The Man Who Made Barcelona
The Architect of Barcelona: Antoni Gaudi
Many people are familiar with Barcelona, a beautiful and popular city in wonderful northeastern Spain. However, many may not know about the man behind some of Barcelona's famous parks, churches and unique buildings, seven of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Have you ever heard of La Sagrada Familia church or El Parque Guell? If so, then it is worth giving some credit to the man behind these brilliant structures: Antoni Gaudi.
Who was Gaudi?
Gaudi was an architect from Spain. Born in 1852 in the Cataluña region of northeastern Spain, Gaudi went to an architecture school in Barcelona before becoming a professional architect.
Gaudi would develop a love for nature, God and religion from a young age and through out his life. It was these passions that would heavily influence his designs and architectural style, making them some of the most unique of Barcelona and Spain.
Gaudi's unique style and love of nature was reflected a great deal in the curvature of his designs. For example, some of the homes he was hired to design for prominent Spanish families ended up with curved edges, curved roofs and curved balconies, reflecting the curves in the ocean waves that Gaudi so loved. This type of design was something quite new and innovative in its time (and probably would be today!) and was not initially well received by the public.
Gaudi Sites in Barcelona
Now that you know a little about Gaudi, learn some more about his designs. Some of Gaudi's most famous works in Barcelona include:
La Sagrada Familia.
This design of Gaudi's began in 1882 and is still in the works. It is estimated that La Sagrada Familia will be completed by 2026, but really, who knows construction will take even longer. This gothic style cathedral is probably one of Gaudi's most famous designs as millions of people around the world visit the cathedral every year (including myself). Mass services are held daily and people are free to use the church while it is under construction.
El Catedral de La Sagrada Familia or cathedral of the sacred family, again reflects Gaudi's love of nature as nature is incorporated in his designs within and without. Inside the church you will see tree trunk shaped posts and columns and leaves embedded the designs. In addition, the eight spires standing tall over the church are reflective of his modernista style and nature-based curves rather than straight lines.
La Casa Mila.
La Casa Mila is a six story apartment house Gaudi designed for the wealthy Mila family back in the early twentieth century. La Casa Mila is quite extraordinary as each level contains curves rather than straight lines. Even the windows and balconies are curvy, curvy like the ocean waves. The windows contain colorful ceramic pieces, also indicative of Gaudi's architectural style. Gaudi wanted to use ceramic pieces and curves to again reflect an ocean theme. Gaudi also designed the furniture inside La Casa Mila. Some of the chairs, for example, had curved lines just like the outside of the house. Gaudi finished this project by 1912. Mila's wife wanted the family to live on the first floor and then rent on all the floors above. Each floor contained apartments that different families could live in. It said that Mila's wife was not pleased with the inside design and refurnished everything after Gaudi's death.
La Casa Mila is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It still stands today and you can reserve a ticket to go see it if you ever travel to Barcelona.
El Parque Guell.
El Parque Guell is a large park in Barcelona that also designed by Gaudi. The park also contains la casa de Gaudi or the house Gaudi lived in before his death. El Parque Guell contains a rich collection of Gaudi style designs that are reminiscent of a ginger bread house or an image you would see on a postcard.
Gaudi originally intended to design El Parque Guell as a private living community for the upper classes. He even planned to design a shopping center and mall inside. However, the high cost of production halted his endeavor and the private community was later converted to a public site.
El Parque Guell contains some of the unfinished buildings, fountains and colorful ceramic benches so characteristic of Gaudi's style. The colorful ceramic tiles, animal designs and curves continue to reflect Gaudi's bold style, a style that continues to attract so many visitors today.
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