Antoni Gaudi and Colonia Güell

On our way to Montserrat one day during our recent visit to Barcelona we stopped at the village of Santa Coloma de Cervelló to tour the church designed by Antoni Gaudi that has become known as Gaudi’s Crypt. It’s also sometimes called Güell’s Crypt and also the Church of the Twisted Columns. Gaudi spent ten years designing the church which was supposed to consist of a crypt and a four-story chapel. He began building the crypt in 1908 but in 1914 funding dried up and Gaudi never finished the project. The structure is looked upon today as the architect’s laboratory for his future masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia and it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.

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Carlos at the entrance to Gaudi’s Crypt. Carlos was the tour guide for our day-long bus tour to Colonia Güell and Montserrat. We were at Colonia Güell by 9am and arrived at Montserrat around noon.

Click on a photo to see a larger version of that photo.

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The main entrance to Gaudi’s Crypt.

Gaudi’s patron was the entrepreneur Count Eusebi Güell who brought his textile manufacturing facility to Santa Coloma in 1890. Güell’s idea was to create a workers’ village along the lines of Robert Owen’s New Lanark model in Scotland. Besides housing for the workers he envisioned a school, a theatre, a few restaurants and a church to be designed by Gaudi. Most of the buildings in Colonia Güell were designed by Gaudi’s associates Francesc Berenguer i Mestres and Joan Rubió i Bellever in the modernista style.

View from the roof of the crypt, which was supposed to be the first floor of the chapel.

View from the roof of the crypt, which was supposed to be the first floor of the chapel.

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Inside the crypt.

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View of crypt from the main altar. Gaudi designed the benches so that Mass attendees didn’t get too comfortable.

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The Holy Family sculpture was completed by Josep Maria Jujol in 1945.

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The color version of the photo I submitted for Monochrome Madness 2-49 (see previous posting).

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One of two crucifixes in the crypt.

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The main altar is on the left; Madonna of Montserrat altar is on the right.

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Gaudi’s vaulted brick ceiling.

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Statue in crypt.

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Madonna of Montserrat altar.

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Another view of the brick ceiling.

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The baptismal font is a seashell from the Philippines.

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One of the Stations of the Cross in the crypt.

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Most of the houses in  Colonia Güell were designed in the modernista style by Francesc Berenguer and Joan Rubio, both Gaudi associates.

Güell died in 1918 but members of his family kept Colonia Güell going until 1936 when it was taken over by the workers at the onset of the Spanish Civil War. After the war it was given back to the Güell family who then sold their interests to the Bertrand i Serra family in 1945. The mill closed in 1973 and the manufacturing and residential facilities were sold. Workers were later allowed to buy back their houses and many did. Restoration work on the colony began in 2000 and the crypt was renovated to accommodate the expected influx of tourists.

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Colonia Güell theatre and restaurant.

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Count Eusebi Güell i Bacigalupi (1846 – 1918).

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Houses Güell built for his textile workers.

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I believe this corner building is a convent.

After our tour we all assembled at a tiny museum where each of us was offered a glass of cava. Then we piled back in the bus for our trip north to Montserrat.

Colona Güell and the village of  Santa Coloma de Cervello can be found by driving west on Highway B-23 from Barcelona until you reach the junction with the A-2 autovia from Madrid.  It’s about 20 km from Avinguda Diagonal in Barcelona.

In my next posting we will take a closer look at the stained glass windows, tile mosaics and strange hyperbolic paraboloid shapes of Gaudi’s Crypt.

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About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Barcelona, Spain, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Antoni Gaudi and Colonia Güell

  1. GP Cox says:

    The crypt is uniquely magnificent!!

  2. Amy says:

    What a great virtual tour! 🙂 Thanks!

  3. arv! says:

    Interesting.. never heard before. thanks for posting

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