Prone to Wander

Gaudy Gaudi

Contrary to what I have heard people assume in the past, the etymology of the word “gaudy” probably is not related to Gaudi’s architecture. But, considering Gaudi’s work, it’s a good guess.

I thought I would revisit Gaudi, since we spent a lot of time exploring his work while we were in Barcelona in February, and because Gaudi is one of the people I’d like to meet if I could go back in time. He was, and is, one of the most amazing architects in this century. His creations are fascinating and unusual, and many of them are designed to maximize sunlight and conserve energy. If you look at the fluid, undulating lines and strange designs in many of his buildings, you can see that he took much of his inspiration from organic forms in nature. He decorated these masterpieces with incredible patterns of color and texture, including gorgeous tile mosaics.

For the art history fans out there, many of Gaudi’s works fall under the Modernisme/ Art Nouveau movement, although many of his buildings are so unique that they don’t really fit well into any category.

Many of his works can be found in Barcelona in Spain. I’ll probably devote this post mainly to the Sagrada Familia, but here are a few amazing examples of some of his other buildings and designs that we saw. You really have to see these up close to get the full effect, but maybe these pictures will capture your imagination anyway.

Park Güell




Casa Batlló


Casa Milá (La Pedrera)



The Sagrada Familia

My all-time favorite structure in the world (well, so far) is the Sagrada Familia. It began construction in 1882 and continues to this day. Gaudi was hit by a tram and died in 1926, his masterpiece incomplete. The projected completion date is in 2026. Even now, the building is staggering. It towers far above the Barcelona skyline and can be seen from many points in the city, and up close, the level of detail and symbolism is overwhelming. It is nearly impossible to take it all in at once. Here are some pictures that I took on our visit just this year, to give you an idea of the parts of the building that have already been completed.

View of the Nativity Facade from outside:

The forest-like columns and canopy inside the church that will support the huge tower in the center that has not yet been completed:

A completed stained glass window:

Looking out at the towers on the south side of the building from one of the north towers, including work that is being done on the roof to get ready to build the giant bell tower in the center:

Detail of the top of two of the towers, decorated with ornate tile mosaics:

Some of the column tops look like various kinds of fruit:

Which reminds me of the photograph I took in the market on Las Ramblas in Barcelona:

This is the inside of the top of one of the north bell towers:

Looking down a spiral staircase that we were about to descend:

Mosaic detail and texture, up-close:

Work goes on in various parts of the Sagrada Familia every day. It’s amazing that you are able to see the work being done as it is being built. The architects and project managers working on it have been able to use many of Gaudi’s original plans and models. Representations of these are in the crypt; a few pictures are below.



Below is a model of the finished church. Note that the five tallest towers in the center are yet to be completed. It is amazing to me that this church will be any taller or more complicated than it is already! The side shown in the picture has also not been built yet. It’s called the Glory Facade, and you can see the colorful clouds that will be suspended among the towers (Wow, I can’t wait to see that!)


Here you can see some of the work being done on the sanctuary columns:

I took a picture of a friendly-looking workman scoring tiles that will be set into mosaic pieces before being placed into the church:

Here are a few of the peices that include mosaics that were ready to be put up:

I suppose that concludes my blog tribute to my favorite architect, and my favorite building. Sometimes I think that people are confused when I talk about how much I love the Sagrada Familia, since it can be seen by some as grotesque and gaudy. I am just simply amazed by the complexity of the building and the originality of the elements in it. I have never seen anything like it, and I can’t wait to go back to see it in 2026, or when it is finally completed. I hope I can explore every last corner and examine every detail.


  1. you’ve just inspired a new fan.

    i wish i’d known more about him before… but now i’m anxious to learn. he’s so up my alley. i’m all about gaudiness 😉

  2. Hey Josh and Amy, great pictures from Gaudi architecture. Wich part of his work do you like best? I think I’d have to say La Sagrada Familia. I went there when I was a teenager and not so much into culture. Soon I’ll go back. What’s the best time of the year you think?

  3. Amy

    Hi Maarten. Yes, La Sagrada Familia is my favorite! I am not sure about when to visit. We went in February and Barcelona was having beautiful weather, although the trees on the Ramblas didn’t have leaves, etc. I have also been in April, but strangely, I remember it being colder than my visit in February. Maybe you should try to avoid all of the tourists in the summer time, though… it probably means that there would be long lines everywhere.

  4. Hello Josh and Amy.

    I really enjoyed this post and all your excellent photos. I found this entry as I was writing a little on my blog about the Criterion Collection’s dvd set on Gaudi. I have had a long interest in the association between the usage of the word gaudy and Gaudi…and have always wondered about the confusion between his name and the 15th century word. I’ve often tried to figure out when the word gaudy changed from being a noun to being an adjective for insult.

    I also just posted about the word gaudy in shakespeare. If you feel like reading my film review here it is:

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  7. cri

    i haven’t been to Barcelona yet.
    You give a great picture show of Gaudi’s work, which are great example of the eclectic architecture created in the 19th and 20th centuries. In “this century, ” we are still appreciating his amazing talent.

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