There are many reasons why Barcelona is considered one of the most family-friendly cities in Europe. There is the beach, the parks, kid-friendly attractions, trams, gelato. But there is also Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona’s most famous and beloved architect. Gaudi’s whimsical and playful designs can be enjoyed by kids the city over, from the Sagrada Familia to Park Guell to Gaudi-designed houses.
Antoni Gaudi was an architect from Catalonia, Spain who spent most of his life in Barcelona, and had a unique and distinctive style to his designs. He took inspiration from the 3 passions in his life – architecture, nature and religion – and incorporated them into his work, creating imaginative and overly-ornate designs. In fact, the word gaudy stemmed from him! His organic, playful style, often times with elements like colorful mosaics and stained-glass, is enjoyed by both adults and kids alike. Honestly, everyone loves Gaudi!
About Sagrada Familia
If there’s one piece of work Gaudi is most famous for, and if there’s one image people associate with Barcelona the most, it’s the Sagrada Familia. You can’t go to Barcelona without visiting this iconic Roman catholic church and basilica! Gaudi took over as chief architect in 1883 (it was first started a year earlier by a different architect), and it became his life-long passion. The Sagrada Familia is still under construction today! When Gaudi died in 1926, only a quarter of the building had been built.
The construction of the Sagrada Familia is funded solely by private donations and ticket sales, and it is slated to be completed – or, rather hoping to be completed – by 2026, the centenary of Gaudi’s death. Only 10 of the spires currently exist, with 8 more being built for a total of 18 to complete Gaudi’s vision of having spires dedicated to the Twelve Apostles, the Four Evangelists, the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ. The Sagrada Familia is truly a work of magical art, with intricate details everywhere you look. Gothic and Art Nouveau styles comprise the underlying design, but Gaudi of course puts his own spin on things by creating a quirky and totally unique piece of work.
You Might Also Enjoy: The Best of Barcelona with Kids
Visiting Sagrada Familia
As for visiting the Sagrada Familia with kids, it’s best to purchase tickets online on the Sagrada Familia website ahead of time to avoid notoriously long lines in the blazing sun. Kids under 10 are free which is a great bonus. There are different options and packages you can choose from – regular tickets, tower tickets, tickets with audio guide, etc. We chose regular tickets with access to the towers, however, unfortunately for us, we were in Barcelona for the August 2017 terrorist attack, and the towers were closed. We hear they are great fun to do with the kids so long as they’re not afraid of heights. And it’s true- I remember going up to one of the towers in my 20’s and feeling a little vertigo!
We did a very basic tour of the church on our own – it was the morning after the attack and everyone was a little dazed – but the kids enjoyed it, particularly seeing a church like none other they’ve ever seen before. We have friends who have done private tours with their families, but we didn’t think it was for us. If you’d like to do a private tour you can organize one through a tour company that specializes in family travel, or the website also books private tours (how kid-friend they are, I’m not sure). There are audio-guides for children, but for 12 years and older, so that didn’t work for us. In general, we loved walking around both inside and outside the church and admiring all of Gaudi’s intricate works. It’s without a doubt a must-do!
You Might Also Enjoy: Neighborhoods of Barcelona: Exploring El Born
Park Guell is the brainchild of entrepreneur Eusebi Guell and Antoni Gaudi. Located in the hillside of El Carmel outside of the city center, it was originally built as a residential complex for the wealthy. It did not succeed, and was abandoned in 1914. In 1922 the city bought the estate to be used as a public park, and since then people have flocked to spend time in the park and admire Gaudi’s creations.
Many parts of the park are recognizable, including the two Hansel and Gretel style gatehouses by the entrance; the steps up from the entrance which have a mosaic lizard; a long, curvaceous mosaic bench; the Doric Temple, comprised of 88 stone coulums, and more. It is said Gaudi’s inspiration for the park’s designs came from his love of nature, and that he incorporated organic shapes into all the different aspects of the park. Most importantly, he did not conform to any particular style, and let his imagination take over. It may not be more evident than in Park Guell.
Gingerbread houses, mosaic animals, stone columns to weave in and out of, all make Park Guell the ideal place to take the kids. Most of the main sites to see are in what is called the Monumental Zone, and tickets are required to enter. It is best to purchase tickets ahead of time on the Park Guell’s website. In addition to the sites, there are magnificent gardens to explore, pathways throughout the park, and a hill to climb to the top where you get fabulous views of Barcelona and the Mediterranean. Park Guell is adventurous, fun and unique, and kids love it.
Gaudi’s work can be seen throughout the city, including La Pedrera, Casa Battlo, and Casa Vicens, as well as in Ciutedella Park. Even if the kids don’t want to go inside, they’ll get a kick out of seeing these buildings on the outside.
You may also be interested in:
Linking up with FARAWAY FILES and FEARLESS FAMILY TRAVEL and CITY TRIPPING and FAMILY TRAVEL TIPS