Barcelona’s Top 5 Gaudi Sites

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (1852–1926), is the Spanish architect heralded as the father of Catalan Modernism. His work is highly stylized, featuring organic shapes and few straight lines. Gaudí integrated crafts such as ceramics, stained glass and wrought iron work into his buildings, often using materials in an unusual manner.

His architectural legacy contains seven World Heritage Sites, including his unfinished masterpiece Sagrada Familia.

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1. Like everything Gaudí designed, Casa Batlló makes a lasting impression. Tour Casa Batlló with an audio guide and marvel at the twisted chimney stacks and dragon’s back undulations.

2. Often referred to as his unfinished symphony, Sagrada Família is one the most visited monuments in Spain. Though construction commenced in 1882, at the time of Gaudí’s death in 1926 less than a quarter of the project was complete.

3. Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera or “the Quarry” for its rock faced façade, looks like a set out of the Flintstones. Take a guided tour through the restored interiors featuring art nouveau furniture. Look for jazz concerts or other opportunities to visit La Pedrera at night. It’s a beautiful way to absorb the authentic beauty.

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ABOVE: Dubbed “the Quarry”, La Pedrera proved controversial to neighbours when it was built.

4. Park Güell is considered a garden complex but the brightly coloured, undulating architectural elements make it difficult to focus on horticulture. High above the city, make sure to bring sunscreen and linger in the unusual setting.

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ABOVE: Casa Batlló.

5. Casa Vicens was constructed with rough red brick, befitting the home’s owner, the proprietor of a brick and tile factory. One of Gaudi’s earlier works, it is remarkable for its Moorish influences and assymetrical plan.

Budapest Architecture: Pest

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ABOVE: A distinctive onion dome atop the Moorish revival style Dohány Street Synagogue.

1. Admirers say Art Nouveau is stunningly beautiful, with its fanciful forms, shimmering colours and stylistic freedom. Detractors have a different opinion, suggesting the 19th century style is simply dreadful. Regardless of your position, Budapest offers some fine examples of the style which is frequently referred to as Secessionist. The Budapest Zoo is one such example, though some sections veer heavily towards kitsch.

Dabble Savvy: It’s worth a stroll to see the front gates if you’re in the neighbourhood anyway. Budapest Zoo is near the Széchenyi Baths, Gundel Restaurant and Heroes’ Square.

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2. Hungary’s most important church is St. Stephen’s Basilica (Szent István Bazilika). The 10th century neoclassic style church is named for Hungary’s first king, Stephen I. Avoid crowds and visit in the evening when the artfully lit exterior shames even a full moon. If you plan to do a daytime tour, there is a small fee.

Dabble Savvy: Fans of the macabre may want to pay an additional fee to have the lights turned on in the ‘Chapel of the Holy Right’, to view the mummified fist of King Stephen.

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ABOVE: Every detail of the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace is memorable. The lobby’s graceful Peacock Gates are in the Secessionist style (Art Nouveau).

3. A stay at the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace is a pampered experience. Every detail is perfection, every service exceptional—staff stand at attention as guests walk the hallway en route to rooms distinguished by carved walnut doors. Located near the foot of the Chain Bridge, the impressive Secessionist building has an illustrious history—first as headquarters to the Gresham Insurance Company, then a girls’ home for etiquette and, during World War II, as barracks for Soviet soldiers who burned the furniture for warmth. Restored in 2001, the renovated staircases, stained glass and mosaic tiles by Zsolnay create a lasting impression.

St. Vitus Cathedral, Prague

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Katedrála sv. Vita

While the architecture doesn’t disappoint, the exterior’s most distinguishing feature is a mosaic depiction of the Last Judgment, fashioned of Bohemian glass and produced with the help of Venetian artisans. On sunny days, the exterior display is rivalled only by interior views of the stained glass and rose windows. Catholics are allowed free entry to the chapel in order to pray.