A crucial part of any culture is architecture, which can be noticed just by strolling cities of a particular country. That surely stands for Spain, and this article will narrate you about prominent Spanish architects, whose masterpieces can still be seen in cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao, Santiago de Compostela, Valencia, and others.
One of the most outstanding and frequently encountered styles of architecture – apart from Art Nouveau – is Spanish Baroque. Though, one is frequently able to see a mix of styles, as in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, which was built back in 1211 and which appears to be a mix of Baroque, Gothic, and Romanesque styles.
Pedro de Ribera (1681–1742) indeed belonged to those prominent Spanish architects of the Baroque period, whose works one can observe nowadays. He was a learner of José Benito de Churriguera, whose obsession was adding lots of decorations to each of the buildings, designed by him (such as Madrid’s Goyeneche Palace or the Cathedral of Salamanca). Ribera created most of his masterpieces in Madrid, while the number of his work exceeds a few dozen. In 1718-1719, he was appointed as the city’s Lieutenant Major Master of Works and Sources, which is a clear sign of the significance of his works to the city – lots of bridges, churches, fountains, and palaces were built according to his design. And despite the fact that many of his works were later redesigned or destroyed, some of them – like Madrid’s Royal Hospice of San Fernando – can be observed at the present time.
La Sagrada Família, or the uncompleted magnum opus of Antoni Gaudí
Another important landmark in the Spanish architecture was the period of Neoclassicism, whereas Juan de Villanueva appeared to be the most influential architect of that time. Influenced by the works of the prominent Irish philosopher Edmund Burke, he played a key role in changing the appearance of Madrid. There are many buildings and places, designed or reformed by Villanueva – namely, Plaza Maya in Madrid was reformed by this prominent Neoclassicist architect. Yet, the indisputable masterpiece of his is what we know today as Prado Museum, initially built as a Museum of Natural History.
At the intersection point of the 19th and 20th centuries, Antoni Gaudí, who definitely appears to be among the most outstanding and prominent Spanish architects, completely changed the looks of Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia. Gaudí has been frequently – and deservedly – mentioned as the brightest representative of Catalan Modernisme Style, whereas his works can be observed not only in Barcelona, but also across parts of Cantabria and León. He was among the first architects of those times who combined traditional styles of architecture with new, modernist ones.
The undisputed magnum opus of Gaudí is La Sagrada Família, a majestic Catholic basilica in Barcelona. The fate of the church wasn’t that easy to predict – as Gaudí became involved in the project when the building was already designed. The old architect resigned after the arrival of Gaudí, and the extraordinary Catalan architect prepared an unbelievable mix of Gothic and Art Nouveau styles, making it one of the greatest projects in the history of architecture. The building’s construction was interrupted a number of times – in particular, by the Spanish Civil War – and is scheduled to be completed by 2028. Other notable Gaudí’s masterpieces in Barcelona include Casa Batlló and Casa Milá.