If you’re a fan of architecture you’ve probably come across the whimsical architecture of Gaudí in Barcelona. He was an architect of great vision who died one day being hit by a streetcar in his hometown. Only much later was his body identified and the city went into mourning for its greatest visionary whose parks and buildings dotted the town. Many decades after his death his greatest vision, a cathedral called “The Sacred Family” Cathedral (Sagrada Familia in Spanish) is still being constructed. During my first visit in the 1990’s I couldn’t enter. But it appeared like a massive drip castle made of sand from the outside.
Inside it feels like you’re walking through a whale skeleton. The chalky white interior is illuminated by various hues of stained glass from different stories around the exterior of the cathedral as light of the sun plays the color scale of that scene upon the interior.
The city has multiple residences designed by Gaudí which are open to tourists. Park Güell is a great place to start, as this is where the artist lived. Several small buildings in the park have a Dr. Seuss-like whimsical design. And the huge pavilion beneath the gardens is fashioned with colorful tiles and a colorful fountain stairway.
For an in-depth view of his interior design artistry visit Casa Milà where you’ll get the most intimate experience of his interior design.
Casa Batlló, which is also in close proximity to La Rambla promenade, is a vast apartment buildings offering tours in spite of being in active habitation. On the top floor are the famous chimneys which appear like armored sentinels gazing out over the city landscape.
The gothic quarter is a good place to start a tour of the city cathedrals. Here by the coastal port is where the promenade (called La Rambla) starts. It wends through the heart of the city, lined with excellent seafood and tapas restaurants. Where it opens onto a broad square is where you can find a small stage with nightly flamenco performances.
Barcelona’s largest art museum, the National Museum of Catalonian Art, is high on a hilltop at the west of the city. It appears like a royal residence atop tiered fountains that cascade down to the street level. The collection is one of the best I’ve seen in Europe.
For those keen to dive into the tradition of flamenco, I recommend a visit to the south of Spain. Three towns, Córdoba, Sevilla and Granada will overwhelm you with options for exploring this amazing foot-stomping dance tradition. You can see some teaser performances of Spanish flamenco here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLsKZCk3WZZpcDVTNjbDJBV-XFFC0gBSJT
The Moors who inhabited this region built amazing structures that last to this day. Grenada’s Alhambra is the best example of the style. You’ll see similarities here to Rajasthan and the castles of New Delhi, at the easternmost extent of former Moorish empire.
There are charming towns dotting the country that are fun to visit with short train hops. I recommend Pamplona and Bilbao on the northern coast of Spain. I’ve found traveling Spain by slow-speed rail to be one of the most enjoyable ways to see this country’s many facets.
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A view of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, looking up/down on a mirror at the columns. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA
Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter: https://www.flickr.com/photos/leapingaroundtheworld/albums/72157689959900973
Pictures of Gaudí cathedral Sagrada Familia: https://www.flickr.com/photos/leapingaroundtheworld/albums/72157677623270103
Pictures from Antoni Gaudí apartments Casa Milà : https://www.flickr.com/photos/leapingaroundtheworld/albums/72157689957114403
Pictures from Antoni Gaudí apartments Casa Batlló: https://www.flickr.com/photos/leapingaroundtheworld/albums/72157678928993278
Pictures from Antoni Gaudí’s Park Güell: https://www.flickr.com/photos/leapingaroundtheworld/albums/72157676774367117
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya: https://www.flickr.com/photos/leapingaroundtheworld/sets/72157705765723074
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