From cave to cathedral

La Sagrada Familia Travel Blog

 › entry 13 of 15 › view all entries
I want to have a birthday cake that looks exactly like this.

The end of our stay in Barcelona is slowly coming closer, but today we are going to visit two more highlights of the city.

The first is Casa Mila, due to the appearance of its façade better known by the nick-name La Pedrera, the stone quarry. It's just my wife and myself now, my parents stayed behind to relax in and around the appartment, and we arrive at the entrance just after opening time. We have to leave our bags at the wardrobe with everything in them. Tripod photography isn't allowed inside (what is it with the Spanish and tripods?) so the steadyness of my hands will be put to the test again today.

The cave-like entrance leads to a circular courtyard with the open sky seven stories above us.

Some aliens forgot their helmets...
An elevator then takes us several stories up, to the part of the museum telling all about Gaudí's works and his way of working. He, for example, didn't use difficult calculations for the balanced arches he used so often (the space we are standing in now is covered completely by them), he merely attached chains with both ends to the ground floor drawing of his designs and then turned the whole thing upside down. There are also quite some examples of natural materials that inspired Gaudí, from spunges to animal bones.

Next we go further up by a flight of stairs, leading to the rooftop terrace. This roof must be amongst the most photographed roofs in the world, with chimneys looking like helmets left behind by aliens and sides looking like a trading vessels from the golden age, gunlatches open, ready to counter an attack by pirates.

The kitchen in the early 20th century appartment inside Casa Mila.
The occasional arch and all the "whipped cream"-like shapes giving the roof the looks of a cake when seen from a different angle. I could linger here for a long time, if only the sun wouldn't try so hard to fry my brain.

The next part of the exhibition is a lot cooler, two appartements have been decorated like they could have been in the early 20th century. Touching the furniture is prohibited, because everything is authentic, there are no replicas. When we get to the bathroom a British couple with their (approximately) five year old son are having a look as well. The father points at a device hanging on the wall, whispering to his wife that anal showers already existed in those days. Two seconds later the little boy points at the same device asking loud and clear: "Daddy, what's that?? Mom and dad try to avoid giving an answer by pointing at the toilet saying that it looks exactly like their own toilet, but the boy won't be distracted and asks over and over again.

The wrought iron balconies and the wavy shapes made this building famous.
We wish the couple best of luck and move on, trying our best not to laugh. After having seen the kitchen and the childrens play room, and the shop of course, we go down to ground floor again, collect our kit and walk towards Placa de Catalunya.

It's lunch time now and I tell Trudy that I would really like to eat at the Hardrock Café again. Trudy is willing to come along, but does make clear that we should be eating Spanish food instead of American, for as long as we are in Spain that is. Once again the food is fantastic, but it is a pity that the waiter makes us wait for our change for almost half an hour. Not on purpose, he just forgot.

We walk back to our appartment to meet up with my parents, but we find them before getting there.

The ceiling of La Sagrada Familia is of unimaginable beauty.
They are sitting in the shade of some trees next to the Avinguda Parallel. The four of us go home for a moment of relaxation and a couple of drinks in our airconditioned living.

We wait for the most extreme heat to go away before we start walking again. By the time we get to La Sagrada Familia it's five o'clock and the buses with tourists have gone back to their beaches again, so we don't have to stand in line for our tickets. The entrance is on the new "Passion" Façade of the enormous building, which is in my humble opinion not as beautiful as Gaudí's "Nativity" facade on the other side of the structure. On the inside the columns supporting the roof (for as far as it is finished) look like giant grass halms, the stained glass window shedding a special light on the interior. The enormous scaffolding (the cathedral is still a building site) looking like the web of a monstrous spider (ever seen Lord of the Rings?)

The elevator to the viewing platform on the "new" side of the building is closed at this time, but the one on the "old" side is still open.

The "new" Passion façade of La Sagrada Familia.
The views from the top are more than worth the 2 Euros that you have to pay to get on the elevator, and it is a fact that all the money paid by tourists here goes to the construction of the building, for me that is another reason to take the lift. It would be nice to see this thing finished in ten or so years...

Underneath the cathedral is a museum that explains a lot about the buildings history and the way it was designed and constructed, it's worth spending some time here as well.

My parents leave at a certain moment, Trudy and I keep on looking our eyes out until we get kicked out at closing time. 40 years of his life Gaudí dedicated to designing and constructing this miraculous building, twelve of which he lived permanently in a shed on the building site.

The Nativity façade of La Sagrada Familia.
He died in a hospital three days after being run over by a tram, leaving the project far from finished.

I find it hard to turn my back on the Sagrada Familia and walk away, there are so many more details to discover... There's one thing pulling me back to the city centre, though: my stomach! It's way past dinertime and I'm starting to get quite hungry. We eat at Tapa Tapa again, we agreed to all eat here and maybe see each other here. My parents, however, are nowhere to be seen, they must have already gone home. We order half a litre of Sangria with our food and savour the moment (and the delicious tapas). The waiters recognise us and come over for a chat, it's not very busy in the restaurant, so they can take a little break.

By the time we get back to the appartment it is about time to go to bed, briefly we evaluate the day and then we're off to bed.

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I want to have a birthday cake tha…
I want to have a birthday cake th…
Some aliens forgot their helmets...
Some aliens forgot their helmets...
The kitchen in the early 20th cent…
The kitchen in the early 20th cen…
The wrought iron balconies and the…
The wrought iron balconies and th…
The ceiling of La Sagrada Familia …
The ceiling of La Sagrada Familia…
The new Passion façade of La Sa…
The "new" Passion façade of La S…
The Nativity façade of La Sagrada…
The Nativity façade of La Sagrad…
The infanticide, ordered by king H…
The infanticide, ordered by king …
The shroud with the face of Jesus.…
The shroud with the face of Jesus…
La Sagrada Familia.
La Sagrada Familia.
One of Gaudís models with chain …
One of Gaudí's models with chain…
The rooftop of La Pedrera with its…
The rooftop of La Pedrera with it…
The staircase in the courtyard of …
The staircase in the courtyard of…
The nave of La Sagrada Familia loo…
The nave of La Sagrada Familia lo…
The chain arches model of La Sag…
The "chain arches" model of La Sa…
One of the colourful peaks of the …
One of the colourful peaks of the…
Mary with baby Jesus. Detail of th…
Mary with baby Jesus. Detail of t…
From this side it looks like a mer…
From this side it looks like a me…
King with gift. Detail of the Nati…
King with gift. Detail of the Nat…
Jesus hanging on the cross, above …
Jesus hanging on the cross, above…
Doubting Thomas a.k.a. Judas, depi…
Doubting Thomas a.k.a. Judas, dep…
La Sagrada Familia
photo by: Stormcrow