The Barcelona of Gaudi
Although Gaudi’s birthplace remains unknown we can certainly state that his legacy is immortalized in Barcelona
The Spanish architect took the streets of Barcelona and filled them with imagination. Helped by loyal clients such as Eusebio Guell, who was a visionary as the architect, Gaudí would put his stamp on Barcelona arguably more than any other individual.
By Fabiola Chirinos
The architect developed a passion for nature while growing up, as he spent much time indoors due to his delicate health and spent his time admiring the shapes of the environment surrounding him. During his career he took inspiration from it to create constructions that did not resemble any other man-made structures. Constructions that broke paradigms and opened new possibilities in architecture. Originally very influenced by the neo-Gothic style while he developed his own voice.
For Gaudí, it was not all about art. Functionality was also an essential part of his job and that is why, besides being different and showy, the buildings had a well thought out structure. Although he rarely made plans and the details were imagined in a fanciful way, his knowledge allowed him to translate his thoughts into reality in a way that would always work as they were intended.
Casa Milá, popularly known as La Pedrera, is a classic example. It was created at the request of Pere Mila i Campos and Roser Segimon i Artelis, a wealthy couple who wanted a building intended as their residence with spaces for rent to tenants. The construction had many obstacles, and when it was finished, no one wanted to rent here because they thought that their curved shapes would prevent the furniture from being placed. One of the possible clients even said that the floor was not flat enough to place her piano, to which Gaudí replied “Madam, I advise you to buy a flute.”
The curves became a predominant figure in the works of Gaudi. He argued that in nature there are no straight lines. And continued working in his own style that followed the figures of the environment while respecting them.
He was a devout catholic and his most important work –La Basílica de la Sagrada Familia (the Holy Family) - is a vision of his beliefs. The planned construction will have a height of 170 meters, three meters less than the hill of Montjuic. His argument was that no human construction should exceed God’s creations.
The Sagrada Familia became a World Heritage Site according to UNESCO, a must see for visitors and an emblematic monument for the city of Barcelona. It is also the best-known work of Gaudí, who was later referred to as the architect of God.
When you visit it, try to climb to one of the towers that are allowed to do so. You will get one of the best views. The body of the architect is buried under the nave, he devoted his last 14 years to this project alone and lived there for 16 years.
When admiring the building, it is good to remember the words of Pope Benedict XVI: “…it is built from the inside out.” You will be able to see certain landscapes of the bible and figures that are usually inside the temples staged on the façade. It is the biblical story narrated in sculpted images. Inside, you will find what many call a concrete forest, its columns resemble the stems of trees and many figures of nature are part of the decoration.
Something similar can be seen in Parc Güell, which was originally designed as a garden city and not as a park. It is one of the works where surrealism surpasses the Gothic style with which Gaudí had worked before. However, the curves, the structures that imitated the natural and the essence of their constructions remained intact.
Since it is located in the upper part of Barcelona, it offers an incomparable view. Surrealism, colors, architecture and nature make the park one of the favorite visits of many. Some areas have free passage, while the most important require the purchase of a ticket. Upon entering you will find the ceramic dragon welcoming from the staircase, stroll through the museum that contains the life of Gaudí and know a little of the city dreamed of both by the architect and by Güell.
The works of Gaudí failed to become residential sites at the time. La Pedrera, with its peculiar façade, was the object of ridicule. There were those who even said that a snake would be better pet than a dog to protect the place. That is why Elias Rogent, the director of the school of architecture when Gaudí finished his studies, said that he did not know if they had given the title to a madman or to a genius adding “only time will tell”.