Works of Antoni Gaudí (1984, 2005)

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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. Parque Güell, Palacio Büell, Casa Mila, Casa Vicens, Gaudí’s work on the Nativity façade and Crypt of the Sagrada Familia cathedral, Casa Batlló, and the Crypt in Colonia Güell 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

Mila House, popularly called "La Pedrera" looks like a mass of undulating stone where architecture turns into sculpture and where the original roof and chimneys, abstract and anachronistic, are especially eye-catching. Among Gaudi's other celebrated works is the apartment building The Casa Batiló (1907). Both structures in stone and iron minimize traditional straight lines and flat surfaces by the use of rounded, irregularly spaced openings and a roof of balconies that have a wavelike appearance. 
  • Spain 1978. Antoni Gaudi on the background of Mila House. This was Gaudi's last great civil building, completed in 1910. 

Spain 1978. Antoni Gaudi on the b ackground of Mila House.

United Nations (Vienna) 2000. Güell Palace in Barcelona by Antoni Gaudi.

Güell Palace, which took four years to build, was finished in 1890.  It was commissioned by the Catalan philanthropist Esebio Güell, Gaudi's main patron.  

In it, Gaudi uses parabolic arches with a constructive and ornamental function, mushroom-shaped and hyperbolic capitals, and chimneys with abstract decoration.  

  • United Nations (Vienna) 2000. Güell Palace in Barcelona, by Antoni Gaudi. Please note that a similar stamp of the same design exists, with green frame, and the face value of 6.50 Schilling, corresponding to 0,47 Euro. 

Gaudi's work in Barcelona was inscribed on the World Heritage List, not only because of his original craftsmanship, but because he signals the end of nineteenth-century eclectic architecture and leads the way to contemporary creations, unrestrained by the past, and his work represents an exceptional and outstanding creative contribution to the development of architecture and building technology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

Spain 2004. Parque Güell in Barcelona. Joint issue with China. Spain 1989. Parque y Palacio Güell, and Casa Mila, by Antoni Gaudi.

In 1883 Gaudí was appointed official architect of the huge Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Família (Church of the Holy Family), which, although still unfinished at his death, is acknowledged as his masterpiece. Its lofty semicubist towers, with mosaic-covered finials, dominate the Barcelona skyline, and its imaginative forms, colors, and textures are unmatched in European architecture. La Sagrada Familia should not be confused with the gigantic Cathedral of Barcelona, called "La Seu", which is a Gothic masterpiece, more than 700 years old. 

Every part of the design of La Sagrada Família is rich with Christian symbolism, as Gaudí intended the church to be the "last great sanctuary of Christendom." Its most striking aspect are its spindle-shaped towers. A total of 18 tall towers are called for, representing in ascending order of height the 12 apostles, the four Evangelists, the Virgin Mary and, tallest of all, Jesus Christ. There is no "recognizable style" in the architecture, which is a mixture between Art Nouveau, Modernisme, and Gothic Architecture. 

Spain 2002. Panoramic view of Sagrada Familia, with Antoni Gaudi's signature at the bottom of the image.

The evangelists' towers will be surmounted by sculptures of their traditional symbols: a bull St. Luke), an angel (St. Matthew), an eagle (St. John), and a lion (St. Mark). 

The central tower of Jesus Christ is to be surmounted by a giant cross, and the tower's total height will be one metre less than that of Montjuïc, as Gaudí believed that his work should not surpass that of God. The lower towers are surmounted by bunches of grapes, representing spiritual fruit. 

  • Spain 1992. Panoramic view of La Sagrada Familia.
  • Spain 2002. Idem, with Gaudi's signature incorporated at the bottom of the image. 

Although not by Antoni Gaudí, an interesting feature about the Sagrada Familia Church is the magic square on the Passion Façade. 

The Passion façade of the Sagrada Familia Church, designed by sculptor Josep Subirachs, features a 4×4 magic square. No matter how you add the numbers (downwards, sideward, diagonally -- you end up with the result of 33, the magic sum of the square is 33, the age of Jesus at the time of the Passion. 

Structurally, it is very similar to the Melancholia magic square, appearing on a painting by the German Renaissance painter Albrecht Dürer, but it has had the numbers in four of the cells reduced by 1. 

  • Sagrada Familia Church, Barcelona. Photograph of the Passion Façade with the Magic Square. 
    Image and information © Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 

Sagrada Familia Church, Barcelona. Photograph of the Passion Façade with the Magic Square.

The Magic Square is also known elsewhere in European Art, most notably on the German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer's copper plate engraving "Melancolia I" (1514)

Spain 2006. Casa Batiló, Barcelona.

Gaudí’s work exhibits an important interchange of values closely associated with the cultural and artistic currents of his time, as represented in el Modernisme of Catalonia. 

It anticipated and influenced many of the forms and techniques that were relevant to the development of modern construction in the 20th century. 

Also, his work represents a series of outstanding examples of the building typology in the architecture of the early 20th century, residential as well as public, to the development of which he made a significant and creative contribution. 

  • Spain 2006. Casa Batiló, Barcelona. Scan by courtesy of Mario Villena (Spain). 

Gaudí was deeply involved in Catalan nationalism, of which he was a leader. He died June 10, 1926, in Barcelona.

Sources and links: 

Other World Heritage Sites in Spain (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, Spain-section, for further information on the individual properties. 

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Revised 19 jul 2007  
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