Thursday, July 24, 2014

euro-whirl 2014: barcelona / aka THE LAST EUROPE POST.

we spent half a day in barcelona before flying back to nyc the next day, which effectively put an end to our whirlwind europe trip. it was an ambitious trip: we saw & did a lot of things, & went to a lot of places. at times it was maybe too ambitious - we almost spent more time traveling to the places we wanted to see than actually being in & exploring these places. if we were to do it all over again...i don't know. i was just about to say, i probably would have taken out a stop or two along the way, to give us more time in each place than just a day or two. but what should we have eliminated?? vienna? salzburg?? dover?? my heart bellows a resounding NO to each of those. so maybe, if given a do-over...i would still have chosen to visit all the places we did.

barcelona is an amazing city. half a day in such a vibrant city was not enough. it's at the top of my list of places to return to, someday. we saw some beautiful things, at some yummy gelato (as pictured above - we're both obsessed with green apple gelato!) not the least of which was the architecture. 

the architectural work of antoni gaudí is an astounding standout of the city. he designed several different homes, apartment complexes, & other buildings that pop up around the city. one gaudí work we visited was the home (more like mansion) of eusebi güell & his family. it was...beautiful. i don't think words - or, sadly, even pictures - can describe the artistry & majesty of the place. the official name for the building, in english at least, is the "güell palace." gaudí's work is so distinctive...i just won't be able to do any of it justice. you can read more about the palau güell HERE.

this painting was one of four in this room (one of the many rooms in the home for entertaining) &.......can you imagine living here? güell did have quite the brood...i don't 100% remember, but he & his wife had at least eight kids, or something like that?  

a fireplace in a tiny side room that would be the pièce de résistance in any other home:

the towering, cathedral-like ceiling in the main entertaining room, where the güell family would hold worship services, musical concerts, balls, & the like:

two different ceilings (i'm pretty sure the one on the left was even in, like, a relatively non-special room, like a side hallway or something):


in fact, yep, here is that ceiling in the hallway. those marble arches on the left! that ironwork holding up the lamps on the right! *swoon*

a staircase leading from that main entertaining room up to bedrooms, etc. (there were five stories total in the palace, i think?) plz for you to notice the woodwork of the railing in the top right, the painting above benjamin's head, the various pillars & archways, that bust on the left side of the you can see, i could go on & on because this house had ALL OF THE BEAUTIFUL THINGS:

these large doors were in that main entertaining room. you could also open those shiny gold doors to reveal a small chapel, i believe it was. if you look closely you'll notice portrait paintings on both of the outer doors:

if you're as obsessed as i was with the interior of this place, you can see more images HERE (it's nothing special, just google images :).

the rooftop of the place was just as good. gaudí had a thing for chimneys in lots of the places he built, & the güell palace was no different. with all the fireplaces in the mansion (there was probably one in each room!), there were lots of chimneys up top, & they are all unique & breathtaking. here are a few:

this chimney was right over that pantheon-esque dome at the top of that large room (pictured above): 

i really like the look of the plain brick:

ice cream cooonnneeee:

that blue flame-like image there on the left! & the bubbly green tree-like one on the right!:

here's another gaudí creation. this one is on a main street in barcelona called casa batlló. some people call it the "house of bones." do you see the pillars in front of the windows of that first floor? don't they look like bones? & the deck structures in front of each window kind of look like kneecaps, or something:

& those two antenna-like structures jutting out above that long panel of windows? it all makes it look kind of exoskeleton-y! & we couldn't capture the top well enough, but the roof looks like the spine of a dragon, & it's all symbolic of christian themes & symbols. you can read more about it, & get a better view of the dragon-spine top, HERE

casa batlló is right up against another amazing modernist architectural design. & on this same street, there is yet another fantastic building built around the same time. all from the same artistic movement, yet all so vastly different. it's one of the reasons i love the modernist movement, not only in architecture, but in visual art, literature, sculpture, & other art forms: the movement encompassed such a wide range of styles. the street is called the illa de la discordia, or "block of discord."

& a corner of the third unique building on that block:

a third gaudí building we visited - & the one that i was so excited about! - was....under construction!  it's an apartment building called la pedrera, & it was the last thing gaudí designed before he devoted himself completely to the sagrada familia (which we have pictures of below!) & then died in a tragic accident. anyway, this is what we saw when we arrived at la pedrera:

frowny face :(

here's the barcelona cathedral:

& now we arrive at the sagrada familia, gaudí's unconventional, original, almost manic final (& uncompleted) work. he worked on the cathedral for 14 years & even lived, recluse-like, on the site. what would it feel like, to be that passionately devoted to something for that long? i wonder if it's a bit like parenthood, or something. but what do i know? but yeah, work on the cathedral began in 1882 (!) & has continued since then (stopping here & there for events like the spanish civil war) even after gaudí died in 1926. i loved it. i loved the sagrada familia so much. 

it's interesting - it's constantly under construction these days, & has actually caused a lot of controversy in barcelona over whether or not gaudí's vision is being interpreted correctly, if the sagrada familia is in competition with other nearby buildings & cathedrals, etc. 

controversy has arisen over this façade of the crucifixion over the entrance. called the "passion façade," it was designed by josep maria subirachs. people believe it's too bleak, & even have called it "sinister."

what do you think??

do you see the colorful fruit & vegetables at the tops of those little spires?

the words "sanctus" wound around the large spires, descending in rainbow colors:

the back of the sagrada familia might be even more you spot the christmas tree covered in ornaments & doves??

& the back entrance looks like an underwater grotto. there are sculptures scattered throughout, but in such mid-to-low relief, or so enveloped by the rest of the façade around them, that you kind of have to look hard to really get a good look at any.

i loved this one palm tree:

wikipedia has a nice long article about the sagrada familia. the church was closed by the time we got there, so we couldn't venture inside to check out all the interior wonders, but that just means we'll have to go back someday! all of this is to say...we loved barcelona. out of anywhere on our trip, we were in barcelona the shortest amount of time, but left with the greatest desire to return, perhaps more than any other place we visited.



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