to Lady Milà, who was complaining that there were so many curves that there wasn't a single straight wall to place her piano, to which he responded "So then play the violin". 

Parc Güell: This park is a UNESCO World Heritage site designed by Gaudí, it is here that you can visit the house of Gaudí (ironically it wasn't designed by him), the famous Fountain of the Dragon, or take a stroll through the trees and trails up to the top of the park that has magnificent views of the city. The park was originally supposed to be a housing estate for the upper-middle class looking to escape the industrialized centre of the city, however it didn't prove to be very successful and only Gaudí ended up living there. It was since opened as a public park and has been a huge success in that regard ever since. 

Torre Bellesguard: Though the building has always been known to be from Gaudí, it differs in the sense that it is his attempt to restore a neo-gothic structure that an Aragon King used to reside in. This makes for an interesting visit as it blends traditional and classical neo-gothic ideas masterfully with Gaudí's unique style. It opened in September 2013 to the public for tours, though you'll need to book in advance as they're popular.