Barcelona is the largest metropolis on the Mediterranean Sea and the capital of Catalonia. The city has a rich cultural heritage and nowadays it is an important cultural centre that attracts millions of tourists from all over the world each year.
Throughout its history, Barcelona has developed several cultures and civilisations that have contributed to art and have left a legacy for posterity. Since the first settlers, Roman colonists, Visigoths and a brief Islamic period, then the middle Ages, the Catalan language and the Catalan culture, with a first period of splendour for the Catalan art, where the Roman and the gothic periods were very fruitful for the artistic development of the region, Barcelona has become very diverse and international city.
Since there is so much to see here we made a quick guide for those interested in learning more about the architecture of Barcelona. Barcelona’s architecture is truly unique, sophisticated and elaborate, thus it is worth exploring it a little bit while you are on vacation in Barcelona. This is proven by the fact that no other city has as many buildings on the UNESCO World Heritage List as Barcelona.
Originally founded as a Roman city, you will still find some remains of Roman buildings in the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona. These are the oldest buildings in Barcelona that still stand today. You might want to visit City History Museum of Barcelona (the address – Plaça del Rei, s/n). There you will find the most extensive example of Roman ruins. The museum is extremely interesting; especially if you’re particularly interested in ancient history. It houses a wealth of Roman ruins from a wine factory to a cloth dyeing shop.
Barcelona, being a capital of Catalonia, has its own unique architectural style – Catalan Gothic. It appeared between the 13th and 15th century after Gothic style occurred in Europe for the first time. Barcelona Gothic evolved along with other cities and towns in Spanish Mediterranean coast. To see the best example of Barcelona Gothic you should visit the Basilica Santa Maria del Mar. This church was built in XIV century when trade and maritime were in its burden in Catalonia. Santa Maria del Mar is an outstanding church with a purity and unity of style that is not typical in most of the massive medieval buildings. The church has suffered several causalities during its history, due to various reasons such as 1428 Catalonia earthquake and a fire in 1936. Therefore, some elements in the church’s facade have changed, for example, rose windows in the west end. However, when you see the church from the outside and from the inside you will undoubtedly notice its solid and refined look that is definitely something to admire. The address of the church is Plaça de Santa Maria, 1.
The next point of interest is Barcelona Cathedral or also called Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. The cathedral was also constructed in a gothic style between the 13th and 15th century. The neo-Gothic facade was later added by the end of 19th century. The location where the cathedral is standing has always been a sacred and spiritual place in Barcelona for many years. Initially there stood a Roman temple, followed by a mosque and now a church. Barcelona cathedral cannot be referred to as a pure example of a Gothic style as it is more a blending of styles: medieval and Renaissance. The roof is notable for its gargoyles, featuring a wide range of animals; both real and mythical. Barcelona Cathedral is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. At night the cathedral is finely illuminated. The cathedral is situated in Pla de la Seu.
Discussing architecture of Barcelona, modernist architecture by Antoni Gaudi cannot be avoided. Antoni Gaudi is one of the most internationally renowned Catalan architects. His creation that stands out the most is the Sagrada Familia. Construction started in 1882 and is still in progress nowadays. All of Gaudi’s ideas are expressed in this temple: his deep devotion to religion as well as his great love of nature, a source of inspiration to him in all his architecture. Visiting Sagrada Familia is highly recommended for everyone when you are in Barcelona, because we believe this church is the most elaborate and beautiful in the world.
However, in spite of the impact that Gaudi’s works have had, it was highly questioned during his lifetime. For example, the building La Pedrera (also known as Casa Mila) located on Passeig de Gracia, was scorned by the satirical press and depicted as a landing spot for airships. Nevertheless, over time, public opinion has changed and his work is now recognised for its brilliance. On the same street, Passeig de Gracia, you will find the Casa Batllo, one of the most beautiful buildings by Gaudi.
Park Guell is a park designed by Gaudi where nature and human intervention complement each other and is an absolutely must see in Barcelona! The technique Gaudi used there more than anywhere else is called Trencadis – a special type of mosaic created from broken tile shards.
Catalonian modernism is a very interesting phenomenon and it is fascinating to take a closer look at it. The Modernisme – the Catalan Art Nouveau occurred in the end of XIX – the beginning of XX centuries. The basic founder of Catalan Modernism was Lluís Domènech i Montaner. One of the most popular of his creations is the Castell dels Tres Dragons (Castle of the three dragons), which is now a Zoological Museum. You can see this building in the Parc de Ciutadela. His other important buildings are the Hospital de Sant Pau and Palau de la Musica Catalana in Barcelona.
Finally, to get a better touch of a contemporary Barcelona you should head towards district which is called “22@” – the district of innovation. The development of this area began at the beginning of the XXI century and is still ongoing. This district was previously an industrial area in Poblenou, in the district of Sant Marti. The area is interesting to visit to experience the modern part of Barcelona with recently elevated buildings in a contemporary style.