First up: Casa Battlo (pronounced bah-yoh or badg-oh by the locals I spoke with)
This one is considered by many to be Gaudi's masterpiece and he designed everything from light fixtures to door handles and even created a special font just for the apartment numbers. Everything was carefully designed for functionality and obviously - flair.
The building has a nautical/animal theme with the front structures being compared by many to bones. Apparently Gaudi was heavily influenced/inspired by nature and themes like rib cages and fish scales appeared again and again.
It's even stranger to see the house in context, next to perfectly normal apartment buildings and commercial spaces. Below you can see what Gaudi started with - and how much his vision came to modify the existing structure.
Even the servants' quarters were carefully laid out - those slats along the right side were designed to
ventilate and light the space, while protecting from rain.
I somehow deleted the picture I took of the mushroom shaped fireplace alcove so you'll have to use your imaginations.
Next up: Casa Mila, right down the street
It's mostly known for the exterior - seen here:
... and the rooftop (below). Otherwise the building is mostly in use for residential units, so the tour consists of the attic museum, one restored apartment, and the roof.
Gaudi filled the roof with these pillars (they hide chimneys and other functional structures) that seem like something that would be right at home on Tatooine. Talk about before his time - Gaudi designed this and his other works in the early 1900s.
And finally, the main attraction, La Sagrada Familia:
Don't mind the construction - supposedly it will be finished in 10 years although with so many structures still remaining that timeline seems ambitious - especially considering that it's already been under construction since the 1880s.
The truly surprising characteristic of the church - at least to me - was how colorful it was inside. I'd always seen pictures of the exterior and I assumed the inside would be the same... kind of cave-like. In fact, the stained glass windows fill the whole church with color.
On one side warm yellows and reds...
On the other cool blues...
The sunlight produced a really beautiful 'Skittles effect' (that's the technical term). If you can imagine my camera couldn't even catch all the color, this is just a faded imitation of the real thing.
The whole church is supposed to give you the impression of being in a giant forest. Can you see it?
It wasn't all Gaudi's design - for example, the facade below is actually by a more modern artist who was doing his best to represent Gaudi's avant-garde ideas (while certainly making a distinct mark of his own).
Well, that's it! I highly recommend a visit if you get the chance.