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Architecture in Barcelona: the Gaudí Essentials

By

Judd Elterman

Judd is a third culture kid from the United States doing an MA in media in business in the Netherlands. He likes to spend his days with copious amounts of pop culture, sci-fi and baking.

Going to Barcelona and not experiencing Antoni Gaudí’s visually striking creations is like claiming you flew somewhere, but never left the airport terminal. Sure, Barcelona has more than its fair share of things to offer. There are beaches, fabulous food and lively nightlife, but the heart and soul of the Catalan capital come alive through Gaudí’s awe-inspiring architecture in Barcelona. If you’re a fan of art or just seeing pretty things, we recommend using this list as a guideline to discover the unforgettable mark Gaudí left on architecture in Barcelona.

Sagrada Família

The crown jewel of Gaudí’s architectural footprint in Barcelona and not to be missed. Perhaps the longest ongoing construction project of the modern era, the basilica first broke ground in 1882 and is scheduled to be completed in 2026 (for now). Inspired by nature, the Sagrada Família breaks the rules and features only asymmetrical lines and a copious amount of animal figures. After you get over just how remarkable the facade of the church is, make sure you get yourself inside to marvel at its full glory. If you don’t come an hour in advance to wait in line, that’s ok, fast-track and skip-the-line tickets are available.

Casa Batlló

Maybe the most whimsical of Gaudí’s designs, Casa Batlló is a testament to just how insane architectural and interior design can be while still remaining tasteful. From dragons to skeletal structures, this colorful house is eye-popping at every turn and begs for a visit. A fun recent feature added to the experience is the augmented reality video guide, which lets you see life as it was for Barcelona’s elite at the turn of the 20th century. Much like the Sagrada Família, this is not an attraction where you want to rely on sheer luck to get in without a wait, so book in advance.

Casa Milà

Casa Milà, otherwise known as La Pedrera, is another masterpiece by Gaudí and just a short walk from Casa Batlló. Not only does it house reproductions of early 20th-century living spaces, but inside you will find a comprehensive retrospective of Gaudí’s work. Take note of the impeccably designed interior and its ornate collection of furniture designed by the genius himself. The sandy-colored exterior is reminiscent of a quarry, including swirly chimneys and Gaudí’s signature whimsical lines, which helped redefine what architecture in Barcelona is and can be.

Casa Calvet

Casa Calvet is widely regarded as Gaudí’s most conservative work and made to fit into the affluent neighborhood in which it was built. However, the architecture still has quite a few modernista elements to it. Go admire the quiet composure of this building’s facade on your way to the more extravagant Casa Batlló and Casa Milà. The building itself houses apartments and offices, but lunch inside one of its restaurants will give you access to some of its interior. Yay, food.

architecture in Barcelona

Casa Vicens

Inspired by neoclassical and oriental styles, Casa Vicens is regarded as Gaudí’s first great work. This former summer home pops with color from every angle and transports the visitor to a candy-colored world, no Instagram filter needed. You’ll find the interior to be just as vibrant, with numerous nature-inspired elements like vines and birds. Once inside, enjoy the informative architectural museum and the wonderful views from the rooftop terrace. After your visit, take a stroll towards the nearby Vila de Gràcia neighborhood. In this former village, you’ll discover charming squares, a striking 19th-century clock tower and a few great places to eat.

Park Güell

Not that this world-famous park needs any introduction, but we’ll give one anyway. Park Güell was originally intended as a private housing complex in 1900 with the then-popular layout of an English garden. Not only did Gaudí design this colorful mosaic-filled fantasy, but he also resided here until his death in 1926. It then became a public park and was even declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Full of Kodak moments at every turn, make sure you stop a moment to take in the gorgeous view of Barcelona from the hilltop on which the park is situated. Because of its very limited capacity, it’s recommended to choose an entry time in advance to avoid long waits.

The Gaudí House Museum

Before leaving Park Güell, consider entering the Gaudí House Museum for an intimate look at the artist’s private life. Until he passed away, Gaudí spent 20 years living in this appropriately flamboyant house. Once you’ve admired the beautifully adorned facade, step inside and take a peek at furniture, houseware and some personal objects, mostly designed by the famed architect himself. In addition, his former home houses various paintings, sculptures and drawings from esteemed colleagues he would often work with. An entrance to Park Güell is not required to visit the house, but we recommend you visit both on the same day because of the mildly remote location.

house in Barcelona

Torre Bellesguard

Off the beaten path, but still as decadent as any other Gaudí, Torre Bellesguard is worth the effort. One of the things unique to Torre Bellesguard is its abundance of straight lines, rarely seen in Gaudí’s work. This medieval castle-inspired structure incorporates Gothic and Art Nouveau styles, but its core remains very Catalan. Keen eyes will also recognize how it demonstrates the architect’s development leading up to the construction of Sagrada Familia. However, maybe the best feature of Torre Bellesguard is the insane view you’ll get to experience up there. In fact, Bellesguard literally means “beautiful view” in Catalan, so, it’s in the name really.

building in Barcelona

Colonia Güell

For the more adventurous among us, we recommend venturing to Colonia Güell. Slightly outside the city and requiring a train ride to reach it, we still believe visiting this hidden treasure is worth your while. The church of Gaudí’s crypt contains all of the artist’s known attributes and innovations, so take notice of the building’s architectural easter eggs. One may view Colonia Güell as a prototype of his later masterpiece, Sagrada Família. Whilst the world-famous basilica will complete its construction in the coming years, this small church will be left unfinished, but forever open to curious travelers such as yourself.

architecture

Portal Miralles

Our last stop on the tour is the delightful gate designed by Gaudí at the entrance to the private Miralles family estate. It is also the only piece of it left standing and coincidentally the only part of the compound he designed. This wavy wonder is made of steel-reinforced mortar and decorated with trencadís broken tile mosaic. Just beside the gate, you’ll notice a life-size statue of Gaudí installed in 2000 by the sculptor Joaquim Camps. It’s a great chance to pose for a picture with the architect next to one of his masterpieces! The gate is free of charge and only a 5-minute walk from Maria Cristina station on the L3 line.

We hope this Gaudí guide helped you navigate all the beautiful architecture in Barcelona from this legendary artist and creator. Do you have a favorite Gaudí building? Have you seen them all and think there’s more to architecture in Barcelona than Gaudí? Let us know in the comments or on our social media channels like Facebook and Instagram!

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The Game of Thrones attractions you don’t know about

By

Judd Elterman

Judd is a third culture kid from the United States doing an MA in media in business in the Netherlands. He likes to spend his days with copious amounts of pop culture, sci-fi and baking.

With just a few more days to go before the final Game of Thrones season premieres, it’s time to breathe some (dragon) fire back into GOT mania and get excited about the worldwide pop culture phenomenon. Besides binge-watching the previous seasons again, and pacing impatiently like a caged Lannister, a great way to prepare for the show’s swansong is to sample a bit of real-life magic!


Game of Thrones attractions and filming locations have become so popular, some countries are even reporting upswings in their national economies – talk about repaying your debts!

Westeros, GOT’s main stage

Croatia has seen an unprecedented tourism boom due to the fictional city of King’s Landing being filmed in Dubrovnik. But as eagle-eyed viewers of the show all know, much of the show is filmed in decidedly less sunkissed locales than Dubrovnik.

To the slightly more adventurous amongst us, we recommend checking out a few more nations with their own unique Game of Thrones attractions. One is even hosting the show’s official touring exhibition!

Northern Ireland

Even though GOT is filmed in a number of countries, Northern Ireland and specifically Belfast hosts the show’s main studios so it’s probably the most important place to start your tour. It’s Snow joke, this country hosts the real-life sets for some of the show’s fantasy locales like Winterfell, Castle Black, the Dark Hedges and the Dothraki grasslands. These beautiful real-life places like the Giant’s Causeway, Tollymore Forest and Castle Ward are all accessible with a car, or more conveniently with a tour group.

There are also options to go on a 48-hour Hop-on Hop-off bus tour for your own convenience or on a shorter day tour, which excludes the more distant Giant’s Causeway. Real-life history inspired the immensely successful series, so a whole medieval-themed trip may be something worth looking into as well.

The Dark Hedges

Another good reason GOT fanatics should visit Northern Ireland this year is the opening of the GOT Exhibition in Belfast in April 2019. Inside, you’ll find numerous props, costumes, weapons, and armour from the show, spread across faithfully recreated sets from the most nailbiting scenes of the series.

You can’t miss out on an opportunity to sit in the Iron Throne. But will your friends bend the knee and accept your claim to the throne? A gentle nod towards Ser Ilyn Payne’s sword should persuade them to keep their heads…

Game of Thrones attractions
The Game of Thrones Exhibition

Iceland

For the more adventurous amongst us, consider making that bucket list tour of Iceland finally happen because the faraway land up North has its fair share of Game of Thrones attractions and things to see. A trip to Iceland will put you front and center with the snowy backdrops, which inspired the Night’s Watch, the White Walkers and all of the other perils lying beyond the Wall. That said, Iceland is not all about frosty weather and white scenery. The country’s famed Golden Circle is Iceland’s geothermal region and has an abundance of hot springs, exploding geysers and boiling mud pits.

Game of Thrones attraction in Iceland
The Golden Circle

If you’re feeling brave, rent a car and explore this otherworldly country and its wondrous sites. Otherwise, we recommend booking one of the guided tours, which will conveniently take you the Golden Circle and other regions open to the public. Some tours even venture out to see a unique geothermal greenhouse in action in the geyser region. Iceland’s Southern coastline is adorned with volcanoes, black sandy beaches and waterfalls that are worth checking out once you’re on the island. So… Do. Not. Miss.

Spain

In comparison to the emerald green and snowy white landscapes of Northern Ireland and Iceland, the show’s Spain shooting locations prove there’s a Stark difference in the GOT world’s landscape. Regions like the kingdom of Dorne, Braavos and the slave city of Mereen all served as backdrops for the warmer areas of Westeros in which the series takes place. You too can imagine yourselves in some of GOT’s more iconic moments, such as the unforgettable Dragonpit scene filmed in the ancient Roman arena at Itálica. While you’re in the area, don’t miss the chance to see the Alcázar of Seville, one of the oldest palaces in the world. This location hosted the Sunspear and the Water Gardens of Dorne and was designed under the influence of Christian and Moorish cultures.


Alcázar of Seville

We hope we got you excited about the numerous Game of Thrones attractions that are available to visit. Do you think we’ve missed one? Let us know with the hashtag #tiqets on Facebook or Instagram!

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7 of the best things to do in Bilbao

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This buzzing metropolis is known for great food and its vibrant culture. And any visitor to Bilbao is going to want to make the most of their time. Ryan Millar shares seven of the best things to do in Bilbao to get you started!

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