As the UNESCO comments:
Seven properties built by the architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) in or near Barcelona testify to Gaudí’s exceptional creative contribution to the development of architecture and building technology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These monuments represent an eclectic, as well as a very personal, style which was given free reign in the design of gardens, sculpture and all decorative arts, as well as architecture.
His work is rooted in the particular character of the period, drawing on the one hand from traditional Catalan patriotic sources and on the other from the technical and scientific progress of modern industry. Gaudí’s work is a remarkable reflection of all these different facets of society and has a unique and singular character. In fact, his works are particularly associated with Modernisme, and in this sense, Gaudí can be regarded as the most representative and outstanding of the Modernista architects.
Gaudí’s work is an exceptional creative synthesis of several 19th-century artistic schools, such as the Arts and Crafts movement, Symbolism, Expressionism, and Rationalism, and is directly associated with the cultural apogee of Catalonia. Gaudí also presaged and influenced many forms and techniques of 20th-century Modernism.
Although I’ve visited all the seven properties designed by Gaudí and inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage list, I have to say it was indeed difficult to understand the genius and creativity of this God’s architect. I’ve always heard the saying that “God works in mysterious ways” and I guess his architect works the same way…
Probably for a professional architect it would much easier to understand his methodology and ideology. (It’s not necessarily the case because I have a friend whose major was architecture and now he’s an architecture and when I told him I was writing about Gaudí he said, “Hmmm, it’s hard to understand that weird genius”.) However, for us amateur visitors, it’s not difficult to understand how he did his work but as for why he did his work in this specific way, much more effort is required to figure it out.
Many thanks to the audio guides, exhibitions and experience centers, the tourism office in Barcelona together with the tourism team of each property is really trying to present and explain the life and work of this master architect to us. In my opinion, this also corresponds to the protection and management requirements of the UNESCO. Protection doesn’t mean closing the doors of these sites and only doing research within the professionals. For me, being inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage list means protecting the physical form while spreading the historical, educational, cultural and scientific value among all human beings. If only a few people know and understand these sites, then for whom are they protected?
My experience tells me that in order to understand Gaudí work, it is necessary to understand his life. These two factors are closely related and inseparable from each other. In this case, I’ll first of all introduce to you the Gaudí House Museum, the house in which Gaudí lived for around 20 years before his tragic death, located right next to the monumental zone in Park Güell. Secondly, I’ll recommend you an exhibition center which is really worth visiting, in my opinion. In the third and forth chapter I’ll introduce to you the museum in La Sagrada Familia and the exhibition held in the attic in Casa Milà. Last but not least, I’ll provide you with some information about Gaudí Exhibition Center. I place this exhibition center in the last chapter not because it’s boring or not important but because I didn’t have time to visit it. It was recommended by my friends but when I arrived on the last day of my visit to Barceolona, there was only half an hour left before it was to be closed (my schedule was a bit affected by the National Day of Catalonia). The girl at the ticket office also told me I needed to spend at least an hour in it so I decided to let it go. Anyway, I’ll provide some basic information such as opening hours and tickets prices for you if you have time to go there. Now, let’s take a look at Gaudí House Museum for the start.
1. Casa Museu Gaudí (Gaudí House Museum)
This pink house was designed by Francesc d’Assís Berenguer i Mestres, and Gaudí lived here for nearly 20 years shortly before his tragic death in 1926. It was originally constructed as a show house for the Park Güell residential complex, commissioned by the industrialist Eusebi Güell to Antoni Gaudí. However, after Gaudí’s death, the house was sold as a private residence. On 28th September 1963, this house was opened to the public as the Gaudí House Museum.
Since 1992, the Construction Board of La Sagrada Familia foundation purchased this building and in order to promote the life and work of this genius architect, the house was refurbished to reflect the period of time when Gaudí lived here and to exhibit furniture designed by him as well as his personal belongings.
1.1 Practical information
1.1.1 Opening hours
- October-March: from 10:00 to 18:00
- April-September: from 9:00 to 20:00
- 25th and 26th December& 1st and 6th January: from 10:00 to 14:00
- Ticket office closes 15 minutes before closing time.
1.1.2 Ticket prices
- General: 5.50€
- Student: 4.50€
- Under 30 years old: 4.50€
- Senior: 4.50€
- Disabled: free
- Children under 11 years old: free
You can also buy the combined ticket to visit both the Gaudí House Museum and La Sagrada Familia. For more information about the prices of this combined ticket or book your combined ticket online please click here. If you wanna book online the admission ticket to visit Gaudí House Museum only, please click here.
1.1.3 How to get here
Gaudí House Museum is located in the free access area of Park Güell, next to (outside) the monumental zone. In general you can take:
Metro L3 to Lesseps station and then walk or
Bus 24 & 92 to Carretera del Carmel Entrance or Bus 32, H6 & 116 to Carrer d’Olot Entrance.
Once you arrive at the monumental zone of Park Güell, you won’t miss this pink house. For more detailed information about how to get to the monumental zone please click here to read my post about Park Güell.
Please note that:
- the shop closes 15 mins before the museum
- if you are traveling by group (more than 10 people), reservation in advanced is required. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- the admission ticket to the museum doesn’t include access to the Monumental Zone of Park Güell
- people with reduced mobility could visit the ground floor and the garden
1.2 Explore Gaudí House Museum
Unlike the other museums or exhibition centers of the same general theme, this museum is where Gaudí lived for nearly 20 years, thus providing a more personal touch to his life.
As you can see from the gallery above, this museum can be divided into two parts, Gaudí the designer and Gaudí’s house. The property is made up of two floors plus a garden. On the ground floor the exhibition is more about the furniture and ironwork. For example, the bench in the crypt of the church at Colónia Güell. The bench is one of the last furnishings that Gaudí designed. Here he chose to use iron to gain more solidity and stability. What’s more, there are also furnitures such as hanger and coat of arms, frame, armchair, stool, chair and two-seater bench from Casa Calvet, furnishings from Casa Batlló (a qualitative leap compared to those in Casa Calvet), peepholes and handles for Casa Batlló and Casa Milà and so on. You can also see from the exhibition on the ground floor, especially from the exhibiting items from Casa Calvet, how Gaudí evolved from imitating historic models to inventing his own styles, combining beauty with practicality. It is here you see Gaudí as a designer, who worked down to the last detail when planning his architectural works.
On the first floor, the exhibition is more about Gaudí’s personal life. In 1906, he moved to this house with his father and his niece, and had been living here ever since till late 1925. From the year 1914, he devoted all his life to the construction of La Sagrada Familia and in the last few months, he even moved there to observe and supervise the project. Once you climb up to the first floor, I suggest you go to a “light room” because there’s map of the city of Barcelona, showing where Gaudí’s important works are located. After that, you can enter the most intimate and private room in the house, Gaudí’s bedroom. I was indeed surprised to see that such a great architect lived in such a small and simple bedroom. What a simple and humble life he was living! This bedroom also testifies his strong Christian convictions because it was here that Gaudí prayed and meditated every morning, kneeling on a simple pre dieu before a crucifix on the wall. Believe me, if you just see this room somewhere in a picture, you would never relate it to a man of such achievements. In the next room, you will see the personal belongings of Antoni Gaudí such as the tabletop crucifix, certificate of admission to the Apostleship of prayer, cup, saucer, silver coffee spoon and linen towel embroidered with Antoni Gaudí’s initials.
The last room of my visit, a projection room showing a video clip called “Remembering Gaudí” really left me a deep impression. This short but touching movie shows the life story of Gaudí told by his friends and acquaintances, for example, by the Carmelite nuns that had nursed his father and his niece during their illnesses and continued to help Gaudí with his domestic chores. Trust me, this is the place that makes it possible for you to know the most about Gaudí as a human being, not as God’s architect.
After you exit the house, don’t forget to take a look at the garden, which occupies five sixth of the property, and was designed in line with the conditions established for the construction in Park Güell. After having a walk around the house in the garden, it’s not difficult to discover that this property is surrounded by parabolic arcs. I learnt from the audio guide that this is because Güell didn’t want to build high walls in the park but in order to retain some privacy, this creative architect added them based on his own needs while keeping the commissioner satisfied with the project.
Considering that this museum is conveniently located next to the monumental zone of Park Güell, I suggest that you can plan these two sites within the same day. Wanna enhance your experience even more? Another exhibition center that I would strongly recommend to you is also just a few steps aways from the main entrance of the monumental zone. In chapter 2, I’ll tell you more about this “Gaudí Experencia“, where you will experience the works of Gaudí from a brand new angle.
2. Gaudí Experiència
As you can see from the pictures above, you can have a lot of fun here especially if you’re traveling with kids. In general, what you can do here are:
- You can discover the details of the life and works of Gaudí by using interactive boards in nine languages.
- You can see the models of Park Güell and the Hotel Attraction in New York.
- Most amazingly, you can watch a 4D movie with scope screen, 7.1 surround sound, active stereoscopic vision and moving seats with special effects. From here you will enter a magical world created by Gaudí, inspired by nature.
- For children, they can use the interactive tablets especially design for them.
- You can also buy your authentic souvenirs here in the gift shop.
For me, what I liked the most here is the 4D movie, which combines harmoniously how Gaudí sketched and drew his design in his workshop with how his major, most popular constructions transformed from one to the other. This is not a boring movie about how his major buildings such as La Sagrada Familia were created, but rather an animation, friendly introducing how he was inspired by nature, involving the legendary dragon resting as Casa Batlló and the fictional soldiers from outer space standing on the roof terrace of Casa Milà as chimneys now. In the next section, I’ll give you some information about the opening hours and ticket prices.
2.1 Opening hours
- Winter (1st October – 31st March): 10:30 – 17:00
- Summer (1st April – 30th September): 10:30 – 19:00
- 24th and 31st December: 10:00 – 15:00 & 1st January: 12.00 – 18:30
- Closed on 25th December & 6th January
- Please note that the last 4D audiovisual show starts half an hour before the closing of this exhibition center
2.2 Ticket prices
Th general price is 9 euros but if you are from 6-9 years old or older than 65 or you’re a student you can get a discounted price for 7.5 euros. Please note that the 4D movie is not suitable for children who are younger than 6 years old. According to my own experience, you can just go there and but tickets on site. There’s no long line there. Also, the movie is approximately every 15 mins so you don’t need to worry about being confronted with large crowds.
If you are traveling by group, it is recommended to make a reservation in advance by phone: +34932854440 or by email: email@example.com.
3. Museum in La Sagrada Familia
This museum is located inside La Sagrada Familia and the entrance ticket is included in the admission ticket to the basilica. For information about the opening hours, tickets prices and how to get there please click here to check my post about “La Sagrada Familia”.
This museum features original drawings, models and photographs from and about Gaudí. The highlights here are the hanging model for Gaudí’s crypt in Colònia Güell and the workshop for model makers. Once you enter this museum you will see the “Chronology of the basilica of the Sagrada Familia”, which tells you the history of the basilica from the first stone laid to its completion in the future.
In this museum you will see
- the original restored model of the Nativity Façade, colored by Josep M. Jujol, and exhibited in 1910 at the Grand Palais in Paris
- the first model for a bell for the temple’s carillon designed by Gaudí, cast in 1915
- the design process of the nave of the Temple of the Sagrada Familia
- a reproduction of Gaudí’s original inverted model designed for structural calculations for the Church of Colònial Güell
- the Plaster Workshop, where they are creating new plaster models necessary for the construction of the Temple
- an 11-min video playing continuously in Catalan with Spanish and English subtitles about the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia
- the crypt containing Antoni Gaudí’s tomb
- and much more that I couldn’t remember at this moment…
However, what left me with the deepest impression is the exhibition explaining how Gaudí applied what he observed in nature to his projects (Casa Vicens, Casa Batlló and most obviously La Sagrada Familia). For example, as you can see from the last 7 pictures in the gallery above or maybe you’ve noticed during your visit to the basilica,
- the apse of the Sagrada Familia, unlike Gothic architecture, is decorated with snails, serpents, lizards, salamanders and frogs.
- Nature creates a whole series of spiral motions, which he applied to the spiral staircase of the towers (If you have been up to either of the towers, on your way down you should have experienced the staircase already).
- He also applied the curves of a leaf to the roofs and walls of his school building.
- The columns in the side naves are very similar to tree branches, with a big amount of them, the interior creates a feeling of a forest.
- The pinnacles of the windows are crowned with baskets of apples, figs, peaches, pomegranates and cherries.
There is no doubt that Gaudí regards nature as his teacher, his mentor and his source of inspiration. Probably also related to his childhood in the countryside, his keen observation of nature brought such originality and creativity into his works. Over the years, he started by adding natural elements into his architecture and by the time he reached the peak of his career, nature formed the basis, the shape and the structure of his buildings. As he said by himself, “Originality consists in returning to the origin”.
4. Exhibition in the attic of Casa Milà
This exhibition is held in the attic of Casa Milà and the entrance ticket is included in the admission ticket of Casa Milà. If you wanna know more about the opening hours, ticket prices and how to get there please click here to obtain these information from my post “La Pedrera (Casa Milà)”.
It is in this exhibition that you will see the models, accompanied by some brief introduction, of several major works by Gaudí such as Casa Mila (La Pedrera), crypt of the Church of Colònia Güell, La Sagrada Familia etc., the designs or floor plans of the crypt of the Church of Colònia Güell, La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell etc. and the furnishing of Casa Batlló and Casa Milà such as the flooring, chairs, benches and stools. With an audio guide, you will surely learn a lot about Gaudí, from the objects in nature that inspired him to his unprecedented methods.
5. Gaudí Exhibition Center
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to visit this exhibition due to the lack of time. However, this place was indeed recommended by my friends and it is also called the starting point to understand Gaudí’s work.
As advertised on the official website, “Can we understand Gaudí’s artwork by just visiting it? Why should we only watch a creation when we can completely dive in the creator’s mind?”
According to the official website, this exhibition center is divided into 3 parts. The first part is called “Walking with Gaudí”, featuring “original documents, unique pieces and surprising models that get mixed with the innovative look of audio visual installations, hologramsand peculiar scenographies.” The second part (you need to pay extra 2 euros) is called “Meet Gaudí in Person”, “a virtual reality activity completes, without leaving anybody indifferent, the experience of digitally visiting the interior of the crypt inside the Colònia Güell.” The third part is a temporary exhibition, “an original and illustrative show of what the last days of Gaudí were like, and how Barcelona gave him the last goodbye.”
The contents provided above are the texts from the official website of Gaudí Exhibition Center and because I didn’t visit it I could only provide you with some general information about what you can expect in it. Maybe after you have visited it, you can write to me your opinion about it?
If you wanna know more practical information about this exhibition center such as how to get there, opening hours, ticket prices etc., please click here to check the official website.
Finally, including this one, I’ve finished my 7 posts about the works of Gaudí:
- Nativity façade and Crypt of La Sagrada Familia
- Casa Mila
- Casa Batlló
- Park Güell
- Palau Güell
- Crypt in Colonia Güell and Casa Vicens
Of course, the museums and exhibitions centers are not inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage list, but it is my opinion that these facilities play a key role in transferring the disciplines in this genius’ head to the minds of us ordinary visitors. As I said in all these 7 posts, Gaudí stood out in many aspects when it came to architecture. As my friend said, after visiting the major works of Gaudí, he’s now dreaming of becoming an architect. I guess, only the charm of a great mind like Gaudí can influence the dreams of us admirers.