Today, I learned from Google, is Antoni Gaudí’s 161st birthday.

Just last week, I was in the Barcelonan sun, discovering this amazing architect’s work in person. The Modernista darling designed some of the most interesting apartments, parks, houses, and Spain’s #1 tourist attraction (which has been under construction for more than 100 years), La Sagrada Família.

I was told they’d tried to develop a film about Gaudí, seeing as he’s such a hot name, but, unlike Dalí or Picasso, Gaudí’s life was not dramatic or romantic enough. That’s what you get for being totally and utterly devoted to your work. Although he did get hit by a tram on June 7th, 1926. Everyone thought he was a tramp, so didn’t bother bringing him to the hospital. People are awful. He died three days later.

Other than that, no romance or raucous adventures for Gaudí! Work and God, that was enough for him. But God, what beautiful work!

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The courtyard of La Pedrera (built 1905-1910)

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On the roof of La Pedrera.

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View of La Sagrada Família from the roof of La Pedrera.

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Imagine living in this apartment… Casa Batlló.

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Detail of La Sagrada Família being constructed.

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Waiting to get into La Sagrada Família. If you want a glimpse of the amazing interior, get there early. Very early. Or get your tickets online.

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The spellbinding ceiling of La Sagrada Família.

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Inspired by nature: trees as columns in La Sagrada Família.

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Stained glass and amazing light, La Sagrada Família.

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Walkway at Parc Güell.

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That famous bench, Parc Güell.

Wandering a city where the façade of a building can have you entranced for many minutes (I was going to say hours, but that’s ridiculous) made me wonder why we are so afraid to inject any kind of originality in our own everyday architecture. It is possible to be beautiful and functional at once.

And I’m sure each city has its own aspiring Gaudí, just waiting for a chance to carve something spectacular into a skyscraper. Obviously, the argument is money, right? No one has any money, so build fast and cheap.

But they charge hundreds of individuals €18 each to go into La Sagrada Família (more if you want to visit the towers, which I was too scared and cheap to do), €16.50 for La Pedrera, €18.15 for Casa Batlló… the park is free (until further notice). So someone is making their money back.

I demand more beauty (and not just the kind that you have to look for through the cracks in the concrete)!

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