If you have never heard of Antoni Gaudi, you’ve probably never been to Barcelona.
Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia
Barcelona’s most celebrated architect, Gaudi elevated Catalan Modernism to world-class status by designing structures as unique today as when built more than a century ago. Using his math and engineering skills, he executed designs that seemingly support themselves, with calculations validated years later by architects armed with computers.
First-time visitors to Barcelona must experience Parque Güell, Palacio Güell and Casa Mila, which are among Gaudi’s seven structures now designated as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. But save Gaudi’s stunning masterpiece — the still uncompleted La Sagrada Familia Cathedral — for last. Gaudi employed stone columns resembling trees and colors of light dancing through stained glass to create a sanctuary harmonious with nature. My two visits there were magical and yours will be too. I recommend touring the cathedral with a guide and a skip-the-line pass because Barcelona’s most visible landmark attracts more than three million visitors annually.
There are many other reasons to visit Barcelona, which experienced a rebirth following the 1972 Olympics after decades of decline. If cruising the Western Mediterranean is in your plans, you likely will land in Barcelona, the world’s third busiest cruise port. A pre- or post-cruise extension in Barcelona is an absolute must.
Stroll down La Rambla, a mile-long street that follows the route of the city’s 13th century wall. Along the way, be sure to visit La Boqueria market for gelato or a cooking class; tour the narrow streets and passageways of the Gothic Quarter; and, if you make it all the way to the sea, admire the Christopher Columbus Column on your way to visit Barcelona’s Maritime Museum. I also recommend spending time in the Picasso Museum, where I actually began to understand the artist’s works for the first time.
Barcelona’s many Tapas restaurants and bars accentuate city nightlife and some even feature Flamingo shows. Time permitting, you might take advantage of Barcelona’s several Mediterranean beach and sailing opportunities, or venture out of the city to experience Catalonian country life and nearby vineyards.
You will marvel at the works of Antoni Gaudi on your initial Barcelona visit and depart hoping to return soon.