Barcelona, Spain: La Sagrada Familia

As we concluded our visit to Gaudí’s Casa Battló, we walked over to another one of his masterpiecesLa Sagrada Familia. In 1882, construction on La Sagrada Familia began with its first architect, Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano. However, due to various disagreements and conflicts, Antoni Gaudí was asked to take over the job in 1883.

To give some background information about Antoni Gaudí, he was born in 1852 and died in 1926 a few days after being hit by a tram. Nobody recognized him since he appeared to be a “beggar” due to his clothes, so he did not receive the immediate treatment. By the time somebody recognized who he was, his condition had deteriorated, and he unfortunately passed away within a few days at the age of seventy-four.

Alongside the church is a museum that showcases the numerous stages of La Sagrada Familia’s construction. One of the walls in the museum highlights a quote from Gaudí (pictured below), and it has since stuck with me. The quote states, “We must all contribute, as it has to be the church of a whole people.” Even after Gaudí’s passing, construction of La Sagrada Familia has continued, and his dream for the church is still, to this day, becoming a reality. Its expected completion date is set for 2026, so there is much to look forward to!

People from all over the world come to see La Sagrada Familia, and both the beauty and spiritual energy that fill the church are truly incredible. There are no words to describe how breathtaking the church is—inside and out—and the fine details in every nook and cranny are immaculate.

The structure of the church is quite interesting. Once completed, “The design will be completed with four domed structures, some 40 metres high, sited at each corner: two sacristies on the northern side; and on the southern side the baptistery and the chapel of the Holy Sacrament and Penitence. These four constructions and the three facades will be linked by a wide, covered corridor, with a double wall, referred to as a cloister by Gaudí, which will insulate the central nave from noise from the street, and allow circulation from one building to another without the need to cross the main nave.

Gaudí’s plan was for a group of 18 towers: 12 shorter ones on the facades (bell towers which will be 100 metres high, representing the Apostles), and six taller ones in the centre in a pyramidal layout reflecting the hierarchy of their symbolism. Of these, the tallest will be the one above the central crossing, representing Jesus Christ, reaching 172.5 metres in height. It will be surrounded by four, slimmer, 135-metre-high towers representing the four Evangelists and their Gospels. A further tower will cover the apse and will represent the Virgin Mary.

Gaudí wanted to construct a building that would make an impact on the skyline, but also show his respect for the work of God, which in his opinion should never be superseded by man: at 172.5 metres tall, the Sagrada Familia is one of the tallest religious buildings in the world but remains a few metres below the height of Montjuïcthe highest point in the municipality of Barcelona”(http://www.sagradafamilia.org).

Barcelona, Spain: Casa Battló

After lunch, my sister and I reserved a time slot to visit Casa Battló—another incredible building designed by Antoni Gaudí, which is located near the center of Barcelona.

Between 1904 and 1906, Gaudí designed and built Casa Battló for a wealthy man by the name of Josep Batlló. Battló lived in the bottom two floors with his family, and rented out the remaining floors, which were used as apartments. As you can tell by looking at the pictures, Gaudí used colors that can be found in nature, but more specifically, marine life.

The outside of the building is designed to look like it is made from skulls (which are the balconies) and bones (which are the supporting pillars for the building). The roof is designed to look like a dragon, and as you walk around the exterior and see the different angles of the house, you’ll notice different colored tiles on the roof. These are meant to represent the scales of the dragon’s spine.

As you walk inside the house, the shapes and colors of the rooms and features are constantly changing. There is something to be seen everywhere you turn. The railing for the staircase is meant to fit the palm of your hand, as are all the door knobs inside the house. The banister itself represents another spine of a large animal. With incredibly large ceilings, Gaudí shaped each skylight like the shell of a tortoise, and made sure that there is an even distribution of light throughout the entire house.

This can be noted in one of the pictures below where the tiles from the bottom floor going up start off as a light blue. As you continue walking upstairs, the tiles become increasingly darker. There is also a glass casing on each floor by the staircase that provides a special effect. So, when you look at the blue tiles through the glass, it seems as though you are underwater, and the different shades of blue really accentuate this. And as if the inside of the house wasn’t beautiful enough, the various views of the city that can be seen from the rooftop are also stunning.

Below, you’ll find a video provided by Casa Batlló that shows the house come to life, as Gaudí originally imagined. It is truly a spectacular piece of art, and besides being a historic and fascinating staple for Barcelona, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

http://vimeo.com/81086090

Barcelona, Spain: Park Güell

Upon waking up in the morning, my sister and I boarded a hop-on/hop-off bus, and set out for Park Güell. Park Güell, located in the northern part of the city is one of the many iconic sites designed by Antoni Gaudí—a significant name in Barcelona. Construction for the park began in 1900 and was completed by 1914. The original goal was to build a housing development on site, so one of the main features here is a beautifully designed house, which was intended to be the first of many.

Unfortunately, the plan did not work out, but Gaudí moved into the house with his family, and the building is currently home to the Casa Museo Gaudí (Gaudí House Museum). Besides the museum, there is a beautiful municipal garden, an exquisite terrace overlooking the city, and an overall sense of serenity throughout the park. It has been said that nature was Gaudí’s greatest source of inspiration, and this is evident since so much of his work revolves around or includes various aspects of nature.

Seeing Park Güell was a wonderful experience because for the remainder of our trip to Barcelona, we would soon come across plenty of Gaudí’s other notable buildings—each unique in its own way. After exploring the park, my sister found a great vegetarian restaurant called Teresa Carles on a side street close to Plaça de Catalunya (the city’s main plaza). The food was delicious, and it was just what we needed before continuing with our tour of the city.

Snapshot Challenge Saturday

This week’s Snapshot Challenge is of a picture taken in Barcelona, Spain. Throughout the next few weeks, I’ll be posting about a recent trip to Barcelona—a beautiful city filled with vibrant colors, breathtaking architecture, mouth-watering food, and an overall incredible energy that can be felt everywhere you turn.

IMG_6172

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain: Night 1

After a long, but exciting day in Lisbon, Portugal, my sister and I hopped on another plane, and made our way to Barcelona, Spain. Although I studied abroad in Alcalá de Henares (near Madrid) for a summer semester during college, I didn’t have as much time to explore Barcelona as I would have liked. Ever since, I have always wanted to return to this beautiful city, and finally had the opportunity to do so.

Upon checking in to the hotel and dropping our things off in the room, my sister and I walked through the city to find a restaurant recommended to us by a local. On our way, we passed the immaculate Casa Battló, which will most definitely be discussed in an upcoming post.

When we finally found the restaurant, we didn’t waste any time! We ordered Spain’s famous patatas bravas (potatoes drizzled with a delicious aioli sauce), as well as fried calamari, sangria, and of course, seafood paella. The food was just what we needed after a long day of traveling, and it was the perfect way to start our adventures in Barcelona.

Enjoying Lisbon, Portugal: Part 4

Once we finished touring Castelo São Jorge, my sister and I had to make our way back to the city center, where we first began our excursion. From there, we would catch a local bus, which would take us back to the airport. As we walked through the Alfama once again, we came across another olden-day cathedral, but our best (and most delicious) find happened to be in the city center. We spotted Confeitaria Nacional—Lisbon’s oldest confectionery, dating back to 1829.

As my sister and I walked into Confeitaria Nacional, we were in awe of the assortment of pastries available on display. We had a difficult time making the decision of what to order, but one of the locals recommend that we try a Pastel de Nata—an egg tart pastry common in Portugal. It exceeded our expectations, and was the perfect treat to conclude our brief trip to Lisbon. As we savored every last crumb, the city bus arrived, and it was time for us to return to the airport and continue on our trip to Barcelona, Spain.

Enjoying Lisbon, Portugal: Part 3

After spotting the Igreja Santa Luzia, my sister and I continued walking through the Alfama district, until we came across the final destination of our walking tour—Castelo São Jorge.

“This castle was built by the Moors in the mid-11th century as a last defensive stronghold for the elite who resided on the citadel: the Moorish governor whose palace was nearby and the elite city administrators” (http://castelodesaojorge.pt). The castle was modified in the 13th century, and housed the first king of Portugal as well as many other members of the royal class.

In the late 1500’s, the castle served a military purpose, but renovation work had to commence after Lisbon experienced an earthquake in 1755 (http://castelodesaojorge.pt). As you can see in some of the pictures below, the castle offers beautiful panoramic views of both Lisbon and the Tagus River.