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Spectacular Gaudí in Barcelona and Tarragona

In this Blog two wonderful tours, one in Barcelona along Gaudí's most famous works, and one in Gaudí's hometown of Reus (10 minutes from the city of Tarragona). Finally, an interesting comparison between the architecture of Gaudí and the Amsterdam School.

Antonio Gaudí is one of the most remarkable and well-known architects of the 19th and 20th centuries. As the founder of Catalan modernism, he is an international legend who has lastingly changed our view of modern architecture. In Barcelona are his greatest masterpieces, a must to visit. We will therefore first start here with a beautiful tour.

Gaudí tour in Barcelona

In a tour of around 8 km you can visit the most famous works of Gaudí in Barcelona. A unique set of beautiful architecture so close to each other. You can do this on foot, by bike or with the hop-on hop-off bus from Barcelona Turístic. Find the special Gaudí page here if you want to go by bus (in Spanish and English).

If you have less time, you can of course pick only one or more masterpieces to visit. My advice is to order tickets online in advance to avoid waiting times. Below is a brief overview of all 7 masterpieces by Gaudí that you will pass with this route (in order of the route).

1. Palau Güell

Our starting point is Palau Güell, located on a side street off the famous Ramblas. Even before Gaudí was known, Count Güell commissioned him in 1885 to build a house for him. The house would be used for exhibitions and concerts. Remarkable is the magical contrast between the ground floor (with its strict, gray marble) with the colours, shapes and ceramics of the twenty chimney sculptures on the roof.

Address: Carrer Nou de la Rambla, 3-5, Barcelona

2. Casa Calvet

We first walk all the way through the Ramblas, turn right at Plaça de Catalunya, and arrive at Casa Calvet, which Gaudí built for the textile manufacturer Pere Màrtir Calvet. His business was located on the ground floor and basement, and his private home on the upper floors. Casa Calvet is a tribute to the Catalan Baroque, built with stone from Montjuïc and has beautiful wrought iron on the balconies. Calvet's old fabric shop is now a restaurant

Address: Carrer de Casp, 48, Barcelona

3. Casa Batlló

We then walk into the street 'Passeig de Gràcia' where there are two famous works by Gaudí. Starting with Casa Batlló, one of his most daring works. A large impressionist painting. Such as the circles of glazed ceramics, the brittle fragments ('trencadís') of colored glass and on top of the scaly ceramic skin. Inside are the ceramic courtyard, the double attics with chain arches and the roof with its colorful chimneys.

Address: Passeig de Gràcia, 43, Barcelona

4. Casa Milà (La Pedrera)

Further down the same street we find Casa Milà. It is best known as La Pedrera (Spanish for stonemason) because of its rugged appearance: like an open quarry. It consists of two blocks of flats, interconnected by interior patios and with a common facade. It was Gaudí's last civil work.

La Pedrera can be visited both during the day and at night. The La Pedrera apartment is a model of a house from the early 20th century.

Address: Passeig de Gràcia, 92, Barcelona

5. Sagrada Familia

The Basilica of the Sagrada Família is Antoni Gaudí's most famous work and the undisputed symbol of Barcelona. Unique in the world. Construction started in 1882 and is expected to be completed around 2026. Gaudí dedicated himself to this colossal basilica until his tragic death in 1926. Thanks to the preserved models and drawings, Gaudí's work could be continued. From the basilica you can climb the towers, on foot or by elevator, with beautiful views over Barcelona.

Address: Carrer Mallorca, 401 Barcelona

6. Parc Güell

Parc Güell is the ultimate interweaving of nature and architecture, an ideal place to take a break. Eusebi Güell, the patron saint of Gaudí, envisioned an ambitious real estate project with 40 homes. Only two were built, one of which was occupied by Gaudí himself and is currently a museum. He worked on this unique park between 1900 and 1914. Characteristic are the famous colored ceramic dragon; the impressive space with 86 columns that bear the weight of the large square above; and the undulating bench around that square.

Address: 08024 Barcelona

7. Casa Vicens

We continue to the quiet neighborhood of Gràcia, where Casa Vicens is located, which is also the end point of our tour. It was built as a summer home for the stockbroker Manel Vicens y Montaner. It is Gaudí's first building in Barcelona and is considered one of the first masterpieces of modernism. Noteworthy are the cast iron gate at the entrance and the decoration in Mudejar style (with Moorish influences). Within Casa Vicens the rooms are still in their original condition.

Address: Carrer de les Carolines, 20-26, Barcelona

Tour in Gaudí's birthplace Reus (Tarragona)

It is here in Reus that Gaudí was born in 1852, the son of the impecunious coppersmith Francesc Gaudí i Serra. Gaudí was the youngest of five brothers, only three of whom reached adulthood. It was not until he was seventeen that Gaudí left to study architecture in Barcelona.

The Gaudí walking tour in Reus may be less spectacular than Barcelona's, but a wonderful way to get to know authentic Reus (and only 10 minutes from Tarragona city). The route is about 2 km long.

Below is a brief overview of the 6 places you will visit with this route (in order of the route).

A. Casa natal Gaudí

The route starts where it all began, Gaudí's birthplace. There is some doubt as to whether Gaudi was ultimately born in Reus or Riudoms, but Reus seems the most plausible. The house belonged to mother's family and on the ground floor was father's boiler workshop. The house is private and unfortunately cannot be visited. Nearby is the sculpture of Gaudí as a boy, by Artur Aldomà.

Address: Carrer de Sant Vicenç, 4, Reus

B. Gaudí Centre

Then we walk to the Gaudí center, located in the beautiful historic center of the city of Reus. A three-storey interactive museum of Gaudí's work and life. The center was inaugurated in 2007.

Adres: Plaça del Mercadal, 3, Reus.

C. Casa Navàs

A little further on the same square is the beautiful Casa Navàs, one of the most important modernist buildings in Reus. It was not designed by Gaudí but by the Catalan architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the man who has always stood in Gaudí's shadow.

Casa Navàs was built between 1901 and 1908 and everything is still in its original state, such as the lights, the furniture, the embroidered tapestries, the household linen, etc.

Address: Plaça del Mercadal, 5, Reus.

D. Iglesia Prioral de San Pedro

If we continue, we arrive at the 15th century Priory Church of San Pedro. Gaudí was baptized here the day after his birth.

The church is built on a Romanesque church and most characteristic is its bell tower: in Gothic style and 63 meters high. The Priory Church of San Pedro is freely accessible.

Address: Plaça Sant Pere, Reus

E. IES Salvador Vilaseca

Here at the IES Salvador Vilaseca, an old Franciscan monastery, Gaudí attended 5 'cursos de ballicherato' (high school). The building was built in the fifteenth century and used as a prison and blood hospital for the French during the war of independence. Currently it is an educational center.

Address: Calle de Misericordia 12, Reus

F. Santuario de Misericordia

We end the Gaudí route in the Misericordia Sanctuary. It is in Renaissance style and the interior is decorated with beautiful frescoes.

At the end of the 19th century, Gaudí completed a lengthy rebuilding and reconstruction of a damaged part here, but this was ultimately rejected as too daring for the time. A precursor of what was to come…

Address: Plaça Santuari Misericòrdia, Reus

Gaudí and the Amsterdam School

The Amsterdam School is an important Dutch style in architecture and of the same time as Gaudí. The book 'Gaudí and the Amsterdam School' (with contributions from scientists from Spain and the Netherlands) therefore sees many similarities between the two. At first I was skeptical about this comparison. In my view there is a very big difference between the sober, Calvinistic Amsterdam School and the much more exuberant and colorful Gaudí. Gaudí himself was not very fond of art in the Northern countries. According to him, these were countries of science. He said that the architecture belonged in the Mediterranean, not in the cold countries.

However, on second thoughts, there are also clear similarities. For both, nature, its organic form language, craft and traditional materials form the basis of their designs. They also both embraced new techniques and production processes. As soon as you zoom in on the details, and put them side by side, the similarities and differences come to the fore. I personally think that the chimneys on 'Het Schip' by Michel de Klerk and that of 'La Pedrera' by Gaudí are a good example of this. See below the photos of both chimneys side by side.

Well, there is indeed a difference. Gaudí is unique and any comparison is therefore difficult. See below a short film with buildings from the Amsterdam School and below that a film about Gaudí in Barcelona.

To judge for yourself, but above all: to enjoy!


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