Barcelona’s famous architect Antoni Gaudi i Cornet is often thought to be where we get the word “gaudy” in English, but gaudy the word predates the architect by at least three centuries. If you have seen pictures of his buildings, or better, his building in person; the coincidence is hard to believe. Even more than forth years after his death, Gaudi continues to keep Barcelona’s construction workers employed.
His unfinished masterpiece the Sagrada Familia is creeping toward completion. If only he had been a bit more gaudy in his later years, Gaudi might have added quite a bit more to the project.. In his later years, he abandoned his dandy persona for the homeless look. A tram accident proved fatal when Gaudi was struck by one in 1926. The police did not rush Gaudi to the hospital believing his was a beggar unable to afford treatment. Sagrada Familia is projected to be completed on the hundredth anniversary of Gaudi’s death in 2026.
Barcelona is the only city to receive the RIBA Royal Gold Medal for architecture in 1999. The only time it has been given to a city, not an individual architect. Like the police in the tram accident, Barcelona again failed to recognize Gaudi for all he has given the city’s landscape. From the Wizard of Ozish Sagrada Familia to the Park and Palau Guell, Gaudi’s main works define Barcelona’s unique architectural look.
Any tour of Barcelona should include taking in Gaudi’s vision. The Sagrada Familia is dependent on tourists touring the finished areas to fund the unfinished areas, money will spent. Along with the Park and Palau Guell; Casa Vicens, Casa Ballto and Casa Mila (La Pedrera) make up the important modernista buildings designed by Gaudi. All seven are listed with the United Nations as World Heritage sites. The modernista was the decorative style that took hold in Barcelona in 1890. It continued on without Gaudi until World War II, but never the same without the modernista master.
Franck Anais is sub-director of ShBarcelona and shares his passion for the wonderful city of Barcelona.