Barcelona's famous five
Catalonia’s capital is an architectural wonderland: the only place on Earth where you will find five UNESCO World Heritage sites all created by one visionary architect, Antoni Gaudi.
With Cunard voyages allowing you to step ashore in the heart of the city, an exploration of these legendary feats is an ideal way to pass your time in port.
A city as ancient as it is modern, Barcelona is one of Spain’s most visited destinations, offering a rare combination of sun, sea and culture seldom found in one location. In the oldest part of town (the Barrio Gotic), cobblestone paths, barely wide enough to be considered streets, snake out from hidden plazas in maze-like labyrinths. Metres away lies La Rambla, Barcelona’s beating touristic heart, bustling with street artists, tapas bars and the city’s famous La Boqueria food market.
As metropolitan cities go, Barcelona is one of the most beautiful, proudly harbouring some of the best-preserved historic architecture found anywhere in Europe. Its substantial cultural significance has resulted in UNESCO awarding the city no less than nine World Heritage Sites, five of which Gaudi designed.
Here, we offer a snapshot of those five magnificent buildings, each one possible to visit on a Cunard cruise to Barcelona.
An online search for Barcelona can’t fail to produce an image of Park Guell. Next to the Sagrada Familia, this is one of Gaudi’s most famous works, bearing the tell-tale hallmarks of the architect’s unique sensory style. Clean lines have no place here. Neither does the typical white-washed image of Spain found in traditional Andalusian villages. Gaudi’s park is a Tardis of kaleidoscopic mosaics: wild, free, but still with a serenity that emanates from deep within. Spectacular scenic views of sprawling Barcelona only elevate the feeling of wonder you experience while exploring this otherworldly terrain.
Barcelona’s most famous landmark, the Sagrada Familia, was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2005, yet the building remains unfinished. Struck down by a tram, Gaudi died during its construction and, after being laid to rest in the building’s crypt, his final gift to Barcelona still stands incomplete. None the less, the Sagrada Familia is magnificent, uncompromising in its celebration of nature and distaste for order. Its imposing gothic spires may cast a foreboding shape on the city’s skyline, but inside this architectural feat of wonder is nothing short of ethereal.
Casa Mila, or La Pedrera
One of three Gaudi buildings granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1984, Casa Mila (also known as La Pedrera) is one of the architect’s earliest works. An absence of straight lines embodies Gaudi’s influence, reinforced by the use of vibrant colours and a cluster of irregular-shaped chimneys occupying Casa Mila’s terrace. Originally commissioned as a family home, today the building has been given back to the city, operating as a cultural centre and providing yet another insightful glimpse into Gaudi’s extraordinary artistry as an architect.
It doesn’t take much to identify Palau Guell among its neighbouring properties. Compared to the modest houses that surround it, the Art Nouveau façade of Gaudi’s building gives away its location in a heartbeat. A look inside only confirms why Gaudi was appointed the architect of this project. Every stone, every turn of wood, every deliberate twist of wrought iron has been transformed in a way only he could envisage. Palau Guell may well be one of Gaudi’s earliest commissions, but its exquisite manipulation of light and space already hints at a master in the making.
Perhaps the least famous of his buildings, Casa Vicens is the first private residence Gaudi designed, yet the signature style of Spain’s foremost Modernisme architect is none the less evident in this early example of his work. Just the majesty of its turreted, geometric, exterior will have you reaching for the camera, although this alone can’t prepare you for the wonder that awaits when you cross Casa Vicens’ threshold. Gaudi may have built this property more than a century ago but its dynamic design is worlds ahead of its time.
“Barcelona is one of my favourite Spanish cities and offers an array of travel experiences. Take a stroll down the bustling La Rambla or visit the iconic Nou Camp, home to FC Barcelona. Throughout the city you’ll see the works of Antonio Gaudi, which unsurprisingly feature in our most popular shore experiences. The magnificent Sagrada Familia is a 'must see' for any visitor, while Park Guell offers the ultimate Gaudi experience."Tim Mathieson, Cunard Shore Experiences Specialist
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