Barcelona Travel Blog› entry 4 of 5 › view all entries
The next morning we walk towards the same bus stop of the Barcelona Tourist Bus, not knowing whether the bus drivers are still on strike or not. It would be a shame to just assume they’re not driving without being sure.
Within ten minutes, a bus turns up and we can hop on, buy a day ticket and get a seat at the top deck. We’re taking the blue route today (there’s also a red and a green route), and since we want to go to the Palau Reial de Padralbes first, we get a good glimpse of Casa Batllo and the Sagrada Familia from the bus.
Palau Reial de Pedralbes is a palace located in the northern part of Barcelona. It was designed by Antoni Gaudi around 1902 by order of the Guell family, but in 1926 the family gave the palace to the Spanish king, Alfonso XIII.
The palace is surrounded by beautiful gardens and fountains and the building has been very well preserved. It’s a bit ‘ordinary’ compared to Gaudi’s other work, but still very stylish.
Today the palace houses two museums, the Museo de Ceramica and the Museu de les Arts Decoratives. The Museo de Ceramica covers Spanish ceramic art from its Moorish beginnings through medieval work, up to recent work (including works from Miro and Picasso). The Museu de les Arts Decoratives exhibits household and design objects from medieval times through the Industrial Revolution and Spanish civil war up to contemporary design.
The exhibitions are interesting, but what strikes us most is the extraordinary interior of the palace.
Once we’ve seen both museums and everything the palace has to offer, we hop back on the Barcelona Tourist Bus and ride it until we reach the bus stop at Casa Batllo.
Casa Batllo, former residence of the Batllo family, is located at number 43 Passeig de Gracia and it was built in 1875. In 1904, owner Josep Batllo decided to commission Antoni Gaudi and builder Josep Bayo I Font to refurbish the house.
The result was a spectacular redesign of the façade and a transformation from the initial geometrical shape to ‘not a single straight line in the entire building’. I’m a big fan of Jugendstil, Art Nouveau and the work of Gaudi, but what I see at Casa Batllo leaves me speechless.
The façade is covered in polychrome circles of glazed ceramic and broken fragments of glass in different colours, whose precise positioning by the workmen was directed personally by Gaudi.
Casa Batllo is described as an architectural smile, an outburst of the compositional pleasure of someone in full command of his own individual style that enabled him to escape any imitation or school, either in his own day or subsequently. And I don’t think anyone can add anything to this description of this, except ‘explosion of joy and beauty’ maybe.
I’m instantly captivated by all the glowing lines, the use of colours and the countless mosaics, and I’m so overjoyed by the overwhelming originality I’m nearly foaming at the mouth.
Not far from Casa Batllo we find Casa Mila, an apartment building that was designed by Antoni Gaudi. The façade has glowing lines like we’ve seen in Casa Batllo, but there is hardly any colour. Casa Mila can be visited as well, but we all feel as if it might ‘spoil’ our wonderful experience in Casa Battlo. There is no way Casa Mila can even come close to Casa Batllo, so we just admire the outside and move on.
Our last stop of the day is another masterpiece of Antoni Gaudi, one that’s famous all around the world: the Sagrada Familia.
The building of the church started in 1882 and officially it is supposed to be finished in the year 2026. The main reason why the building of the church has taken so long, is because the Sagrada Familia is not supported by any government or official church sources. Its income is dependant on the entrance fees paid by tourists.
The biggest part of the church is still under construction, and there are several parts for which the construction hasn't even been started.
The outside will have three façade that all depict a phase out of Christ's life. The façade about the birth of Christ was the first one to be finished and has a classic look with a lot of nature scenes. The façade about the passion of Christ is more recent and has a very straight, modern look. This side also shows a ‘magical square’ in which the magical constant is 33, the age at which Christ died.
The front façade will depict the glory of Christ, but construction of this façade has barely begun.
The Sagrada Familia was Gaudi’s last work.
Walking around Barcelona today gave us one huge impression: this city would be half as interesting and even totally insignificant without the legendary work of Antoni Gaudi. It is hard to grasp how huge his influence to the image of this city was, and still is. He has made this city unique and extraordinary.