Barcelona Art & Architecture | Barcelona City Guide
Barcelona is one of the most vibrant and artistic countries in the world, to a point where the entire city doubles as one big art gallery. The city is home to some truly stunning pieces of art and architecture. The finest example of Barcelona's thriving art and architecture scene is the still under construction Sagrada Familia. Designed by the legendary Antoni Gaudi, the cathedral looms tall over the Barcelona skyline, painting an arresting picture. Let's look at the many Barcelona architecture and art landmarks to better understand the city's appeal for tourists.
Why Visit Barcelona for its Art and Architecture
- Barcelona is often referred to as Europe's cultural capital and for good reasons.
- From architectural marvels like the Sagrada Familia and Parc Guell to many prestigious museums, such as the Dali Museum, the Picasso museum, and the Fundacio Joan Miro, there's a lot of art and architecture to experience in the city.
- Add to this some of the finest art galleries and museums in the world and you’ve got yourself a city that's a must visit for any art aficionado.
- The city works doubly hard to guard its buildings and historic landmarks through a special law that ensures their preservation.
- Barcelona also boasts a thriving street art scene with many of the city's walls covered with excellent artwork.
Barcelona’s Most Famous Artists
From early Classicism to 20th-century avant garde masters, the Catalan capital has been home to some of the most renowned artists in the world. From Joan Miro, the pioneer of Surrealism, to Angels Ribe, one of the most important Catalan conceptual artists of the 1970s, many legendary artists have left their mark in the city's landscape. Here's a look at some of the most prominent artists associated with Barcelona:
Antoni Gaudi is deeply associated with Barcelona's architectural landscape. Often considered the greatest exponent of Catalan Modernism, Gaudi was the mastermind behind the iconic Sagrada Familia and other famous structures in the city, including Park Guell, Casa Milo, Church of Colonia Guell and many others.
Antoni Tapies was a painter, sculptor and art theorist who was a founding member of the Spanish art movement Dau al Set. Tapies was best known for his textured paintings that incorporated marble dust and resin. A majority of Antoni Tapies' art was influenced by his experiences of the Spanish Civil War.
After spending his early years living in turmoil and turbulent times in the Catalan capital, Ramon Casas emerged to be one of the most influential artists of the Catalan Modernist movement. Born into a wealthy family in 1865, Casas trained in art from a young age and by the time he was in his early 20s, his work was on display in both Paris and Barcelona. Apart from portraits, Casas was famous for painting the social and economical changes he witnessed in Spain and Catalonia.
Barcelona’s Most Renowned Works of Art
The First Communion (1896) by Pablo Picasso
The First Communion holds the distinction of being the first professional painting ever completed by Pablo Picasso. Picasso created the painting under the encouragement of his father when he was still enrolled at a local art school in Barcelona. The painting showcases Picasso's sister at her first communion and the male figure is thought to have been modeled after their father.
Location: The Picasso Museum, Barcelona
Apse of Sant Climent de Taull (c. 1123) by the Master of Taull
One of the highlights of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) is the Apse of Sant Climent de Taull. The painting is believed to have been painted in the early 12th century by the Master of Taull, who was considered amongst the greatest mural painters of his time.
Rinzen (1993) by Antoni Tàpies
Rinzen, which means ‘sudden awakening’ in Japanese, is considered one of Antoni Tapies' most prominent works. The painting was created in 1993 for the Spanish Pavilion at the 45th Venice Biennale. According to art critics, the hospital bed in the painting is symbolic of the war in Bosnia, as well as a troubling memory from the Tapies' childhood.
Location: Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art
Science and Charity (1897) by Pablo Picasso
Painted when he was just 15 years old, Science and Charity is amongst the most representative artworks of Pablo Picasso’s growing up years. The masterpiece can be best described as a showcase of social realism, depicting a scene of everyday life and is a must visit when in Barcelona.
Location: The Picasso Museum, Barcelona |
The Caress of a Bird (1967) by Joan Miró
Commonly referred to under its French name La Caresse d’un Oiseau, The Caress of a Bird is a colorful part of the permanent collection of the Fundació Joan Miró located on Montjuïc Hill. Created by Miro in his home in Majorca, the statue can be found with others by the artist on the roof of the Fundació Joan Miró.
Woman and Bird (1982-83) by Joan Miró
Also known by its Catalan name ‘Dona i Ocell’, Woman and Birds by Joan Miró is a large-scale statue, part of a trilogy of public artwork commissioned by the council of Barcelona in the 1980s. Despite the seemingly phallic shape of the statue, the female form is represented by the large black hole that appears down the front of it.
Portrait of Elena and María (1863), by Joaquin Sorolla
Famous for his ability to showcase sun-soaked scenes of everyday life in Spain, the 20th century Valencian artist Joaquin Sorolla moved beyond his comfort zone to create stunning portraits of his daughters Maria and Elena. The painting features the two girls as they ride a horse in their native Valencia, wearing traditional jackets.
Las Meninas (1957) by Pablo Picasso
One of Picasso’s most thought provoking works, Las Meninas is a series of 58 paintings. A reinterpretation of the classic Spanish painter Diego Velázquez’s work of the same name, Las Meninas consists of 45 separate depictions of the original painting as well as several detail paintings – namely of the dove.
Location: The Picasso Museum, Barcelona
Top 4 Places to Visit if you’re an Art Lover
Museu Frederic Marès
Located inside a charming medieval palace next to the cathedral in the Barri Gòtic, the Frederic Mares museum is amongst the city's hidden gems. The museum houses many sculptures, painted or in plain wood, from the 12th and 13th centuries, retaining the Romanesque separation of the nailed feet.
Address: Plaça Sant Iu 5,
Ticket Prices: Adults €4.20
- Sunday: 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM; the museum remains open all day on the first Sunday of the month.
- Tuesday to Saturday: 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
A posh gallery located along Consell de Cent, Galeria Artevista features many known artists selling expensive paintings. To enter the gallery, you must buzz and wait to be let in. The process might seem too formal and stuffy but the superb art on display is worth it. (Image Credits)
Address: Passatge del Crèdit 4
- Monday: 2:00 PM to 9:00 PM
- Tuesday to Sunday: 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM
Taller Creativo Bencini
Located behind Santa Caterina Market, this gallery/workshop is worth a visit just for its postmodern architectural design and vividly multicolored roof. Featuring art from Federico Bencini and Raul Pernia, Taller Creativo Bencini is a must visit when in Barcelona. (Image Credits)
Address: Carrer Semoleres 10
Timings: Open daily from 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Carrer Enric Granados
A beautiful, tree-lined pedestrian street in the Eixample, sloping gently upward to Avinguda Diagonal, Carrer Enric Granados is another artistic delight in Barcelona. Packed with hip outdoor cafés, restaurants and famous art galleries, such as N2 Galería, ADN Galería and Ego Gallery, this is the ideal place to stroll for art and maybe even attend an opening on a Thursday night. (Image Credits)
Barcelona’s 5 Most Iconic Monuments
Despite having been in construction since 1882, the Sagrada Familia is Antoni Gaudi’s most famous work to date. The under construction church is open for public viewing and attracts thousands of visitors each day. The grand church is visible from just about every part of Barcelona and a tour of the basilica is both fascinating and educational.
Address: Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain
Arco de Triunfo
A triumphal arch in Barcelona, the Arc de Triomphe was built by architect Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas as the main access gate for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair. Now, the arch is regularly used for city events including marathons and music festivals. The arch is also famous for being the walkway for Primavera Sound annually.
Address: Passeig de Lluís Companys, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Park Güell, another architectural blessing from Antoni Gaudi, is the city's most popular park. The park, built between 1900 and 1914, boasts a labyrinth of architectural marvels that can be explored over a day. Park Guell is also home to Gaudi’s house museum where he used to live.
Address: 08024 Barcelona, Spain
Designed by Antoni Gaudi and considered one of his masterpieces, Casa Batlló is a building in the center of Barcelona. Different from any other building in the city, Casa Batllo embodies a level of whimsey and playfulness that sets it apart. Every unusual curve and curated piece of glass will take you to a world of fairytales!
Address: Passeig de Gràcia, 43, 08007 Barcelona, Spain
A 60 meters tall monument dedicated to Christopher Columbus, the Columbus Monument is another Barcelona highlight. Constructed for the Exposición Universal de Barcelona in honor of Columbus' first voyage to the Americas, the monument is equipped with an elevator that will take you to the top of the monument for spectacular views of the city.
Address: Plaça Portal de la pau, s/n, 08001 Barcelona, Spain
Tours & Tickets to Barcelona’s Galleries & Monuments
Looking to experience all the fabulous attractions listed above? Here are a few passes and tours you can use to explore Barcelona in all its glory.
The Barcelona Pass
- The Barcelona Pass for 2 or 3 days gives you unlimited access to the city's reliable public transport.
- Get free, one-time access to more than 20 famous attractions in Barcelona, including Casa Mila, Casa Batllo and the iconic FC Barcelona Museum.
- Enjoy unparalleled convenience as you can visit the attractions of your choice anytime within the duration of the pass.
- Make good use of the free metro map and a downloadable guide to travel around the city. The guide contains useful information, such as travel tips, attraction information, subway map, city map, and more.
Barcelona City Tour : 1 or 2 Day Hop-On-Hop-Off Tour
- Enjoy a sightseeing experience where you get to decide your travel itinerary in Barcelona.
- Choose from a 1-day and 2-day pass that's valid for two different routes in the city. Hop on and off at any of the 35 stops along the route to discover all of Barcelona.
- The tour bus is equipped with free wifi and you'll be provided with an audio-guide in 15 languages upon boarding.
- Witness the best of Gaudi's creations including the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, and many others. Other Barcelona favorites like the Barcelona Cathedral and Camp Nou are also covered during the tour.
Barcelona iVenture Card: Top Attractions Pass
- Save big money on admission fees from an exhaustive list of 37 of Barcelona’s top attractions, tours, skip the line sightseeing experiences and more
- Using this smart card, you can enjoy hassle-free admission to the attractions to your choice. No debit or credit cards required!
- You can pick from three ticket variants that allow you to access to either 3, 5 or unlimited attractions.
- The pass grants you free access to some of Barcelona’s novelty attractions including Casino Barcelona, La Rambla View Point, and Moritz Brewery
- If you opt for the unlimited ticket variant, you'll get to enjoy a one-day hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus tour.