Gaudi | Buildings and Life of the Best Spanish Architect

by Mladen

Antoni Gaudi is the most famous Spanish architect. His buildings have personality, and his style remained unique and impossible even for modern architects.

Antoni Gaudi was leading architect of Catalan modernism. During his life he worked with unique style, trying to integrate nature into architecture. Details, ornaments, were very important to Gaudi, and he was giving his best to create art even if the simple chimney was the subject. There was no such word as simple in Gaudi's vision of architecture.

Gaudi, Spanish Architect: Buildings (Roof)
Gaudi, Spanish Architect: Buildings (Roof)

Introducing Antoni Gaudi: the Most Famous Spanish Architect

Antoni Gaudi, Spanish and Catalan architect was born on September 25th, 1852 in Reus, small town in Catalonia, Spain. His birth was never documented, so no one knows for sure if he was actually born in this town. Some other sources mention neighboring town of Riudoms to be his birthplace. 

Living in family involved in pottery business influenced him to create his own style in architecture, later. Pottery experience directed his talent in the way of direct realization of the form in space, without any previous plans or sketches. 

He studied architecture on Faculty of Architecture in Barcelona. After Gaudi graduated, he has found his path in interior design, and furniture design. Gaudi did furniture design mostly for the money. One of his furniture pieces (cabinet made for local kindergarten) was presented on exhibition in Paris. From this moment, his life changes by a lot. Gaudi was noticed by local businessman from Barcelona, Guell. Guell was giving lots of money to this Catalan architect for his works. He paid him well to design for him. This businessman was the one who assigned this Spanish architect for his first great project: Park Guell. From this moment on, Gaudi was mainly working on designing buildings. 

His work was under influence of eastern cultures (Persian, Indian, Chinese, Moorish), and later, when he grew up as an architect, he has discovered Gothic style. But he is the most famous for creating his own style inspired by nature and surrealism. 

Gaudi's most famous buildings:
  • Park Guell,
  • Guell palace,
  • Sagrada Familia,
  • Casa Mila,
  • Casa Batllo,
  • El Capricho,
  • Casa Vincens,
  • College of the Teresians.

Gaudi spent his last 43 year of life trying to finish Sagrada Familia, the greatest project of any Spanish architect. Even, 100 years after its start, this huge project still hasn't been finished. Gaudi made more progress on it in 43 years, than 20 other world architects did with all modern technology. For a long time, finishing Sagrada Familia has been considered as impossible thing to do.

Most of his work was done in Barcelona, and eight of his buildings are under protection of UNESCO. Barcelona is eternal gallery of Gaudi's art!

Spanish Architect Gaudi: Buildings (Park Guell)
Spanish Architect Gaudi: Buildings (P...
Spanish Architect Gaudi: Buildings (Casa Mila)
Spanish Architect Gaudi: Buildings (C...

Gaudi: Park Guell

First serious project of this famous Spanish (Catalan) architect.

Eusebi Guell was local businessman in Barcelona. He was the biggest supporter of Gaudi's work. Spanish architect worked for Guell on many projects (Guell, colony, Guell palace, Guell park, furniture for Palace of Maquis of Comillas, Guell familly tomb, Cellars in Garraf, Guell estate). The most famous one is Guell park.

Eusebi bought piece of land in the hills above Barcelona. Gaudi was administered to work on construction of modern city residential area. After finishing the project in year 1914, this industrialist managed to sell only one third of the area. They declared this project to be a failure. 

Maybe it failed as residential area, but transforming it into park was huge success. Park Guell (Park for similarity to English parks of that time, and Guell in memory of his patron).  

Project was built in his unique and recognizable style with wavy shapes, which remind us on lava; with structures similar to trees, in both shape and function. Gaudi placed mosaics on every corner of this place to make it colorful and vivid. 

Park was designed to offer peace and relaxation for the visitors, just as it is expected of the parks. Whole area is in coexistence with nature. Buildings in the park have been built in unique style of this Catalan architect, but they are not as notable as his other buildings (the ones in the city). He tried to  make room for a nature, and to put every artificial object in service of nature. 

Central place of Guell park takes main terrace surrounded by serpent-shaped bench, covered in mosaic. This bench is the longest one in the world. Gaudi used naked man sitting in clay to make it as ergonomic as possible. 

Spanish Architect Gaudi: Buildings (Park Guell)
Spanish Architect Gaudi: Buildings (P...

Gaudi: Buildings (Casa Batllo)

Casa Batllo was projected by Gaudi for middle class family. It is located in downtown of Barcelona in Str. Passeig de Gràcia 43. This house was finished in 1907, after three years of building. It is one true representative of Antoni's work and style. 

Spanish people call this house Casa dels Ossos (House of the Bones).

Irregular shapes are dominant in the architecture of this Gaudi's building. Major part of fasade is covered in mosaics made of broken ceramic tiles. This style is called trencadis, and Antoni used it to give personal touch to most of his buildings. 

The colorful roof on Casa Batllo reminds on a reptile skin. According to some experts on Gaudi architecture, the roof represents a dragon; the small turret with a cross would represent the sword of St. George stuck into the dragon's back. The skulls and bones on facade of the buidling represent all the victims of the dragon. All of this comes out of his obsession with eastern cultures. 

Spanish Architect Gaudi: Buildings (Casa Batllo)
Spanish Architect Gaudi: Buildings (C...

Gaudi: Buildings (Casa Mila)

Casa Mila was finished in year 1912, after six years of building. La Pedrera is its popular name given by Catalan people. La Pedrera means quarry. It is located in downtown of Barcelona. Its construction was ordered by Mila family.

Casa Mila was built in recognizable style of Gaudi, with very little to no straight lines and surfaces. On the contrary, it has lots of curvy and wavy surfaces and lines. Its facade recalls the ocean waves. Whole building was build of the stone from local quarries, except the roof. Roof is covered by white mosaics made of broken tiles. Chimneys are brought to perfection on this building. They represent soldiers with helmets on their heads. Chimneys are covered in mosaics made of broken glass bottles. 

UNESCO listed Casa Mila in World Heritage List in 1984. 

Today this building is property of bank which restored it few times to preserve its beauty. Fourth floor and the roof are open for visitors, and the access is free. 

Casa Mila (La Pedrera) Chimneys on the Rooftop
Casa Mila (La Pedrera) Chimneys on the Rooftop

Gaudi, Spanish Architect: Buildings (Sagrada Familia)

Sagrada Familia (Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family), is basilica under construction in Barcelona, Spain. Construction on this church started in 1884, and experts are guessing it will be finished in 2026. 

Gaudi was working on Sagrada Familia for 43 years, until he died in 1926. The last 15 years of his life he spent on working on this project. Most of his designing plans were destroyed in Spanish Civil War. 

Looking at Sagrada Familia we can see how deeply was Gaudi in love with Gothic style. He mixed Gothic style and nature in order to find his own art. 

There are three types of facades on this basilica: Glory facade, Nativity facade, and Passion facade. The Nativity facade, the only one anywhere near finished in Gaudí's time, is the eastern-most, the one on which the sun rises (Passion, symbolically, the one on which it sets; Glory, the one on which the sun plays during the day).

According to Spanish government, this is the sight that brings the most visits to Spain.

Order this poster of Sagrada Familia!

Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Barcelona, Spain

Antoni Gaudi's Death

Humiliating death of great man!

While Gaudi was walking down the streets of Barcelona he got hit by tram. Nobody stopped to help him. Taxi drivers didn't want to drive him to the hospital being afraid they won't get paid. Gaudi was placed in the hospital for poor people. His friends have found him in that hospital next day. They wanted to move him to other, better hospital, but he refused.

He died few days later, on June 9th, 1926. Soon, officials of Barcelona pulled back trams off the streets, and since then, Barcelona never returned them back into traffic. 

Updated: 02/06/2013, Mladen
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cmoneyspinner on 10/30/2013

Sad ending. But on the positive note, 8 buildings are protected by UNESCO,

Mladen on 05/26/2012

Thank you, Marko! Gaudi is one of the architects who changed Barcelona the most. Gaudi is the icon there in Barcelona. They are proud of him, and they sure have reason to be... His buildings are magnificent, and everyone should visit them at least once in their life.

Marko on 05/25/2012

Great page, Mladen. Till now I have only heard about Sagrada Familia. After reading this article I realized how many more fantastic buildings Gaudi has built! Thanks for sharing this info with us.

Mladen on 03/26/2012

Thank YOU for your comment, Anne! :)

AnneDollin on 03/26/2012

Thanks for your personal introduction to Gaudi!

Mladen on 03/21/2012

Jwcooney, I am glad to meet an other fan of Gaudi's. Thank you for leaving comment!

Mladen on 03/18/2012

@Violeta: :) I guess one can find countless associations looking at his designs. They are full of different shapes. Thank you for commenting, Violeta!

Mladen on 03/18/2012

@2uesday: It is amazing, indeed. I must admit his art is way better than most of modern architecture. I have impression today is all about steel and glass. We neem more Gaudis :)

VioletaQuisora on 03/17/2012

Fascinating architecture! Some of Gaudi's designs remind me of melting wax!

2uesday on 03/17/2012

I cannot help but think that it is amazing how modern and innovative these designs still look so many years after his death.

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