Barcelona Travel Blog› entry 2 of 4 › view all entries
We woke up at nine and hurried ourselves out of the dormitory and into the city, but within half a day we would take the bus to Girona and leave Barcelona. We had to make choices. What would we like to see in that short stretch of time?
On top of my list was the Sagrada Familia, the church of the Holy Family. I have never really taken a good look at this church. The first time I did a bus tour, a real hop-on-hop-off affair and I got no more than a quick glance. The second time it was so darn hot that we took shelter under the trees across the roads and we really couldn't stomach to wait in line in that sun to enter the Familia.
It started to rain when we stood in line, and, luckily for us, a mayor rainstorm passed while we were inside.
The church has two completed faÃ§ades so far, but neither is going to be the main entrance. The church has a bloated cross-shape and the entrances are at the sides. There is the Passion Facade which is austere, plain and shows scenes from the Passion of Christ.
The Nativity Facade at the other side is completely different. It is decorated with so much detailed scupture that it is almost a chaotic mess. It shows many scenes from nature and many animals, such as horses and lizards. The whole thing needs to get painted in the future. Don't miss the turtles that support the two columns in the front. And on top of the faÃ§ade there is a big crop of leaves with fluttering birds attached on the outside.
The real reason to buy a ticket is of course to go inside. Since there is a small army of construction workers hammering away, you can enter the church only a hundred meters or so, but it is very very impressive and you will start to understand why it takes such a long time to build this church.
Underneath the church, in the crypt, is housed a museum. Here you can see an overview of the past century of work and the plans and sketches of Gaudi. There are also workshops where employees are painting fruit sculptures for the roof, and a workshop where people are simply continuously making models of parts of the church.
So far, eight of eighteen tall towers are standing. The tallest, measuring a height of 170 meters with an immense cross on top, is still to be built.
On our way to Park Guell, we also passed a famous hospital with some very striking architecture. You'll have to pay to get inside, but from the entry building you can sneak a peak through the windows and see the inner grounds for yourself. It is quite amazing. You'll find it at the end of the Avenida de Guell, which runs from the Sagrada Familia to the hospital. By this time the sky suddenly cleared and the sunny weather was perfect for our next destination:
This park is perhaps my favorite attraction of Barcelona. It is an enchanting mixture of nature and fantasy and once again designed by the genius Antoni Gaudi.
The entrance to the park is a unique sight; the gate is flanked by two candylike little houses, with walls of cookiedough and roofs of sugar, but straight in front of you the stairs go up to fountains, columns and much much more. Halfway up the stairs there is Gaudi's famous water salamander and everyone will make a picture of it and put his/her hand underneath its mouth. Then come the columns, most of them straight, but some are standing at an angle. This is an odd place, empty and a bit eery. And curiously devoid of people. On the sides you can then ascend to the big and crowded plaza above.
The undulating rim of the plaza is decorated with mozaics and gargoyles and it is everybody's favorite place to take a rest and enjoy the view. Mid-summer it is very crowded here. But all that I have described is only the entrance. In the forest above wait paths and plateaus that run at angles and stony pillars that seem to be glued together. Columns seem to grow from the rock and twist like snakes or wave like the sea. It is a little fantasy world. We spent our final hour in the park before returning to the hostel and take the bus to Girona.
Goodbye Barcelona! Until our next meeting!