Our second day in Barcelona was by far our busiest: after a lazy afternoon in the park on Friday, we were left with almost all of Gaudi’s architecture to explore, including his famous church, la Sagrada Familia. Antoni Gaudi is perhaps Barcelona’s most famous former resident: his architecture was part of the modernist movement of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, but often his architecture is seen is even farther outside the realm of modernism than the other artists of the time. Viewing his work with a modern eye, I had a hard time believing that these were built in that time period, even believing that they were built in the contemporary age. His buildings are whimsical, imaginative to say the least, and fiercely individual.
Sagrada Familia is hands down the most beautiful church I have ever seen. It is absolutely breathtaking. Open, bright, sky-high, and designed to perfection, this cathedral is unbelievable. There aren’t really many other words to describe it. I was actually in awe. Gaudi’s attention to detail is enviable – every last niche and corner was thought out and designed to be something special. Even the columns on the outside of the cathedral are unique: at the bottom of each column, it morphs into a turtle. A turtle! Genius! This cathedral is famously unfinished, and is in the process of being finished. They ran out of funding, and Gaudi’s unexpected death put a damper on the construction. Even unfinished, it is incredible…I can’t imagine how breathtaking it will be once finished.
Being at this park made me feel like a little kid again: it is so well-designed, so beautiful, and so fun. The park is designed in bright colors and is hidden in the forest at the top of one of Barcelona’s highest hills. The climb up was exasperating, to say the least, especially after a long day of walking in Converse (not ideal), but it was well worth it. At the top, the sea spread below me, the waves lapping against the beach, and the city spread out from it, a cluster of buildings and busy streets that looked a world away.
Casa Batillo and La Perdrera
Nonchalantly planted next to quotidian buildings and upscale shopping, these two examples of Gaudi’s architecture are absolutely incredible. La Perdrera, a large white building taking up a large corner on the intersection of La Rambla and a side street, is slightly more discreet than Batillo, but nonetheless incredible. It is wavy and slightly terrifying, as if he was in a worse mood when he designed it than when he did the others. It reminded me of how Dr. Seuss would make a prison…colorless, but still whimsical in its own right.
Casa Batillo is more gaudy, if you’ll excuse the pun. Gaudy as it is, it is unapologetically Gaudi, which is what makes it so incredible. To be honest, I would love to live there. We didn’t go inside, unfortunately – admission was 18 Euro, and since I was the only one with cash, we really couldn’t afford a nearly 40 Euro admission to this beautiful house. But it was enough to see its exterior, lit up in the Barcelona sunset and absolutely stunning. The detail was incredible, and the colors made a rainbow look dull. The best part is that it is just tucked between two generic storefronts, as if it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.
Gaudi’s First Cathedral
A five minute walk from our hostel, Gaudi’s first cathedral (I couldn’t tell you the name) is located in Gotic and could be mistake for any other architect’s cathedral – if it weren’t for the lavish beauty and intimate detail that defines Gaudi’s work. Though it is obvious this was his beginning – you could see his hesitance to push the envelope, his unwillingness to go big or go home and embrace his larger than life ideas – this cathedral is one of the most beautiful I have seen. Gaudi was famously a devout Catholic, and his love for his religion is present in this church – his passion is obvious. The cloisters are the best part: there is a small pond with geese, and a little jungle-like courtyard that transports you to another world for a few brief moments before entering the church.
Soon to come: la comida (food) of our second day – truly delicious.
Until then, it’s off to Deutschland!!