Who was Antoni Gaudí?

    Gaudí is one of the most emblematic figures in Spanish architecture. He’s known throughout the world as a prestigious architect and designer. Designated as ‘modernisme’, his work has left a long-standing imprint on the architecture of Barcelona. Here are a few key moments in his life story…

    Antoni Gaudí was born in Reus, in Catalonia in 1852. It was the beginning of quite an extraordinary destiny. After graduating from the Barcelona School of Architecture in 1878 he immediately showed great boldness, and in fact worked alongside the architect Josep Fontseré (one of the best at the time) on the project for Ciutadella Park. However it was in 1883 when his career really took off, as construction began on Casa Vicens.

    In the beginning his inspiration came from a neo-gothic style, but his own individual character soon took shape, based on utter originality and fantastical projections. This new direction was modernisme. The whole concept revolved around using lots of shapes and geometrical plays on space, as well as relying heavily on integrating the colours of nature. Gaudí believed that the secret of beauty lay in nature and that it definitely didn’t lie in straight lines! Marine landscapes were one of his favourite themes.

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    Gaudí: key dates

    25/06/1852 Born in Reus, Catalonia

    1883 Given the project of the Sagrada Familia

    1884 Meets Eusebi Güell, rich and religious industrial businessman, and they become friends

    1910 Through Eusebi Güell, his work is exhibited at the Grand Palace

    10/06/1926 Death of Gaudí. On dispensation of the Pope, he is buried in the crypt of the Sagrada Família. At this time the only part finished was the Saint-Barnabé tower in the first portico.

    1936 Numerous religious monuments are attacked during the civil war. Gaudí’s tomb closely avoids profanation.

    1969 Seventeen of his creations are declared national monuments in Spain.

    1998 Start of the process for Gaudí’s beatification.

    2010 The Sagrada Família becomes a basilica.

    Some of Gaudí’s works

    The Sagrada Família

    Sagrada1Meaning ‘the holy family’, this is undoubtedly Gaudí’s most famous monument and the most representative of his imagination and genius. It’s one of the most important landmarks in Barcelona. The architect dedicated his life to completing this work, which unfortunately remained unfinished at the time of his death.

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    Park Güell

    Parc-GuellCommissioned by Count Eusebio Güell, this was a project that Gaudí designed and directed. It was originally conceived as a site for around 60 villas and public buildings such as restaurants and schools, but rapidly became a real financial drain. In the end only two houses were actually built, and Gaudí lived in one of them from 1906 to 1926. Today it houses the Casa-Museu, which is a museum that retraces his life and exceptional talent.

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    Casa Batlló

    This building was restored by Gaudí for the Batlló family. It displays a real abundance of shapes and motifs while emanating a true sense of serenity – no mean feat on the busy Passeig de Gràcia. The balconies resemble Venetian masks and the wavy façade is made from a glass and ceramic mosaic that actually appears to move in the sunlight. Gaudí created some of his very best interior designs in this particular building.

    DSC01434 Casa-Battlo
    The controversy

    Gaudí’s work was roundly criticised by many of his contemporaries. However, he did have a number of supporters – mainly his own clients, as well as the ecclesiastical world, and the Catalan industrial bourgeoisie. Like many great artists and respected geniuses neither he nor his work were actually recognised until long after his death.

    A pronounced taste for defying the rules, such as insisting on speaking Catalan in public, caused him a few problems over the years and created the suspicion in some that he was somewhat of an opportunist.

    The legacy – admired for audacity

    Gaudí’s buildings have stood the test of time, and today feature among the most important tourist attractions in Barcelona. What’s more, this famous Catalan is recognised by specialists and the general public alike for his originality and vision.

    Which is your favourite Gaudí project? What’s your opinion of this artist?


    1. My personal favorite is La Pedrera. The shape of this building fascinates me. It’s certainly unique in a way that only a talented artist like Gaudi can do.

      • Hi Dean,
        Thanks for the comment!
        La Pedrera is certainly one of his most famous works, but is completely unique from anything else on the planet, as you rightly say.

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