Barcelona has so much to offer tourists, so where should you start? Where are the best places to visit in Barcelona? We suggest that no visit would be complete without checking out the modernist treasures left by Anthony Gaudi. His work is so iconic that not only has it shaped the skyline of the city, but his vanguard modernist flair influenced much of the architecture in Barcelona.
The diversity of his work and the stories that surround it have a lot of curb appeal. Even those who are normally more interested in the beach than culture, still want to know a little about the Sagrada Familia.
So we will start our Best Places to Visit in Barcelona, Top 5 Gaudi Attractions with the mighty church that dominates the skyline of Barcelona.
The most famous of Barcelona’s tourist attractions is the Sagrada Familia. Also known as the ‘unfinished church’, the story around the construction of the church is as fascinating as the building itself. The church was the brainchild of the famous architect Anthony Gaudi. It was his last project before he died, and where he applied everything he had learned from previous projects, plus all of his distinctive artistic flair.
The first stone of the Sagrada Familia was laid in 1883! The planned completion date of the church is 2026, which would mark 100 years since the untimely death of Gaudi. After his death, faithful collaborators carried on working from the plans and visions he left to keep the project alive.
The sheer size of the Basilica is something that attracts Barcelona tourists to visit the space. A unique feature is its dominating height, which gives an impressive feel of vastness. Inside the columns reach up to 45m before they reach the vaults. There is an ambitious plan for the central tower to reach 172.5 meters, which will make the Barcelona Church the tallest religious building in Europe.
It is also the intricately detailed symbolism on the facades of the Sagrada Familia that makes for such an interesting visit. The 3 facades depict The Nativity, The Passion, and The Glory.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site is the most visited tourist attraction in Spain and very worthy of the top spot on our Best Places to Visit in Barcelona. It is important to book your visit in advance.
The number 2 spot on our best Gaudi places to visit in Barcelona is Park Guell. This is a wonderful natural space in the north of the city, and another of Gaudi’s works which is a Unesco World Heritage site. The park was commissioned by Eusebi Guell, one of Gaudi’s best clients.
Gaudi was influenced by nature and curves, and he applied this to the design of the park. There are wonderful examples of his trencadis technique, which is a distinct style of mosaic work. The park is also home to one of Barcelona’s most iconic images, the Gaudi Dragon. A souvenir photo is a must here!
The park’s location allows you to enjoy one of the best views of the city. You can see across the whole of Barcelona, all the way down to the mediterranean sea.
Take a leisurely stroll around the park and enjoy it all in your own time. It is a popular Barcelona Tourist attraction and you do need tickets to access Park Guell.
To visit both Park Guell and Sagrada Familia with transport included, we have the perfect tour for you here.
Casa Batllo is undeniably one of Gaudi’s artistic masterpieces. The house sits on the famous boulevard ‘Passeig de Gracia’. It is one of a row of four buildings, by renowned modernist architects, known as the ‘Row of Discord’. Within this row, it is the eye-catching Gaudi building that really turns heads. Some locals refer to it as the ‘house of bones’ due to the skeletal feel of the balconies and supporting beams in the window frames. Casa Batllo has many of Gaudi’s distinct ‘trademarks’ such as his tribute to nature with a lack of straight lines and his use of broken tile mosaics (called Trencadis) that fills the facade of the building.
Some of the beauty of the building can be enjoyed from the exterior, but we do recommend visiting the inside. The terrace allows you to see the roof which is said to resemble the back of a dragon. The loft is also worth a visit to see the 60 catenary arches which are said to represent the ribcage of an animal.
Given the unique nature of Casa Batllo, the long queues are understandable, so we do suggest getting your ticket before!
Casa Mila is also known as La Pedrera and is one of two Gaudi buildings on Passeig de Gracia. The other we just talked about! The building was commissioned in 1905 by Pere Mila and his wife Roser Segimón. The design was radical for its day and was subjected to much mocking locally.
Again Gaudi was true to the influences of nature, with the building designed as a continuous curve. A key feature of the house is the roof with its multitude of skylights, exits for stairs, chimneys, and fans. These are all highly functional architectural elements that also have merit as stand-alone sculptures. There are splashes of Gaudi’s trademark mosaic style, but much less than in other works of his. Some of the brickwork is covered in lime to achieve contrast alongside the stark twisted steel balconies.
This magnificent building is also one to add to your list of tourist attractions to visit.
The Dragon Gate of Guell Pavilions
The Guell Pavilions and gardens are one of Gaudi’s lesser-known, but no less impressive, pieces of work. It also happens to be one of our favorites, hence its place on this list of best places to visit in Barcelona. This was Gaudi’s first commission by his later patron Eusebi Guell and the first to feature his now trademark trencadis technique.
The aim of the project was for Gaudi to redesign the entrance lodges and garden to the estate owned by Eusebi Guell. Born out of this project was the awe-inspiring dragon gate. The wrought iron is twisted into a mythological serpent-like dragon, complete with a glass eye. The sculpture seems to come to life and roar at you! The gate was inspired by Greek mythology, based on a creature called Ladon, who guarded the Garden of Hesperides.
You could easily miss this gem as it is a little off the normal tourist path in Barcelona, but well worth a visit and is one of the stops on the comprehensive tourist bus routes.
Tickets to all of the above Barcelona tourist attractions are available on our ticket page here.