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Take a fresh look at Gaudi

You may have seen it before, but Barcelona’s astonishing ‘expiatory temple’, the Sagrada Familia, continues to evolve and surprise. Visit it now as the principal and final frontage, the Glory facade, nears completion. The architect, Antonio Gaudi, was entrusted with the Sagrada Familia project in 1883 when he was 31 years old; it became his life’s work. Gaudi’s passionate spirit continues to guide the architects who, in the absence of models or sketches (most of which were destroyed in the Spanish Civil War) use space age technology to explore the innovative architectural paths Gaudi developed by instinct. From its inception, construction has been financed solely by public donations for which Gaudi sometimes begged on the street.The fund now includes the proceeds of the 2.5 million admittance tickets sold annually. In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the Sagrada Familia as a basilica. It is hoped that the church will be finished by 2026, in time for the centenary celebration of Gaudi’s death. More information and ticket options: www.sagradafamilia.cat

The Palau Guell, one of Gaudi’s most splendid achievements, reopened to visitors in 2011 after seven years of refurbishment. The private residence of Eusebi Guell, a wealthy industrialist and Gaudi’s devoted patron, provides a fascinating glimpse of domestic life in high society. Visitors entered the ground floor of the mansion in their carriage; the horses would be led down to the basement stables while the guests ascended to the magnificent reception rooms. Holes pierced in the ceiling of the 17 metre high parlour could be lit by external lanterns to give the effect of starlight. Private family rooms on the second and attic floors can also be visited as can the roof with its 20 fancifully decorated chimneys. The mansion is in the Raval district, just off the Ramblas at Carrer Nou de la Rambla. Purchase tickets at the office 20 metres from the entrance or online: palauguell.cat

The third major restoration of Gaudi’s Casa Mila (nicknamed La Pedrera,the stone quarry) was finished at the end of 2014. For the previous 11 months scaffolding and netting obscured the amazing exterior. Visits include the roof with its astounding chimneys, the attic housing architectural models and audiovisual material, a period-style apartment and the former residence of the Mila family. Arrange a visit online: www.lapedrera.com The Cafe de la Pedrera, open to all from 8:30 to midnight, offers a tour package – The Secret Pedrera -combining dinner with a visit of the building for €55. To book: phone +34 93 488 01 76.

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