Architect Antoni Gaudí’s Sagrada Família in Barcelona is expected to be completed—142 years after it was begun—in 2025, but part of the incomplete church’s appeal is its ever-changing tableau. So it’s prime time for a Gaudí pilgrimage—one that goes beyond the famous Família spires. IgoUgo members recommend starting with these five stops.
La Sagrada Família
Start with the most popular thing to do in Barcelona among IgoUgo members, La Sagrada Família itself. “If you have only time enough to visit one sight in Barcelona, La Sagrada Família should be the one,” says Philly_Girl, who, though her legs were quivering, climbed to the top of its towers. Besides getting a sweeping view of Barcelona, she got an inside view of “one of the most stunning architectural designs ever put into action.” Indeed, “the interior is as beautiful as the exterior, with a canopy of trees standing in for structural pillars,” says leblanfo, and “to say that you must see this is an understatement.”
IgoUgo members’ close second-favorite overlooks Barcelona from El Carmel hill and holds as many wonders as the city below. The park’s design is classic Gaudí, as mediterranean_girl’s choice of adjectives suggests: “fanciful,” “magical,” “winding,” “frothing,” “crumbling,” “whimsical,” and “cavernous.” Have your camera ready, because one of the park’s resident mosaics, the lizard, is “extremely photogenic and a perfect background for that ‘quintessential Barcelona shot,’” says haslo04.
“Having visited the Sagrada Família and Park Güell, we wanted to visit one of Gaudí's houses too; the only problem was which one to choose,” says weetoon. She was thrilled with her choice of Casa Milà (or La Pedrera) because its exhibit space allowed her to see the architect’s other projects as well. Of course, the delight of stepping onto the roof terrace in person surpassed seeing Gaudí’s entire body of work in miniature downstairs: “The surface is not flat, but curvy, and functional objects like chimneys and ventilation shafts are given interesting shapes (owls, helmeted warriors, and so on) and textures (broken pottery, marble, even broken champagne bottles).”
Entering this “symbol of Barcelona,” you might feel as though you’ve left the city for another world, says Celia Coene, except that Gaudí “used the theme of the sea all throughout the house, and everywhere you look reminds you of it.” She reports that “the roof looks like fish scales, the walls are curvy like waves, and the balconies look like the bow of a boat.” Some of the design’s features are a bit more earthy, notes billmoy: “Window embellishments include skull-mask balcony railings and bizarre bone-shaped verticals.”
Perhaps less celebrated (and less reviewed—please share!) than Gaudí’s more famous commissioned houses, Casa Vicens is nonetheless a UNESCO World Heritage site as part of the collected Works of Antoni Gaudí. As maurimauri explains, it was built between 1883 and 1888, an important step in the career of the young architect who would become a master. Whether you begin here and make your way to La Sagrada Família, where Gaudi is interred, or you end your tour here where it all began, you’re sure to enjoy a trip tracing the life and work of Barcelona’s most famous son.