If you are a fan of great architecture, Spain’s capitol city is definitely the place for you to visit. A good part of the credit goes to visionary architect, Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926), who literally transformed the Barcelona skyline during his active years in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Contemporary design has also taken hold in Barcelona, making it an intriguing blend of classical and modern architectural design styles. Other designers have found inspiration within Barcelona’s eclectic design borders, including Marset, Nanimarquina, Bover, Santa & Cole and Vibia, just to name a few.
So, how exactly should an architecture and design lover do Barcelona to make the most of their love?
Hotel Casa Fuster
Built in 1908, the Hotel Casa Fuster features many of the design elements common to the Art Nouveau style, indoors and out. A dramatic Viennese café (complete with serpentine red velvet sofas) and rooftop pool and terrace, which offers great views of the neighborhood.
Contemporary architecture is on full and rather astounding display at the Barcelo Raval. The overall shape of the building is oval, and its interiors are fun, bright and avant garde. Another rooftop terrace offers panoramic views of the city.
The W Barcelona is an enormous glass-clad wedge right near the beach. In case that’s not enough, beautifully designed and furnished restaurants and bars within, and a rooftop terrace without offer great views and plenty of modern design and architectural inspiration.
Sagrada Familia Basilica
Designed by Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudi, the Sagrada Family Basilica is a large, complex church featuring an unusual mix of Gothic and Art Nouveau forms. Construction began in 1882 and has continued intermittently through today. Construction is anticipated to finally be completed in 2026, the centenary of Gaudi’s death.
Another early design by Gaudi, Casa Vicens is a colorful modernist home considered one of the first true examples of Art Nouveau. In it one can also see elements of Moorish Revival. Originally built in 1883, renovations from 1925-1962 added to the building while remaining mostly faithful to Gaudi’s original vision.
After the turn of the century, there was a notable change in Gaudi’s design style toward more naturalistic forms. His design of Park Guell in 1900 is an ideal—and literal—expression of this more organic style. Walkways flow into sculptural buildings just as easily as into decorative gardens. The park is especially renowned for its incorporation of colorful tile mosaics.
Designed by Gaudi in 1904, Casa Batllo is notable for its flowing, sculptural stone work, stained glass windows and iridescent façade, which is covered with colorful broken ceramic tiles. The arched and scaly-looking roof has been likened to a dragon’s back.
Casa Mila/ La Pedrera
Gaudi came back once again to put his signature design mark on Casa Mila, also commonly referred to as La Pedrera. The undulating stone façade and intricate wrought iron balconies were controversial for the time it was built (1906-1912). As of 1984, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On the Gaudi Walking Private Tour, a private guide takes you on a one-day tour of Gaudi’s most famous architecture, including Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Mila and Casa Batllo.
Why not appreciate Barcelona architecture from a new perspective? The Barcelona City and Coast Helicopter Tour flies you along the coast and over Barcelona’s most famous attractions.