Antoni Gaudi (1853 - 1926) was a Spanish Catalan architect from Reus and is known best by his highly individualized style of design, Catalan Modernism. Most of his works are located in Barcelona, Spain including his most famous, yet unfinished La Sagrada Familia.
In 1878 when Gaudi graduated from Barcelona's School of Architecture, it's director proclaimed: "Gentlemen, we are here today in the presence of either a genius or a madman".
Unfortunately during his lifetime there was little enthusiasm or respect for his work. Apparently Pablo Picasso thought of his work as "crap" and George Orwell (both living in Barcelona for a time) described Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia as "hideous".
Gaudi was influenced by his own passions including architecture, nature and religion. He became part of the Mondernista movement which reached its peak in the late 19th and 20th centuries. Gaudi went further by creating a design style that was organic through natural forms. He was incredibly detailed and integrated arts and crafts such as stone sculpting, wrought iron work, stained glass and intricate and colorful ceramic tile work.
Gaudi went against mainstream by rarely drawing detailed architectural plans but instead creating 3D scale models and refining details as he went along.
He now has achieved global recognition and admiration and continues to be a topic of study in architectural schools. Seven of his works have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
I personally adore Casa Batilo which was a restoration of an old traditional house built in 1904. You can and absolutely should purchase tickets to tour this architectural wonder. It's fanciful design uses stone, wood, stained glass, ceramics and forged iron. The organic shaped curves and beautiful stained glass windows are exceptional.
It is mind expanding to visit his most famous work, the incomplete La Sagrada Familia, which is now the most visited site in all of Spain. The large Roman Catholic church has been under construction since 1892 with a targeted completion in 2030.
The distinctive architecture and highly detailed facade sculptures explore a relationship between man, nature and religion. It combines the Gothic style with Art Nouveau. The original design by Gaudi calls for eighteen different spires to represent the the Twelve Apostles, the Virgin Mary, the four Evangelists and Jesus Christ. Inside, there is further inspiration from nature with the columns drawing inspiration from trees and branches.
The building construction is not funded through any government or church related entity. It is fully funded privately and through visitor fees which support the annual construction budget of close to 25 million euros ($28.38 million).
If you visit, you can currently access open areas including the nave, crypt, museum, shop, and both the passion and nativity towers.