For many, Gaudí's most prolific work lies not within Barcelona but outside. He designed the church for the Colònia Güell, an ambitious plan of Eusebi Güell's that lies 20 minutes by train inland from the city. Güell was a progressive man and wished to set up a colony for the workers of his textile mill, which was being transferred here from central Barcelona. The colony would contain a hospital, library, residences, a theater, and a church. Only the crypt was completed before Güell's death.
The haunting, grottolike structure stands on an elevated part of the colònia surrounded by a pine forest. Its cavernous dimensions and stone-forest interior are an ingenious method that the architect employed in the planning stages, one that is on display in the museums both the Sagrada Família and La Pedrera. Gaudí devised the models for his work using lengths of string attached to weights, with the weights taking the tension, photographed the pieces, then inverted the photos. What was concave became convex, as in an arch. Thus he was able to measure the angles, build the scaffolding and envision the forms, and pre-date three-dimensional computer drawing by a hundred years. The work is one of Gaudí's most organic: Walls bend and curve at impossible angles and windows open out like beetles' wings.
It's also worth taking a walk around the rest of the colony. The red-brick moderniste buildings were designed by architects Francesc Berenguer and Joan Rubió Bellver. Most of these are now private residences. Many of the other buildings, the factory, and warehouses have been abandoned, which gives the place a ghost town-like ambience.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Highly Recommended 2009
- Highly Recommended 2010