Barcelona is considered the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region and is well known for its art and architecture. Dotted across the city, visitors will find a number of landmarks designed by Antoni Gaudi, the June-born architect whose Catalan Modernism vision and imagination defines Barcelona, in many ways. To help you appreciate that, Europesure is giving you a little insight into the top Gaudi attractions.
Which Gaudi sites should we see?
There are numerous attractions around Barcelona, so it is important to plan your time well, to make the most of your trip. Amongst the many Gaudi sites are seven buildings that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage site designation. The buildings that make up the UNESCO treasure are Parque Güell, Palacio Güell, the crypt in Colonia Güell, the Nativity façade and the crypt of La Sagrada Familia and his three former homes, Casa Batlló, Casa Mila and Casa Vicens. Visit these and other attractions with the cost-effective Go City Barcelona Pass, if you want to save money.
However, this is just the tip of the Gaudi iceberg, with over 20 Gaudi sites in Barcelona, all of which may evoke joy or not be to your particular liking, according to your preferences.
To assist you a little, we have an overview of the UNESCO attractions.
This was the last work designed by Gaudi before he committed to La Sagrada Familia (more about that later). It is known as the ‘stone quarry’, due to resembling the façade of an open quarry. This may not sound spectacular but it features quirky and beautiful chimneys and the inside of the building is a fairy tale of shapes and colours.
Gaudi House Museum at Park Güell
The house museum was Gaudi’s home from 1906 to 1925. The house still contains Gaudi’s original furniture and is the most recent home associated with him, as it is the one in which he lived until a year before his death. This provides phenomenal insight into who the mature Gaudi was and how he lived life in his final years.
Bright colours, amazingly themed rooms and eye-catching curved architecture all make Casa Batllo a wonderfully unique building for the visitor to enjoy. To make the most of the experience, take advantage of a virtual reality app, which guides visitors through the house and brings his vision to life.
This is possibly one of the most beautiful parks you will ever see worldwide and one of the many gifts that Gaudi left for Barcelona as a result of his work. Breathtaking views over Barcelona make a visit to the park a must and you may well find yourself lost in a reverie for hours, as the park was a labour of love for Gaudi and is filled with colourful mosaics that you will be compelled to explore.
La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia is considered to be Gaudi’s most elaborate work in Barcelona and is certainly one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Whilst its stunning spires dominate the skyline, its exterior is often a topic of debate, with some considering the cathedral to be over-the-top and others viewing it as an undisputed masterpiece and architectural treasure. The view afforded from the spires is something to behold but probably not an experience for those who do not like heights or who find winding corkscrew staircases claustrophobic. Unfortunately, there is no lift down and the staircase is the only option.
However, if you can face that, the resulting views are well worth the effort. Buying tickets in advance will help you avoid the very long queues, but you will face a choice of spire. The Passion Towers is the one for which to opt if you wish to view the ocean, whilst the Nativity Towers will offer a lovely vista of the mountains.
Church of Colònia Güell: Gaudi’s Crypt
The crypt is located on the outskirts of the city, in a former industrial village, and is definitely worth visiting, as this is an unfinished church that encompasses all of Gaudi’s most notable styles within one building. Check out the broken mosaic tiling, the catenary arches and the integration of materials into their natural surroundings.
The Palau or Palacio is located just off Las Ramblas – the iconic, lively street at the heart of Barcelona – so very easy to explore as you wander the city. Palacio Güell is a truly magnificent Art Nouveau building, designed for a particular wealthy client, with fabulous Gaudi features, including oval entrances, originally designed to allow entry by horse-drawn carriage by the many guests who would arrive to have fun in the party room, which you can explore inside.
Despite all of these fabulous buildings, Barcelona is not just about Gaudi and has a lot more to offer. Other things you could make time to do include:
Grabbing a bite at Santa Caterina Market
Rub shoulders with the locals and sample delicious food in at the Santa Caterina Market. Alternatively, grab some fresh tapas at Cuines Santa Caterina on-site restaurant, which serves delicious local favourites all day.
Strolling along Las Ramblas
Take in the lively Las Ramblas area, where locals and tourists come together to take in the lively atmosphere and watch street artists perform. This street never sleeps, so take a few hours to soak up the energy.
Taking in the sights of the Gothic Quarter
In the centre of the old city, you’ll find the cobbled streets of the Gothic Quarter, where some great events in history were played out. This is the area in which the artist Picasso lived but it also features Ernest Hemingway’s old drinking establishment and a monument that marks Christopher Columbus’s first voyage to America.
Is Barcelona a safe city?
Whilst Barcelona is considered a relatively safe city, as with all big conurbations it isn’t without risks. The most common problem is pickpocketing and, whilst muggings with violence are extremely rare, they do occur - typically late at night in non-tourist areas. To avoid a crime ruining your break, don’t carry valuables unnecessarily or flash your wealth. Always be aware of your surroundings and people around you and try not to make it obvious you’re a tourist (put the map away or go into a café when you need to take a look at it). Watch your bag when in cafés and restaurants, do not leave your phone on a table, avoid dark isolated back streets and never leave your belongings unattended.
Anything can happen, however, whether that is tripping over a paving stone and incurring an injury or losing your passport. Cover against potential medical expense costs and financial losses, by ensuring you have adequate travel insurance in place before you travel and, ideally, from the moment you book your trip.
To find out more about the range of policies available visit www.europesuretravelinsurance.com