Barcelona, Spain - What a Pleasant Surprise
We visited Barcelona mostly to learn more about Gaudi, Spain 's famous Architect. We were surprised at how easy it was to get access to the famous Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, which he took over and to which he applied his unique talent and style.
We were also surprised that it is not due for completion until 2026 and that so many people have contributed to it following Gaudi's plan and vision. The Gaudi houses in Barcelona are also easily accessible, though you need to go early to beat the crowds.
You also need to book a tour to get full access to the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, otherwise the queques are inhibiting.
We found Barcelona charming and friendly with lots to see and do. It was quite unlike what we had expected in our ignorance.
Basilica de la Sagrada Familia
The Basilica de la Sagrada Familia was unbelievable and it is not due for completion until 2026. Book a guided tour very early in the day (the first one) as this is the best way to get access and to avoid the crowds. Once inside, the church you can extend your stay if you want to. Spend time examining the exterior, looking ad the various facades, which are all different. Then enter the building. The interior is simply breath taking (see the images below). There is so much variety on the outside as each team of architects, sculptures and designers has applied their own perspectives within Gaudi's original concept. It was meant to be that way.
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Exterior of La Sagrada Família
The church of La Sagrada Família was started on 19 March 1882, originally by Francisco de Paula del Villar, the local diocesan architect. Some 18 months later in 1883, Gaudí was commissioned to carry on the works. Gaudi continued with this project, which was always regarded as a long term one (40 years) until his death in 1926. Gaudi stated that the church was to be built from donations and would not be completed until 'some time in the first third of the 21st century'. Since 1926 various different teams of architects have continued the work following Gaudi's original concepts. Some of his models are on display in the basement of the church. The parabolic arch is a dominant feature with the lines develop by hanging weights and chains and transposing the shapes by inverting them. These techniques are also displayed in the basement. The latest designer is Japanese and it is said that some of the faces used on the exterior were modelled from those of his children and baby-sitters. Each of the different designers has imparted their ideas into the exterior. Some parts are almost 'cubist' in design with 'square faces' (see the images). This aspect makes the building's exterior so interesting. Since 1940 the architects Isidre Puig Boada, Francesc Quintana, Francesc Cardoner, Lluís Bonet and have continued the work. Computers and 3D printed models have been employed for recent design work. These models are on display in the basement. Nativity and the Passion façades were the first two to be completed, and this was the way Gaudi wanted it. The central nave vaulting, was completed in 2000. The Glory facade, which faces south, and will be bathed in sunshine most of the day is the main façade. It has yet to be completed.
Basilica de la Sagrada - ExteriorClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Interior of the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia is Stunning
The interiors of the building were stunning and breath taking. Get there early so the crowd does not destroy your experience. Enjoy the photos, but aim to get there and experience it in person if you can. Go downstairs when you recover and see the display of models and methods Gaudi used to create the parabolic arches. You can also peer into the workshop area and see the many 3D printed models on display of the upcoming work.
Basilica de la Sagrada - InteriorClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Gaudi Designed Houses in Barcelons
Make you you allow enough time to visit two or three of the Gaudi designed houses in Barcelona. We visited Casa Batllo and La Pedrera, getting there 45 minutes before opening on each occasion. These houses are stunning - especially the detail and the consistent theme. The design applies to even the smallest detail like the door handles. The colors and tile work is fabulous. We were told that the wife of the owner of the Casa Batllo did not like the house. She asked Gaudi where she could put her piano. To which Gaudi is said to have replied: 'I think it is time you took up the violin.' Rain prevented us going to the Park Guell which has some excellent displays of Gaudi's work.
Gaudi Houses in BarcelonaClick thumbnail to view full-size
© 2014 Dr. John Anderson