The Art Lover’s Guide To Barcelona

Whether you’re an artist, or just an art appreciator, Barcelona has a lot to offer. From the modernism of Miro and the surrealism of Dali, the Blue Period of Picasso and the architecture of Gaudi, the city has been a hive of artistic talent for a very long time. Learn about the titans that found their muse there, and perhaps consider planning your own trip to find true inspiration in this beautiful Catalonian city.

Anthoni Gaudi

Photo of Parc Guell
Photo: Pau Sempere Castillo

Gaudi and Barcelona are synonymous with each other. His work as an architect in the late 19th and early 20th century created buildings and places in the city that have become symbols of Barcelona. Most tourists become acquainted with his best known work and as-yet unfinished masterpiece Sagrada Familia (Basilica of the Holy Family). A cathedral of epic proportions, it’s Barcelona’s biggest tourist attraction and despite still being partially a building site, attract thousands of people to view an incredible piece of art. It’s been under construction since 1882 and is expected to be completed in 2026 on the centenary of Gaudi’s death. It currently has 8 spires and should have 18 by the time that it’s finished.

Don’t let its unfinished state put you off though. The fusing of the earliest parts of the cathedral with new work that is now an interpretation of Gaudi’s instructions make it completely unique. It’s got a strange, curved shape that looks so modern for something that was dreamt up so many years ago.

However, if you want to see what it’ll look like when it’s finished, go to Park Guell, another project of Gaudi’s. There his house still stands, with a perfect little model of the finished basilica inside.

Park Guell is another vastly popular tourist attraction and features a lot more of Gaudi’s colourful, naturalistic architecture as well as a stunning view of the city. Both attractions are stops on the tourist bus and are must-sees for any visitors of Barcelona.

Joan Miro

Fundacio Joan Miro
Photo: Flickr/Marco de Waal

Miro was born in Barcelona but was heavily influenced by Majorca and Paris. His minimalist style is distinctive, and he was a great support of modernist art. The artist invested a lot into his birthplace and chose the city as the setting for his art gallery Fundacio Joan Miro.

The gallery was created by Miro’s foundation and was designed to encourage participation with modern art. It’s a very light and airy gallery, featuring some of Miro’s best known work like the sculpture The Caress of a Bird and his lithographs called the Barcelona Series, a reaction to the Spanish Civil War. Located on the mountain on Montjuic overlooking the city, it’s well worth a visit for art-lovers.

Pablo Picasso

Museu Picasso
Photo: Facebook/Museu Picasso

Picasso moved to Barcelona with his family in 1895 when he was 14 years old and spent much of his time there until he moved to Paris at the age of 33. His family lived in the old town of the city and as he got older Picasso became part of the avant-garde artistic circles there. Barcelona introduced him to modernity, and much of his Blue Period was created in the city.

Barcelona is very proud of their adopted son and one of their most popular museums is devoted to him. The Museu Picasso is focused on his early years, covering his adolescence and artistic development. Picasso always worked intensely and even with a focus on only one period of the artist’s life, the gallery still houses an exhaustive collection.

Salvador Dali

Photo: 500px/Glenn Shoemake
Photo: 500px/Glenn Shoemake

Dali frequently visited Barcelona as a young boy and it encouraged his interest in art. Yet although frequently associated with Barcelona, much of Dali’s work lives outside the city.

Don’t be discouraged however, for if you’re tiring of the cosmopolitan life, there are popular day trips to the small rural town of Figueres where the Dali Museum is located. It holds one of the largest collections of the artist’s work and is a striking building, with strange eggs decorating the roof in that inexplicable fashion favoured by the Surrealist artists.

If you’re up for a slightly longer day trip, you can visit Dali’s odd little house in the fishing village Portlligat. It was his only set place of residence and he lived and worked in it until 1982. It features a great many weird things inside, including a polar bear in full armour.

The house sits on a bay too, and the vista from the window can be spotted in many of the artist’s paintings. It’s a view that’s fairly unchanged to this day and is a great sight for Dali enthusiasts.

And for everything else…

Photo: 500px/Simon Petersson
Photo: 500px/Simon Petersson

If you still haven’t had your fill of artistic attractions, Barcelona has a great many galleries featuring both the new and the old in artworks. One of the best is the dramatic Museu Nacional D’Art De Catalunya, located on the Montjuic mountain near the Miro gallery. It’s a massive building with a huge range of art, and boasts the best collection of Romanesque mural painting in the world.

Deeper in the city in the beautiful Gothic Quarter is the Museu d’Art Contemporani, a modern art gallery that has been open since 1995. It boasts a minimalist style to the gallery, which houses works of international and local artists in exhibitions that change frequently.

Jen Scouler is a masters student and budding journalist in Glasgow. She loves movies, horses and fantasy literature. You can see more samples of her writing at

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