Antoni Gaudí’s first residential work—the Casa Vicens—is now open to the public, making it the perfect time to explore the famed architect’s lasting imprint on Barcelona.
Aesthetically speaking, Barcelona is practically synonymous with Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí. The modernist’s style combines Catalan and Moorish architecture to a surrealistic effect: Balcony railings seem to melt, rooftops come festooned with towers of berries, and columns mimic trees sprouting from a forest floor.
While some of his signature spaces aren’t currently available to view—the restaurant in the Baroque-inspired Casa Calvet was recently shuttered after more than 20 years in business, and portions of the coolest parts of Park Güell are currently closed for renovation—Gaudí’s first residential project, Casa Vicens, opened to the public for the first time in November 2017. Be among the first to set foot inside the newly accessible site, and then keep the Gaudí theme going with our curated guide to five essential stops within Gaudí’s Barcelona.
The first home designed by Gaudí, Casa Vicens was commissioned as a private summer house and completed in 1885; privately owned ever since, the property only opened for public visitation this past fall. Opt in for the guided, one-hour tour to spot Gaudí’s bright and playful celebrations of nature, including papier-mâché olive leaves that cover one ceiling and ceramic ivy vines that stretch across another.
Easily the most impressive of all of his buildings, the sandstone Sagrada Família was Gaudí’s last design and has famously remained under construction since the project began in 1882. Considered by many to be the most striking sight in the city, the Gothic-inspired structure was designed with 18 towers, although only eight are complete. (You can buy a special ticket to climb the towers for superlative city views.) While the building isn’t scheduled to be completely finished until 2028, it is already functioning as a working basilica: Step inside to admire the brilliant stained-glass windows, the building’s cross-inspired shape, and the statues depicting geese, turtles, berries, cabbages, and more. The dream-like design has surprises around every corner, inside and out, so take your time here to appreciate the rich details.
Also known as La Pedrera, this former home set on the elegant Passeig de Gràcia was renovated by Gaudí in the early 20th century. Inside, view his famously ergonomic furniture, modernist moldings and fixtures, and spectacularly patterned wood floors, as well as an exhibit featuring models of the architect’s major works. But it’s the undulating rooftop—a series of staircases and walkways with statue-topped chimneys—that steals the show. Our advice? Come on a Friday or Saturday evening from June through September, when the space offers live jazz performances on the rooftop.
Surrounded by gardens, this beloved urban park boasts Gaudí-designed touches via colorful mosaics, ergonomic benches, and the famous tiled lizard sculpture. The sprawling preserve’s hills offer great views of Barcelona, but take note: A $5.5 million restoration means that some of the architectural sites and fountains are currently closed. Still, on a warm and breezy day, Park Güell is a lovely spot to stretch your legs and take in those very Instagrammable city rooftops.
An apartment building that Gaudí completed renovations on in 1906, Casa Batlló has a vibrant tiled facade that was inspired by the sea. The site also offers eclectic live music on the terrace from May through November, where you might catch pop, folk, jazz, or flamenco.