Antoni Gaudi is arguably Barcelona’s greatest architect with a long list of masterpieces like the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and Casa Milà. Gaudí also had numerous projects, some built to full completion and acclaim while others remain unfinished but still a mesmerizing to see. Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia may be his greatest masterpiece even as the building continues to be completed, but one other unfinished building is a hidden gem in Barcelona: The Church of Colònia Güell and the surrounding town.
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The Phantom Construction
Gaudí began construction on Colònia Güell in 1898 under the support of Eusebi Güell, a wealthy textile businessman who donated the land that would become the park bearing his name as well. Due to economic issues, only the crypt was completed and the project was formally abandoned in 1916. Regardless, it’s studied and adored by fans and historians to this day. The building remained unfinished but used as a church, particularly after the Civil War, for the town’s industrial workers and their families. In the 70s, when the dictatorship fell, so did the town’s factories. The surrounding areas were sold as private homes or used by public institutions when, in 2000, Gaudi’s unfinished gem underwent its restoration.
When first commissioned, the project called for the church to have a lower and upper nave topped by towers and dome forty meters high. In the church, the naves were made without using any support walls by constructing leaning pillars that give the main wall an abstract, figurative shape with seemingly neverending curves. The bell tower is open-air where its Romanesque arches and the groundwork for what would have been the upper church can also be seen. It’s repetitive throughout the building and gives away Gaudi’s explicit detail in his construction as can be seen in his other works. Using broken tiles, Gaudi created various patterns known as the “Trencadis Mosaic,” which is a lengthy process in order to break, place together, and cement the tiles. It’s a work of “Art Nouveau,” is the common architectural style throughout Gaudi’s other masterpieces.
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Just 20 minutes from Barcelona lies this gorgeous tourist spot designed by Gaudi. Colonia Guell and its church are a must-see in the city, as well as Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia. It’s a project that makes others understand the mind and touch of his creation and how he continued to push the boundaries of what can be built throughout his lifetime. Just as radical as today’s buildings, it’s no wonder why it’s listed as a Site of Historic and Artistic Interest as well as a UNESCO heritage colony town.
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*Main photo by volanthevist [Jere & Gemma] via Visualhunt