Gaudi's Barcelona

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The Sagrada Familia

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.

Inside the Sagrada Familia
Man, when the Sagrada Familia will be finished, it will be a Wonder of the World for sure. Unbelievable in this modern time of quick building that this church is under construction since 1882. It is expected to be complete in 2030, but I don't believe it for a second. It is so incredibly detailed and everything needs to get painted as well. 300 people are working on it every day, though. The Sagrada Familia is the lifework and masterpiece of architect Antoni Gaudí, a very gifted man.

The church has two completed façades 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 Passion facade
The sculptures have straight, harsh lines and all in all it is a very impressive and severe facade. The columns in front resemble tree trunks, as if they have grown from the sidewalk, and they lean into the building.

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 façade 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.
The Passion facade
The columns inside branch out like trees, and the upper levels are framed with concrete leaves, so walking inside the Familia is like entering a forest. There are few straight lines, everything flows and resembles shapes of nature. The sides, the windows, the stairs, nothing is generic. Each has its own unique patterns.

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.
The grounds of a hospital
Two or three decades from now, I am going to return to this wonderful city and, hopefully, see the Sagrada Familia as it is finished.



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.

Entrance to Park Guell
To get there you definately need to take the metro because it is situated all the way in the back of the city, at an upward slope. You have a nice view of the city from the park and you can see the sea from there.

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 water salamander


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!

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The Sagrada Familia
The Sagrada Familia
Inside the Sagrada Familia
Inside the Sagrada Familia
The Passion facade
The Passion facade
The Passion facade
The Passion facade
The grounds of a hospital
The grounds of a hospital
Entrance to Park Guell
Entrance to Park Guell
The water salamander
The water salamander
Inside the Sagrada Familia
Inside the Sagrada Familia
Inside the Sagrada Familia
Inside the Sagrada Familia
Inside the Sagrada Familia
Inside the Sagrada Familia
Inside the Sagrada Familia
Inside the Sagrada Familia
Inside the Sagrada Familia
Inside the Sagrada Familia
Look at that door!
Look at that door!
The Passion facade
The Passion facade
The Sagrada Familia museum
The Sagrada Familia museum
A workshop where people were makin…
A workshop where people were maki…
turtle
turtle
The Nativity facade
The Nativity facade
The Nativity facade
The Nativity facade
The Nativity facade
The Nativity facade
The Sagrada Familia
The Sagrada Familia
A hospital
A hospital
A hospital
A hospital
Sagrada Familia from a distance
Sagrada Familia from a distance
a hospital
a hospital
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
In Park Guell
Entrance to Park Guell
Entrance to Park Guell
Park Guell
Park Guell
85 km (53 miles) traveled
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photo by: fivepointpalm