20 November 2009

Gaudi's Barcelona

The consensus among all of us was that we first aim to see the absolutely not to be missed modernist architecture of GAUDI.

Gaudi is considered to have one of the most unique and distinctive architectural styles. His work has greatly influenced the face of Barcelona Architecture and we see his work all over the city.

His work was greatly influenced by forms of nature. There is a small museum inside the Sagrada Familia that has models and photographs which explain why a particular part of the temple was designed the way it was and how it was inspired by nature. The nature aspect is reflected in his use of curved construction stones, twisted iron sculptures, and organic-like forms.

Gaudi also adorned many of his buildings with colored tiles arranged in mosaic patterns, which make them a breathtaking visual experience.

Our first stop was the Sagrada Familia which is considered to be his greatest, yet unfinished masterpiece. It has been under construction since 1882!!! (Nope…its not a typo for 1992) The construction is entirely dependent on donations and is expected to be completed around 2026.

The spindle-shaped spires of Sagrada Familia are striking. They also have another significance for me…it is seen in all Logica presentations, wallpapers!!!

The mile long queue said it all. At first glance it seems a bit ugly...guess because it’s a far cry from the traditional churches and temples...but after a few minutes one realizes that its beauty lies in its ugliness. Slowly one gets used to the sculpture and before you know it you are a fan of Gaudi and are admiring the building for its magnificence

The design has 3 facades but only 2 are complete. The Nativity facade to the East signifies the birth of Jesus. The scene of the birth of Jesus with 3 kings was very elaborately done. One can feel the happiness all around in the sculptures here.
In stark contrast to that is the Passion facade to the West which has representations from the physical, spiritual, and mental suffering faced by Jesus. The sculptures of the figures cut in straightish lines show a gaunt and tormented Jesus. The pain and suffering show on the faces of all the figures. There was one especially of a sad man which was amazing! There is also a figure of Jesus on the Crucifix which was quite impressive. The mosaic patterns on top of that seemed to have been added to act like pacifying factor.
The Glory façade to the South which is yet to be completed will represent the life and death aspects of Jesus’s life.

Next stop was the Park Guell. The bus dropped us at a place from where there was a 2 miles walk on an incline to the gates of Park Guell. Thank god for the small curio shops on the way where we took respite from the boiling sun. The only problem with that was that we ended up buying stuff which we now needed to carry with us all the way up and back!!!

Park Guell was originally planned as a garden city that combined housing and a park area since Guell was apparently enchanted with the English gardens and also wanted to re-create this in Barcelona. The design was integrated with the surroundings so the viaducts, containment walls, and twisting columns are all covered with colourful mosaics.

There is an enormous staircase that leads to the park. The stairs are decorated with waterfalls and sculptures depicting animals. The most outstanding one is the small, multicolored mosaic covered dragon.

Inside the park, is the Hall of a Hundred Columns with the most beautiful roof which seems perfect for some ball room dancing!!! But on that hot sunny day it was the haven that all the tourists were looking for – more so as the noise from traffic was almost inaudible here. The columns hold up the enormous square from where one can enjoy some of the most spectacular views of the city.
From the square there is a nice, winding corridor which leads to the house that Gaudi built for himself that has now been converted into a museum. The corridor has a very ancient look…the walls and columns looked like just stacks of stones.
The other interesting Gaudi buildings were the Casa Batlo and La Pedrera.

13 November 2009

Barcelona – July 2009

A must and long pending blog on Barcelona...a city I fell in love with immediately. It dislodged Paris as my favorite city in the world.

What I loved about Barcelona was the balance...between the modern and the traditional, between art, culture, sports and nature. It’s a complete city where you can get a flavour of everything.

So on one side you have the churches with their traditional Gothic architecture and on the other side you have the modern architecture – houses and churches designed by Gaudi; various museums and art galleries interspersed with the Olympic stadium and the football stadiums; La Ramblas - a shoppers paradise versus Montjuic – a walkers paradise with all its tropical plants and trees.

By the time we finished off with the immigration formalities and checking in at the hotel it was already around 2:00. A quick freshen up and we decided to just go hang out at La Ramblas.

After some aimless roaming around just getting a feel of the city, we decided to take the hop on hop off bus. The idea was to do the whole route to mark out the places that we want to see.

Roof of shop Even in the blazing heat I opted to sit in the open open on the top floor of the bus..no regrets about that. Barcelona is soooooo beautiful. They have the most amazing artwork at the street corners and roundabouts and musicians playing on the streets. Even the roofs of shops were artistic...so to say!

Some of my other favorites were 'Cap de Barcelona' (Head of Barcelona – a piece of Modern Art and the Smiling Lobster.

Modern Art - FACE

Smiling Lobster

Another unique one was seen at the entrance of the Port of Barcelona called Ones or Waves, a sculpture by Valencian artist Andreu Alfaro. It is a stainless steel tubular sculpture formed by seven arcs whose undulation suggests the waves of the sea.


Sheds from recycled materialBut one of the things that impressed me the most was at the Vila Olímpica. During the Olympic Games in 1992, the Olympic Village was originally constructed for the participating athletes on the opposite side of the city to the stadium. This area was originally a disused Industrial site but when the area was being developed numerous sculptures were made from materials recycled from the wasteland. The sheds in the below photo are all made from recycled stuff...I appreciate and admire their social commitment.

By the end of the tour I had marked out sooooo many places to see that I was like ...SO MUCH TO DO/SEE...SO LITTLE TIME’...the next day was gonna be quite busy!!!