Full of charm and fairness, Barcelona is without a doubt one of the most desired attractions and premier travel destination in Spain. With stunning architecture, sparkling coastlines, rich culture and amazing art, this city is special in so many ways. Taking a walk from the old medieval districts to some of the modern ones, you’ll always have something to visit and discover.
Written by Jelien Moerman
Barcelona is well-known for its mix of modern and gothic architecture. Located between the mountains and the sea, the city’s landscape is charmingly adorned with breathtaking work by the brilliant minds of the past and present.
In this article, we’ll mention some of Barcelona’s most beautiful architecture, both exterior and interior, focusing on the new and old constructions that have made this beautiful city what it is today. Let’s hop on and explore the “Paris of Spain” as once described by Hans Christian Andersen and talk about Barcelona’s architecture gems.
Antoni Gaudí, The Golden Boy of Modernism
All architectural tours of Barcelona have to begin with Antoni Gaudí, who is one of the biggest and most famous Catalan architects to ever exist. Barcelona boasts plenty of his wonderful, eccentric designs. He is definitely one of the main reasons for the many tourist visits to the city.
La Sagrada Familia Basilica
Gaudi’s most famous and celebrated work is the mesmerizing Sagrada Familia. This is a roman catholic church that has been under construction for a very long time. When completed, the church will hold the title of the tallest building in Catalan’s capital city. Due to the corona crisis, the construction is unfortunately delayed and so they will not succeed to complete the Sagrada Familia in 2026. The latter was the plan, with the symbolic significance to finish the basilica 100 years after the death of Antoni Gaudí.
Another notable piece of work by Gaudi is the Casa Batlló with its swirling fireplaces, wrought-iron delicate balconies and whipped-cream ceilings. It’s important to mention that Gaudi was an avowed opponent of straight lines, which explains why not a single straight line can be found in this structure. Built back in 1906, it is believed that the façade actually represents Saint Jordi’s dragon fight. The bone-like, strange-looking pillars that support the balconies are said to be the dragon prey’s bones, the undulating roof its scaly back, and the bulbous cross that protrudes from the building’s top symbolizes Saint Jordi’s lance.
Catedral Basílica Metropolitana de Barcelona
The city’s impressive cathedral is certainly Barri Gòtic’s focal point. Constructed sometime between the 13th and 15th centuries, this Gothic-looking cathedral possesses 29 side chapels, interestingly carved choir stalls, as well as numerous rich treasures. Tourists tend to love the cloister, which is a charming palm free-filled refugee that’s inhabited by 13 geese as a tribute to the saint.
Our Tip: Enter the cathedral free of charge during the morning or early evening hours!
Monestir de Pedralbes
Established back in 1326 by Queen Elisenda, Monestir de Pedralbes functions as a convent for nuns. The complex, which is one of the best examples of the city’s Gothic design, is a museum nowadays. The property has a serene 3-story cloister that is dotted with fountains and trees. The former prayer cells, refectory and other spaces are today filled with objects that outline the convent’s rich history. Among them, one can find Queen Elisenda’s pale marble tomb, situated in the property’s breathtaking single-nave church.
Gran Teatre - The Opera House
Barcelona’s opera house has a tumultuous history that includes two separate fires, the latest ravaging the structure in 1994. The Liceu, however, was rebuilt in an even bigger form, including heavy marble lashing, gilt and plush red velvet that has been added.
Barcelona’s architecture is much more than can be fully explained in one article. Barcelona is truly an electrifying city in every sense of the word, and one that must be visited in order to grasp its beautiful architectural work. There are numerous architecture walking tours available in the city if you want to be professionally guided through the areas and structures. Plus, if you’re pursuing a career related to architecture, Barcelona may be the best place to study for it.
Poblenou - The place to be!
For those who like interior design, be sure to visit the El Poblenou district. The 'barrio' (district) as they call it here, started a transformation about 20 years ago. Abandoned factories were taken over by artists' collectives to work, but also to organize parties. The early adopters of the district included artist Antoni Miralda and Mariscal, the creator of the legendary Palo Alto design studio. The neighbourhood is bustling with galleries, co-working spaces and architects studios. BAU is one of the few design, architecture and art schools that form the creative spirit of Poblenou, offering university studies in all areas of design in more than 6000 m2 of restored industrial space.
Keep discovering Barcelona!
As you could read in the latest articles about Barcelona, the city does not stop developing. Due to the influx of new creatives and expats, and the constant changes, the city continues to fascinate us. When you get the chance to visit Barcelona, don't forget to walk through Poblenou, or the @22 district as they call it here. The delicious coffees, nice markets, beautiful galleries, workshops and the latest modern coworking spaces will no doubt surprise you pleasantly!