It may be what Barcelona is best known for – Gaudi’s architectural gems throughout the city. But with high entrance fees at the usual suspects: Casa Batlo, La Pedrero, Park Guell and Segrada Familia, discovering Gaudi’s works can make for an expensive visit to this wonderful Catalan city. However, With lesser-known sites located throughout the city, it’s easy to experience his architectural gems while also seeing the progression in his works.
Least touristic: Bellesguard Tower
Recently opened to the public, it’s worth the confusing bus ride to get to Bellesguard Tower, once the home of the last king of Barcelona and today a private home. While visitors are permitted to roam the grounds at their own pace with the audio-guide, a viewing the inside must be done with one of the very friendly and enthusiastic guides. While living quarters are not on display as the building is a private residence, the real treat is the rooftop terrace.
The residents have created a Facebook page with wonderful images from the property.
Cost: €9 including audio-guide
Getting there: FGC train from Placa Catalunya to Avenue Tibadabo then bus 60, 196 or 123 To Bellesgaurd stop.
Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Best afternoon out: Guell Colony Crypt
Used as the small church on the hill overlooking Colonia Guell, Gaudi built the crypt as a model for La Segrada Familia, but he abandoned before it was completed. I visited in the afternoon when the light seemed to be best.
Plan to wander through Colonia Guell, the small village where the local textiles employees lived and worked in the early- to mid-1900s. The architecture throughout is quite simply beautiful and it makes for a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Barcelona.
Cost: €15.00 including return train fare which can be purchased at the automatic ticket machines
Getting there: Train from Placa Espanya
Open: Weekdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (winter) / 7 p.m. (summer) Weekends 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Least known: Finca Guell
Originally planned as a palace-like residence for the Guell family in the city centre, today it appears to only be a main gate and small park. The site is open by guided tours on weekends only at 10:15 a.m. in English. Having visited during the week, I was only able to see the outside, including the impressive iron-work dragon that decorates the gate.
Getting there: Take the subway to the Palau Reial.
Opening hours: 10:15 English tour on Saturdays and Sundays
Best place for a break: Casa Calvet
As it’s a private residential building, access is not permitted. However the fancy chocolate shop on the building’s ground floor makes for a perfect sweet stop!
Getting there: Wander off Passeig de Gracia just before Plaza Catalunya
Walking past: Casa Vicens
Gaudi’s first work, Casa Vicens is worth detour off Passeig de Gracias to see this colourful residential building. Described by some as an Arabian-nights style building, it’s interesting to see his first work and how it changed over the years.
Getting there: Wander off Passeig de Gracias well past Casa Batlo.
Best audio-guide: Palau Guell
Located just off La Ramblas, the design of the home reminded me of Moroccan kasbahs with space for the horse and carriages on the ground floor, entertaining areas on the first-floor and gorgeous rooftop terraces. Though the building is quite dark with limited sunlight, the audio guide brings this place to life!
Getting there: Look for signs off La Ramblas near Liceu subway stop
Absolute favourite: La Segrada Familia
As the afternoon sunlight floods through the stunning stained glass the interior of La Segrada Familia fills with purples and yellows through the stunning stained glass, creating a perfect little retreat from the bustle of the city. And the outside, oh my! Words cannot describe how beautiful it is!
Favourite residential building: Casa Batlo
The fairy-tale like exterior facade, gorgeous woodwork and an underwater theme with blue hues throughout makes this my ultimate Gaudi residential work. The rooftop terrace is equally delightful and after visiting a few Gaudi works, you’ll soon start to notice a theme. Don’t miss the fireplace located on the first floor.
Getting there: Passeig de Gracias subway stop
Apartment I’d most like to live in: La Pedrera
Perhaps one of the most visited and well-known Gaudi buildings (and one of the reasons I resisted visiting until my most recent visit), the rooftop terrace housing creative chimneys also provides great views of the Barcelona skyline including La Segrada Familia and the Agbar Tower.
Cost: €20.00 including audioguide
Getting there: Passeig de Gracias
Most fairy-tale like: Park Guell
If this planned residential complex were ever finished, I would want a house here. I love fairy tales and wandering through the park reminds me of Hansel and Gretel.
Getting there: Subway to Lesseps station
Looking down: Passeig de Gracias
These underwater-themed tiles were originally designed for the nearby Casa Batlo but now beautify the sidewalk along Passeig de Gracias. Seems only fitting given Gaudi has two works here.
Have you been to Barcelona? What’s your favourite Gaudi work?