Antoni Gaudi, Art and Architecture Portfolio

Detail of Gaudi's Sagrada Familia, exterior, white doves symbolizing purity
White Doves Symbolize Purity on Gaudi's Sagrada Familia. BORGESE Maurizio/ Images

The architecture of Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926) has been called sensual, surreal, Gothic, and Modernist. Join us for a photo tour of Gaudi's greatest works.

Gaudi's Masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, Spain
The Great, Unfinished Work of Antoni Gaudí, Begun in 1882 La Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, Spain. Photo by Sylvain Sonnet / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images

La Sagrada Familia, or Holy Family Church, is Antoni Gaudi's most ambitious work, and construction is still ongoing.

La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain is one of Antoni Gaudí's most impressive works. This enormous church, as yet unfinished, is a summary of everything that Gaudí designed before. The structural difficulties he faced and errors he committed in other projects are revisited and resolved in Sagrada Familia.

A notable example of this is Gaudí's innovative "leaning columns" (that is, columns that are not at right angles to the floor and ceiling). Previously seen in Parque Güell, leaning columns form the structure of Sagrada Familia's temple. Take a peek inside. When designing the temple, Gaudí invented an extraordinary method for determining the correct angle for each of the leaning columns. He made a small hanging model of the church, using string to represent the columns. Then he turned the model upside down and... gravity did the math.

The ongoing construction of Sagrada Familia is paid for by tourism. When Sagrada Familia is complete, the church will have a total of 18 towers, each dedicated to a different religious figure, and each one hollow, allowing the placement of various types of bells which will sound with the choir.

The architectural style of Sagrada Familia has been called "warped Gothic," and it's easy to see why. The rippling contours of the stone façade make it look as though Sagrada Familia is melting in the sun, while the towers are topped with brightly-colored mosaics which look like bowls of fruit. Gaudí believed that color is life, and, knowing that he would not live to see the completion of his masterpiece, the master architect left colored drawings of his vision for future architects to follow.

Gaudi also designed a school on the premises, knowing that the many workers would want their children nearby. The distinctive roof of La Sagrada Familia School would be easily visible by the construction workers above.

Casa Vicens

Casa Vicens by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, Spain
Branding a Trademark by Antoni Gaudí, 1883 to 1888, Barcelona, Spain Casa Vicens by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, Spain. Photo by Neville Mountford-Hoare/Aurora/Getty Images

Casa Vicens in Barcelona is an early example of Antoni Gaudi's flamboyant work.

Casa Vicens was Antoni Gaudí's first major commission in the city of Barcelona. Combining Gothic and Mudéjar (or, Moorish) styles, Casa Vicens set the tone for Gaudí's later work. Many of Gaudi's signature features are already present in Casa Vicens:

  • Bright colors
  • Extensive Valencia tile work
  • Elaborately decorated chimneys

Casa Vicens also reflects Gaudí's love of nature. Plants that had to be destroyed to build Casa Vicens are incorporated into the building.

Casa Vicens was built as a private home for industrialist Manuel Vicens. The house was enlarged in 1925 by Joan Serra de Martínez. Casa Vicens was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

As a private residence, the property has occasionally been on the market for sale. In early 2014, Matthew Debnam reported in Spain holiday online that the building had been sold and will open to the public as a museum. To view photos and original blueprints from the seller's website, visit

Palau Güell, or Guell Palace

Front facade of Palau Güell, or Guell Palace by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona Built from 1886 to 1890 for Eusebi Güell, Patron of Antoni Gaudí Front facade of Palau Güell, or Guell Palace by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, Spain. Photo by Murat Taner/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

Just like many wealthy Americans, Spanish entrepreneur Eusebi Güell prospered from the Industrial Revolution. The wealthy industrialist enlisted a young Antoni Gaudí to design the great palaces that would display his affluence.

Palau Güell, or Guell Palace, was the first of many commissions that Antoni Gaudí received from Eusebi Güell. Guell Palace only takes up 72 x 59 feet (22 x 18 meters) and is located in what was at the time one of the least desirable areas of Barcelona. With limited space but an unlimited budget, Gaudí built a home and social center worthy of Güell, a leading industrialist and the future count of Güell.

The stone and iron Guell Palace is fronted with two gates in the shape of parabolic arches. Through these large arches, horse-drawn carts could follow ramps into the basement stables.

Inside Guell Palace, a courtyard is covered by a parabola-shaped dome that stretches the height of the four-story building. Light enters the dome through star-shaped windows.

The crowning glory of Palau Güell is the flat roof dotted with 20 different mosaic-covered sculptures that ornament the chimneys, ventilation covers, and stairwells. Functional rooftop sculptures (e.g., chimney pots) later became a trademark of Gaudi's work.

Colegio de las Teresianas, or Colegio Teresiano

Colegio de las Teresianas, or Colegio Teresiano, by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona
Geometric Architecture by Antoni Gaudí, 1888 to 1890, Barcelona, Spain Colegio de las Teresianas, or Colegio Teresiano, by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona. Photo ©Pere López Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Antoni Gaudí used parabola-shaped arches for the hallways and exterior doorways at Colegio Teresiano in Barcelona, Spain.

Antoni Gaudí's Colegio Teresiano is a school for the Teresian order of nuns. An unknown architect had already laid the foundation stone and established the floor plan of the four-story Colegio when Reverend Enrique de Ossó i Cervelló asked Antoni Gaudí to take over. Because the school had a very limited budget, the Colegio is made mostly of brick and stone, with an iron gate and some ceramic decorations.

Colegio Teresiano was one of Antoni Gaudí's first commissions and stands in sharp contrast to much of Gaudi's other work. The exterior of the building is relatively simple. Colegio de las Teresianas does not have the bold colors or playful mosaics found in other buildings by Gaudi. The architect was clearly inspired by Gothic architecture, but instead of using pointed Gothic arches, Gaudi gave the arches a unique parabola shape. Natural light floods the interior hallways. The flat roof is topped with a chimney similar to the ones seen at Palau Güell.

It's especially interesting to compare Colegio Teresiano to the luxurious Palau Güell, since Antoni Gaudí worked on these two buildings at the same time.

During the Spanish Civil War, Colegio Teresiano was invaded. Furniture, original blueprints, and some decorations were burned and lost forever. Colegio Teresiano was declared a Historical-Artistic Monument of National Interest in 1969.

Casa Botines, or Casa Fernández y Andrés

Casa Botines, or Casa Fernández y Andrés, by Antoni Gaudí in León, Spain
Neo-Gothic by Antoni Gaudí, 1891 to 1892, León, Spain Casa Botines, or Casa Fernández y Andrés, by Antoni Gaudí in León, Spain. Photo by Walter Bibikow/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

Casa Botines, or Casa Fernández y Andrés, is a granite, neo-gothic apartment building by Antoni Gaudí.

One of only three Gaudí buildings outside of Catalonia, Casa Botines (or, Casa Fernández y Andrés) is located in León. This neo-gothic, granite building consists of four floors divided into apartments plus a basement and attic. The building has an inclined slate roof with six skylights and four corner towers. A trench around two sides of the building allows more light and air into the basement.

The windows on all four sides of Casa Botines are identical. They decrease in size as they go up the building. Exterior moldings differentiate between the floors and emphasize the width of the building.

The construction of Casa Botines took only ten months, despite Gaudí's troublesome relationship with the people of León. Some local engineers didn't approve of Gaudí's use of continuous lintels for the foundation. They considered sunken piles the best foundation for the region. Their objections led to rumors that the house was going to fall down, so Gaudí asked them for a technical report. The engineers were unable to come up with anything, and were thus silenced. Today, Gaudí's foundation still appears perfect. There are no signs of cracks or settling.

To view a design sketch for Casa Botines, see the book Antoni Gaudí - Master Architect by Juan Bassegoda Nonell.

Casa Calvet

Casa Calvet by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona
House and Offices of Pere Calvet by Antoni Gaudí, 1899, Barcelona Casa Calvet by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona. Photo by Panoramic Images/Panoramic Images/Getty Images (cropped)

Architect Antoni Gaudí was influenced by Baroque architecture when he designed the sculptural wrought iron and statuary decorations atop Casa Calvet in Barcelona, Spain.

Casa Calvet is Antoni Gaudí's most conventional building, and the only one for which he received an award (Building of the Year from the City of Barcelona, 1900).

The project was supposed to begin in March of 1898, but the municipal architect rejected the plans because Casa Calvet's proposed height exceeded City regulations for that street. Instead of redesigning the building to comply with City codes, Gaudí sent the plans back with a line through the façade, threatening to simply cut off the top of the building. This would have left the building looking obviously interrupted. City officials did not reply to this threat and construction finally began according to Gaudí's original plans in January of 1899.

The stone façade, bay windows, sculptural decorations, and many of the interior features of Casa Calvet reflect Baroque influences. The interior is full of color and detail, including Solomonic columns and furniture that Gaudí designed for the first two floors.

Casa Calvet has five stories plus a basement and flat roof terrace. The ground floor was built for offices, while the other floors house the living areas. The offices, designed for industrialist Pere Màrtir Calvet, have been converted into a fine dining restaurant, open to the public.

Parque Güell

Parque Güell by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, Spain
Guell Park by Antoni Gaudi, 1900 to 1914, Barcelona Parque Güell by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, Spain. Photo by Keren Su/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Parque Güell, or Guell Park, by Antoni Gaudi is surrounded by an undulating mosaic wall.

Antoni Gaudí's Parque Güell (pronounced par kay gwel) was originally intended as part of a residential garden community for wealthy patron Eusebi Güell. This never came to pass, and Parque Güell was eventually sold to the city of Barcelona. Today Guell Park remains a public park and World Heritage monument.

At Guell Park, an upper staircase leads to the entrance of the "Doric Temple" or "Hypostyle Hall." The columns are hollow and serve as storm drain pipes. To maintain a feeling of space, Gaudí left out some of the columns.

The huge public square in the center of the Parque Güell is surrounded by a continuous, undulating wall and bench cove studded with mosaics. This structure sits atop the Doric temple and offers a bird's-eye view of Barcelona.

As in all of Gaudí's work, there is a strong element of playfulness. The caretaker's lodge, shown in this photo beyond the mosaic wall, suggests a house a child would imagine, like the gingerbread cottage in Hansel and Gretel.

The entire Guell Park is made of stone, ceramic, and natural elements. For the mosaics, Gaudi used broken ceramic tiles, plates, and cups.

Guell Park demonstrates Gaudi's high regard for nature. He used recycled ceramics rather than firing new ones. To avoid leveling the land, Gaudi designed meandering viaducts. Finally, he planned the park to include numerous trees.

Finca Miralles, or Miralles Estate

The Finca Miralles entrance, now public art in Barcelona, by Antoni Gaudí
The Miralles Wall by Antoni Gaudí, 1901 to 1902, Barcelona The Finca Miralles entrance, now public art in Barcelona, by Antoni Gaudí. Photo ©DagafeSQV via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Spain

Antoni Gaudí built a wavy wall around the Miralles Estate in Barcelona. Only the front entrance and a short expanse of wall remain today.

Finca Miralles, or Miralles Estate, was a large piece of property owned by Gaudí's friend Hermenegild Miralles Anglès. Antoni Gaudí surrounded the estate with a 36-section wall made with ceramic, tile, and lime mortar. Originally, the wall was topped with a metallic grill. Only the front entrance and a portion of the wall remain today.

Two arches held iron gates, one for carriages and the other for pedestrians. The gates corroded over the years.

The wall, now public art in Barcelona, also had a steel canopy topped with tortoise shell-shaped tiles and held up by steel cables. The canopy didn't comply with municipal regulations and was dismantled. It has since been only partially restored, due to fears that the arch would not be able to support the full weight of the canopy.

Finca Miralles was named a National Historic-Artistic Monument in 1969.

Casa Josep Batlló

Colorful Casa Batlló by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, Spain
Casa Batllo by Antoni Gaudí, 1904 to 1906, Barcelona, Spain Casa Batlló by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, Spain. Photo by Nikada/E+/Getty Images

Casa Batlló by Antoni Gaudí is decorated with colored glass fragments, ceramic circles, and mask-shaped balconies.

Each of the three adjacent houses on one block of Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona was designed by a different Modernista architect. The tremendously differing styles of these buildings led to the nickname Mançana de la Discòrdia (mançana means both "apple" and "block" in Catalan).

Josep Batlló hired Antoni Gaudí to remodel Casa Batlló, the center building, and to divide it into apartments. Gaudí added a fifth floor, completely revamped the interior, depressed the roof, and added a new façade. The enlarged windows and thin columns inspired the nicknames Casa dels badalls (House of yawns) and Casa dels ossos (House of bones), respectively.

The stone façade is decorated with colored glass fragments, ceramic circles, and mask-shaped balconies. The undulating, scaled roof suggests a dragon's back.

Casas Batlló and Mila, designed by Gaudí within the space of a few years, are on the same street and share some typical Gaudí features:

  • wavy exterior walls
  • "scooped out" windows

Casa Milà Barcelona

Curvy apartment building in Barcelona, Spain, the Casa Mila, by Antoni Gaudi
La Pedrera by Antoni Gaudí, 1906 to 1910, Barcelona Casa Milà Barcelona, or La Pedrera, designed by Antoni Gaudi, early 1900s. Photo of Casa Mila by amaianos via Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Casa Milà Barcelona, or la Pedrera, by Antoni Gaudí was built as a city apartment building.

The final secular design of the Spanish surrealist Antoni Gaudí, Casa Milà Barcelona is an apartment building with a fanciful aura. Wavy walls made of rough-chipped stone suggest fossilized ocean waves. Doors and windows look like they are dug out of sand. Wrought iron balconies contrast with the limestone. A comical array of chimney stacks dances across the roof.

This unique building is widely but unofficially known as La Pedrera (the Quarry). In 1984, UNESCO classified Casa Milà as a World Heritage site. Today, visitors can take tours of La Pedrera as it is used for cultural expositions.

With its wavy walls, the 1910 Casa Milà reminds us of the residential Aqua Tower in Chicago, built 100 years later in 2010.

More About Wrought Iron:

Sagrada Familia School

Undulating roof of Sagrada Familia School by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, Spain
Escoles de Gaudi, children's school designed by Antoni Gaudí, 1908 to 1909 Undulating roof of Sagrada Familia School by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, Spain. Photo by Krzysztof Dydynski/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

The Sagrada Familia School by Antoni Gaudí was built for the children of men working on the Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona, Spain.

The three-room Sagrada Familia School is an excellent example of Antoni Gaudí's work with hyperbolic forms. The undulating walls provide strength, while the waves in the roof channel water off the building.

The Sagrada Familia School burned down twice during the Spanish Civil War. In 1936, the building was reconstructed by Gaudi's assistant. In 1939, architect Francisco de Paula Quintana supervised the reconstruction.

The Sagrada Familia School now holds the offices for the Sagrada Familia Cathedral. It is open to visitors.

El Capricho

Minaret of the Persian inspired El Capricho, early work of Antonio Gaudí in Comillas, Spain
The Caprice Villa Quijano by Antoni Gaudi, 1883 to 1885, Comillas, Spain El Capricho de Gaudí, Comillas, Cantabria, Spain. Photo by Nikki Bidgood/E+/Getty Images

The summer house built for Máximo Díaz de Quijano is a very early example of the life's work of Antoni Gaudi. Begun when he was barely 30-years-old, El Capricho is similar to Casa Vicens in its Eastern influences. Like Casa Botines, Capricho is located beyond Gaudi's Barcelona comfort zone.

Translated as "the whim," El Capricho is an example of modern capriciousness. The unpredictable, seemingly impulsive design ironically predicts the architectural themes and motifs found in Gaudi's later buildings.

  • the Persian-inspired minaret
  • the nature-inspired sunflower designs
  • the neo-Classically inspired columns with exuberant capitals
  • the use of wrought-iron gates and railings
  • the playful combination of geometric lines -- horizontal, vertical, and curvaceous
  • the varying surface textures created by colorful ceramic tiles

Capricho may not be one of Gaudi's most accomplished designs, and it's often said that he did not supervise its construction, but it remains one of the top tourist destinations of Northern Spain. As such, the public relations spin is that "Gaudí also designed blinds that emit musical sounds when they are opened or closed." Enticed to visit?

Source: Tour of Modernist Architecture, Turistica de Comillas website at [accessed June 20, 2014]

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Craven, Jackie. "Antoni Gaudi, Art and Architecture Portfolio." ThoughtCo, Jul. 31, 2021, Craven, Jackie. (2021, July 31). Antoni Gaudi, Art and Architecture Portfolio. Retrieved from Craven, Jackie. "Antoni Gaudi, Art and Architecture Portfolio." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 23, 2023).