i had incredibly high expectations of barcelona. it was my #1 place to go on this trip. i'm happy to report that it lives up to the hype i built up in my head.
my main goal was to experience the architecture of antoni gaudi. he's a genius btw. some people don't get it and just see the ornate facades and think wow...that's alot of stuff. but seriously people! can you even comprehend the brain power required to think like this guy? what you see on the outside is just the icing. the structural elements of many of gaudi's buildings were ground breaking. i wanted to explore every place he'd ever designed but our budget and time frame forced me to pick a precious few.
sagrada familia nativity facade above the entrance
the expiatory church of la sagrada familia is still under construction. the foundation stone was laid in 1882 and the completion of the third facade is scheduled for 2030. it is regarded as gaudi's most extensive and elaborate project. he dedicated 43 years of his life to it!
before his death the nativity facade was completed as gaudi wanted those who would continue to work on the church to be aware of it's importance and scale. the nativity facade represents the birth of jesus.
detail on nativity facade
the current public entry is through the passion facade. this side represents the passion, death and resurrection of jesus.
the passion facade
the third facade, yet to be built, will refer to the glory of jesus resurrected. even if you have no religious bone in your body you have to be impressed with the magnitude of this project. it is surreal, awe inspiring and structurally mind boggling!
the interior is still largely blocked off to the public due to construction. you can still get a few peeks at the jaw-dropping ceilings and columns. his inspiration of nature is seen in every detail.
sunlight casting flower patterns on the interior walls of sagrada familia
we were a bit disappointed that to go up into the towers you had to pay an extra 2€50. the entry fee was 11€ per person and there is no mention of having to pay for a lift ticket at the main gate. there are 2 lifts, one near the public entry (passion facade) and one at the 'back' (nativity facade). the line at the passion facade was huge so we opted to wander through the interior, which has limited access, and down through the museum. we didn't know about the second lift and discovered it by accident. the line was much shorter so i'm sure not many people are aware there is a second lift. we paid the lift fee begrudgingly but soon forgot about it as the views of the facade and the city are spectacular from the towers.
stained glass window seen from tower
view of barcelona from sagrada familia
parc guell started out as a park and housing development for the barcelona aristocracy as commissioned by some dude named guell. only 2 houses were ever built (none designed by gaudi) and it was turned into a public park. this place is massive, full of people and free! we went on an exceptionally hot day and while there is shade available there are also hills to climb. we didn't see the whole park. there is a museum on site but i wouldn't bother paying 5€ to see it. if you go to la pedrera you will have access to an exhibition that covers most of the same stuff.
jay on wavy bench
la pedrera roof terrace
for my final gaudi experience i chose la pedrera. known to me from design classes as casa mila but locally referred to as la pedrera. the dwelling was commissioned by an industrialist, pere mila in 1906. gaudi designed two apartment blocks with interlocking patios in order to illuminate all the apartment units. the nickname 'la pedrera' refers to the way it's wavy facade appears to be carved out of rock. la pedrera means stone quarry.
la pedrera...aka. casa mila
with the 10€ entry fee we were given access to an apartment (people still live in the other ones...must cost a bundle!), an exhibit, and the roof terrace. the roof terrace was the most exciting part as there are architectural, sculptural pieces in unusual shapes, some covered in trencadis (broken ceramic pieces) and others left plain. while these elements look cool they are also provide three different functions: staircases, ventilation towers and chimneys. wow! the decorative ones can be seen from the street.
a vent or a chimney...you decide
corina standing beside the staircase enclosure
we saw the exterior of casa batllo but with the steep entry fee of 16€50 we decided to pass. the exterior is pretty sweet though but the lighting wasn't great for photos.
with all this gaudi on the brain i completely forgot to go see mies van der rohe's german pavilion. we walked within steps of the building on our last few hours in the city but i didn't know it was there. gah! there's always next time, i guess...