27 Nov The top 9 most emblematic buildings in Barcelona
We offer you a list of famous buildings that you can’t miss when visiting the city
Barcelona is one of the world capitals of architecture. The city is full of buildings that are authentic works of art, with a variety of styles among which stands out the originality of Catalan modernism. Of all the architectural gems you can visit, we have prepared a guide with the 9 most emblematic buildings in Barcelona.
1. La Sagrada Familia
The main icon of Barcelona and modernism, La Sagrada Familia represents the symbols of the Christian faith through an incomparable combination of artistic disciplines that explains why it is the most visited monument in Spain and one of the most visited in Europe.
The exterior has three majestic facades that represent the birth, passion and death of Jesus Christ through a sculptural ensemble that recreates the main passages of his life: the kiss of Judas, the Last Supper, The Judgment of Jesus, the Ecce Homo, etc…
The interior of the basilica will transport you to a fantasy world in which the columns recreate the shapes of nature, imitating a huge and colourful forest of stone.
After more than a century under construction (the works began in 1882), it is expected that Gaudí’s masterpiece will be completed in 2026, coinciding with the centenary of his death.
2. Casa Batlló
In 1904 the businessman Josep Batlló contacted Antonio Gaudí to design remodel an old building located on Passeig de Gràcia… and he changed it from top to bottom.
The Catalan architect transformed the modest building into one of his most impressive and admired creations, declared a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2005.
The building symbolises the battle of Sant Jordi, patron saint of Catalonia, against the dragon (representation of the evil). On the roof, the dragon’s back is represented by tiles of different colours in the form of scales, crossed by a four-armed cross evoking the sword of Sant Jordi.
On the top floor there is a flower-shaped balcony reminiscent of the princess’s balcony, and the popular legend says that on the lower floors, the remains of the dragon victims are placed, symbolised by balconies in the shape of skulls and columns in the shape of bones.
But not only is the exterior impressive. The beautiful interior courtyards of Casa Batlló evoke the depths of the sea thanks to the details of the ventilation system and Gaudí’s incredible mastery of light, colour and different decorative materials (glass, wood, iron, etc.).
3. La Pedrera
If you are still not dazzled by Gaudí’s legacy in Barcelona, la Pedrera (also known as Casa Milà) will definitely conquer you. The building has six floors full of sinuous curves, impossible architectural forms and a decoration that, as in the Sagrada Familia and most of Gaudí’s works, recreates the forms of nature.
But if anything stands out in the Pedrera is its unusual roof with a great artistic and symbolic power, in which its chimneys in the form of sculptures of warriors form an impressive army of stone.
4. Cathedral of Barcelona
In the heart of the historic centre can be found the imposing Cathedral of Barcelona, whose walls have witnessed eight centuries of the city’s history.
Thus, the current building was erected between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries on an ancient Romanesque cathedral, built on a church of the Visigothic period that preceded a paleochristian basilica, whose remains can still be seen in the underground area of the Museum of the History of the City of Barcelona.
Finally, at the end of the 19th century it was completed with the façade and the central neogothic tower. The cathedral that hides almost as many curiosities as stones. Among them are the 200 gargoyles that watch the city from the heights, its 21 bells with a woman’s name or the 13 geese that live in the cloister, which recall the thirteen martyrs that had to suffer Santa Eulàlia (the martyr who gives name to the temple) for refusing to renounce to his Christian faith.
5. La Boquería
Located less than 10 minutes walk from the Hotel Arc la Rambla, La Boqueria is the oldest, largest and most emblematic gastronomic market in the city. The variety of its 300 stalls is a metaphor for the multiculturalism that characterises Barcelona, where you can find everything from typical Catalan products to exotic delicacies while enjoying an atmosphere full of charm, colour and life.
If you want to eat right there, in La Boqueria you will also find magnificent restaurants and food stalls like El Quim de la Boqueria or the Bar Central de la Boqueria, where you can taste tapas and dishes made with fresh products from the same market.
6. Santa Maria del Mar
The basilica of Santa María del Mar, located in the Born district, is considered the best example of Catalan Gothic architecture thanks to its elegant and austere façade, its endless columns and the beauty of stone surfaces.
The temple, which inspired the famous novel “The Cathedral of the Sea” by Ildefonso Falcones, was built between 1329 and 1383 and was funded by the parishioners of the neighborhood, who helped raise it with their money and hard work.
As a curiosity, camouflaged between the beautiful windows of the basilica you can find a shield of FC Barcelona. Why? Discover it in our post about Barcelona’s best kept secrets 😉
7. El Liceu
Since its inauguration in 1847, the greatest opera arias have been performed at the Liceu and it has hosted artists such as Enrico Caruso, Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti or the local artists José Carreras and Montserrat Caballé.
After suffering several fires and even an attack throughout its history, the building has resurfaced from its ashes over and over again and after its last reconstruction maintains the original essence, with some technical improvements, to become a cultural symbol of Barcelona and one of the theatres with the largest capacity in Europe (2,292 seats).
The building is a work of art worth visiting; but the best thing is to admire it while you enjoy the magnificent concerts and performances that the Liceu continually hosts. You can find the complete programme here.
8. Palau de la Música Catalana
Built between 1905 and 1908 by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, the Palau de la Música is one of the most unique concert halls in the world (with superb acoustics) and one of the most representative monuments of Catalan modernism.
The building is articulated around a central metallic structure covered with glass, which light turns the building into a magic music box where all the applied arts are combined: sculpture, mosaic, stained glass and forge.
In order to enjoy this masterpiece, the Palau de la Música Catalana offers guided tours that will allow you to discover magical corners such as the impressive inverted glass dome that decorates and illuminates the main hall, the organ that presides the stage or the sculptures and mosaics dedicated to great composers such as Wagner or Beethoven.
9. Hospital de Sant Pau
Another of the Barcelona’s modernist buildings is this work of Lluís Domènech i Montaner.
The guided tour will allow you to discover its amazing history (it was initially built at the beginning of the 20th century as a garden city for the sick) and the secrets of an enclosure that includes underground tunnels, beautiful gardens, sculptures, stained-glass windows, mosaics and all kinds of applied arts.
So far our overview of the nine most important buildings in Barcelona. Do you think we missed any?