Antoni Gaudí i Cornet was born on 25 June 1852 in Camp de Tarragona. Some sources say in Reus, where he was baptised, and others at the house in Riudoms, the neighbouring village, where his family came from. His father and both his grandparents were boilermakers, and as Gaudí himself recounted, he learned his special skill in dealing with three-dimensional space by observing boilermakers at work. Another key fact in the architect's childhood was his delicate health which forced him to spend long periods convalescing at home in Riudoms. There he spent many hours contemplating nature, drawing lessons that he was to apply later in his architecture.
After starting his secondary education at the Escolapian School in Reus, Antoni Gaudí moved to Barcelona in 1869 with his older brother. In the Catalan capital he completed his schooling and after meeting the entrance requirements in 1873 enrolled in the Provincial School of Architecture. Although an indifferent student he showed early indications of genius, opening the way to collaboration with some of his lecturers. After gaining his architect's diploma in January 1878, Gaudí set up his own firm. Some months later an event occurred that was to be crucial to his career: he was introduced to industrialist Eusebi Güell i Bacigalupi, with whom he struck up a lifelong friendship and professional relationship. Many of Gaudí's works were commissioned by Güell, his most enthusiastic client.
Gaudí's rise to be one of the most outstanding architects of the first Modernista generation was meteoric. In the final decades of the nineteenth century when he completed the Güell Palace he was already one of the most famous architects in Barcelona. This work saw the end of Gaudí’s first youthful phase, marked by a personal revision of Gothic and Muslim architecture and including buildings like Casa Vicens, El Capricho, the Güell Estate buildings, the crypt of the Sagrada Familia, the School of the Teresianas and the Episcopal Palace in Astorga. From 1890 onwards Gaudí perfected his understanding of architectural space and the applied arts, giving his work unique and unsuspected qualities that stood out from the other Modernist architecture of his day. These were Gaudí's mature years in which a succession of master works appeared: Bellesguard Villa, Park Güell, the restoration of Mallorca Cathedral, the church of the Colònia Güell, Casa Batlló, La Pedrera, and the Nativity façade of the Sagrada Familia.
However, the splendour of Gaudí's architecture coincided with a progressive withdrawal in personal matters. While he increasingly disengaged from social life his religious feelings deepened. In 1914 he abandoned all other work to concentrate on the Sagrada Familia. Aware that he would not live to see it completed, he did his best to leave it at an advanced stage for coming generations. In fact, Gaudí was only to see one of its towers in its final form. On 10 June 1926 the architect died from injuries suffered after being run over by a tram. Two days later he was buried at the Sagrada Familia after a massive funeral in which most of Barcelona took to the streets to pay homage to the most brilliant and universal architect that the city had ever seen.