Visit the best architecture Barcelona has to offer!
There’s one thing that’s a guarantee when you visit Barcelona - you won’t be short of stunning architecture to explore. With such a variety to offer, from traditional buildings to modern skyscrapers, you won’t be disappointed!
Here, we will show you some of the best architecture to visit when you come to Barcelona.
La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia is an exceptional piece of architecture, with regards to its origins and purpose. It was the work of architect Antoni Gaudi that brought the basilica to life over 140 years ago and remains in construction today, with an expected completion date of 2026. The project actually began with a different architect who used architectural features of the time to design the basilica however, issues with regards to the cost of materials resulted in the architect being dismissed and a new up and coming architect, Gaudi, to be hired. Gaudi took the project in a different and new direction and designed the church of the future.
Opened in 2005, Torre Glòries has become an icon of Barcelona. It is an efficient and avant-garde, high-tech building that respects the city and represents what Barcelona is.
There are two layers to the building. The first is made up of aluminium sheets lacquered in 26 different colours in earth, red, blue, green, and grey tones that fade the higher they go. The second layer is created with 52,744 transparent and translucent panes of glass which are designed to evoke shiny smooth water.
The colours of the building represent the temperature of it, with warmer colours at the bottom that symbolise the earth and cooler colours at the top, with more blue tones.
The building is sustainable, with an intelligent air conditioning system that has natural thermal insulation materials and ones with low heat transfer. In addition, it is said to be sensitive to the impact it has on nature and adapts to its surroundings.
Casa Batllo is another of Gaudi’s best known works in Barcelona. Although it may not be known, the building was actually designed by Gaudi’s teacher. The building was austere and the idea was to knock it down but Gaudi decided that it would be better to do a full renovation instead and transformed it from a classic style building into a modernist masterpiece that is full of novel ideas and creativity.
There are so many interesting ideas and features both within the house and on the outside. Being able to get an equally distributed amount of light throughout the house was important and led to the central patios being the main sources of light for the building. With lighter blue tiles on the wall at the bottom and darker ones as they go up, along with larger windows the lower the level, Gaudi was able to bring lots of light into the house.
An efficient ventilation system is a key feature of the building, with special openings in the windows that made it possible to regulate air with precision and removed the need for the windows to be fully open.
A well known design feature of Gaudi’s work is Trencadis - the broken mosaic designs on many of his works. The facade is of particular prominence for this technique and was a favourite for Gaudi due to its sustainability and aesthetic value.
It is not always obvious at first glance but the building has a wavy facade. It was designed to represent the calm sea and create a special light effect. It is particularly beautiful in the early morning and late evening.
There’s nothing in the house that isn’t spectacular, with the cathedral glass that adorns each landing. It appears as if you are under the sea or looking into crystal-clear waters that hide wonderful treasures.
With so much to see and many more features to explore, this is a must visit when coming to Barcelona.
On top of the foundations of the primitive paleochristian basilica, and of the later Romanesque Cathedral, the current Gothic-style Cathedral was built. The works began on May 1, 1298, during the pontificate of Bishop Bernardo Pelegrí and the reign of Jaime II of Aragon, the Just; and they were practically completed in the middle of the 15th century, in the time of Bishop Francisco Clemente Sapera and when Alfonso V was King of Aragon.
Three stages can be distinguished during the one hundred and fifty years that the works lasted: in the first, the entire building was planned and the construction of the apse with the radial chapels, the presbytery with its altar and the crypt, and the false transept were carried out; then the three naves with their respective side chapels were extended up to the level behind the choir; Finally, the construction of the basilica continued up to the line of the façade, which was later closed with a simple wall (1417). The cloister was finished in 1448.
At the end of the 19th century, the Barcelona industrialist Manuel Girona Agrafel offered to pay for the work on the façade and its two side towers, which was carried out according to the plans of the architect Josep O. Mestres, inspired by the initial project that had already been drawn up in the 15th century. The sons of Mr. Girona completed their father's company with the construction of the dome, which was completed in 1913.
Eusebi Güell gave Antoni Gaudi the assignment of drawing up plans for the development of an estate for well-off families on a large property he had acquired. It was an unbeatable location with spectacular views of the city. Allowance was made for 60 triangular-shaped plots on the estate, with a complex network of paths, viaducts and steps to cope with the lie of the land. Guell wanted to recreate the British residential parks which is why he named it Park Guell in English. The vegetation was respected by Gaudi, with new Mediterranean species being added that were suitable to the climate.
October 1900 was when the work began, with events being held within the great square as early as 1907. The first person to buy a plot in the Park was a friend of Güell, lawyer Mart Trías, in 1902. Gaudi also moved in in 1906 with his father and niece.
However, the complex conditions for sale of the plots, the lack of a suitable transport system, and the highly exclusive character of the development made it unviable and the works were abandoned in 1914, with only two of the sixty houses having been built. It therefore became a large private garden and was also used for public events. When Güell died in 1918, the heirs offered the park to the City council which agreed to purchase it. It was then opened as a municipal park in 1926.
Palau de la Música Catalana
The Palau de la Música Catalana was constructed between 1905 and 1908 by the modernist architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner.
The building is one of the most important in catalan modernism and is the only concert hall declared world heritage status by UNESCO. Built around a central metal structure that is covered in glass, it transforms the concert hall into a magical music box when light shines through. It also has lots of mosaic embellishments, sculptures, stained glass, and forged metal.
La Pedrera is one of Gaudi's best known pieces of architecture.
Situated in Passeig de Grácia, which was the most important avenue in Barcelona in the 1900s, the building was created for Pere Milá and Roser Segimon, in which they would stay on the main floor and rent out the rest of the apartments.
The project gained lots of attention and articles were published in magazines including L’edificació Moderna.
There were many ingenious architectural features. Here are just some of the key features:
The façade of La Pedrera is not a structural element: rather than serving the traditional function of load-bearing wall, it is instead a curtain wall. The blocks of stone are connected to the structure by metal components, thereby making the large windows in the frontage possible.
There are three types of stone in the façade: limestone from the Garraf in the lower parts and in some of the structural elements; stone from Vilafranca del Penedès for the bulk of the façade; and limestone from Ulldecona for some of the features, including the frames of some of the windows.
Wrought Iron Framework
The complex and expressive wrought-iron grilles of the 32 balconies of La Pedrera were made using scrap iron sheets, bars and chains in an unusual but remarkably effective accumulation that complements the architecture and provides a decorative element. They are regarded as the forerunners of abstract sculpture of the 20th century.
The photograph shows a detail of the first iron railing of what was the show apartment, flat 2n 2a on the second floor above Milà’s main residence. Gaudi personally oversaw the making of this grille in the workshops of the Badia brothers in Barcelona. The various parts of the grilles are joined together by screws and rivets.
Gaudi constructed the attic on the floor slab of the top storey. To avoid adding to the weight of the building, he used 270 catenary arches made of brick to support the roof terrace. The catenary arch is light, easy to build, supports itself and needs no buttressing.
Originally, the attic of Casa Mila housed the communal laundry area and acted as a vast insulating air chamber. Today, it is home to the Gaudi Exhibition, a unique display devoted to Gaudi’s life and work, particularly La Pedrera, presenting his creations by means of models and plans, objects and designs, photographs and videos.
The roof terrace
The roof of Casa Mila (La Pedrera) not only seals the building against the elements but also reveals three of Gaudi’s concerns: insulation, lighting and ventilation.
On the rooftop, we find order, beauty and tremendous functionality in the built features: stairwells, ventilation towers and chimneys.