Sunday, August 16, 2015

Spain Day 10 - Gaudí's Barcelona

On our second day in Barcelona (August 4) we had breakfast and then took a taxi to Park Güell.

Something kind of crazy happened on the way to the park: Alyse, Tanner, Jason, and I were all in a taxi together and were talking a lot to our taxi driver, who was from Pakistan and was a really nice guy. At one point the taxi that held Dad, Banks, Nan, and the kids went through a green light that turned red before we got through. Our taxi driver stopped right over the line, and was trying to see around a bus on our left down the street the other taxi had gone. “I’m going to run it; I’m going to run it,” he said, and then hit the gas to go through the intersection. Right as he turned around the bus on our left, we all saw a car coming from the other direction right at us. Our taxi driver and the other driver both slammed on their brakes, but it was too late – we crashed.

Both drivers pulled over to the side of the road to get out and look at the cars. The other car had no damage, luckily. Our taxi driver’s car did have some damage, but I don’t think it was very bad. Either way, we were lucky no one was hurt. Our driver apologized profusely and took us the rest of the way to the park.

Once we got to the park, we bought tickets for the inner section and then walked around the whole outer area of the park. Park Güell was designed by Antoni Gaudí and his collaborator Josep Maria Jujol.

This day was a really interesting day for me, because at Park Güell I formed an opinion of Gaudí that completely, totally changed when I saw the church he designed, la Sagrada Família, later in the day. Walking around Park Güell, which was cool, but really weird, I came away with the impression that Gaudí was just another one of the weird modern artists that came out of Spain in the early 1900s. He was weird, he built weird stuff, and people liked him. I really thought that was pretty much the extent of his character. Going to la Sagrada Família changed my entire view of him. (I’ll explain that more later in the blog post.)

Like I said, Park Güell was really cool. It had all these crazy walkways and paths and a cool tiled bench wavy bench (that surrounded an entire courtyard) and a room of pillars. It was awesome.

This is the cool wavy bench!
I took a picture of this guy because I loved his outfit.
Here we are all doing the "Nan;" it's how she taught us to take good pictures.

After a small lunch at Park Güell, we took taxis up to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya up on Montjuïc. The museum focused on art from the region that Barcelona is in (Catalonia). We saw a couple really interesting exhibits, specifically their Medieval Gothic Art and their Beginnings of Modern Art.


The Gothic Medieval art was interesting because, since it was all from the same region, you could see specific religious themes that were emphasized in that region. For example, the paintings had many more depictions of demons and devils than I’ve seen in most other medieval religious art.

The Beginnings of Modern Art exhibit was cool because each room had paragraphs explaining the transition from the art of the 1800s to the art of the 20th century.


After we saw all of the exhibits at the art museum, Banks’s kids really needed a break, so Banks and Nan took them back to the hotel while the rest of us headed down the hill a little to the Poble Espanyol. The Poble Espanyol is a village/"architectural museum" created especially for the 1929 Barcelona International Exhibition, displaying architecture from all the different regions of Spain. It was really cool to see all the different kinds of styles of houses; some we recognized from areas we had been to, and others we hadn’t seen at all. It was cool!

You get kind of weird after taking pictures for like ten days straight.
We loved that there were a couple parrots among the pigeons.

From the Poble Espanyol we walked all the way down the hill and took a taxi over to la Sagrada Família, for which we had tickets to enter at 6:15. Banks and his family met us at the church before we went in.

From the pictures we had seen online, I thought la Sagrada Família was just going to be a really weird church. From the outside, it kind of looks like a melting sand castle, and it’s dirty and looks kind of brown. I thought that inside it was going to be equally dark and weird. It’s not even finished; they’re still working on it, 133 years after it was started. It was designed by Antoni Gaudí, who designed the park we went to earlier, and as I thought Gaudí was just some weird artist, I wasn’t expecting much.


I was completely wrong.

Before we went in, Alyse and Tanner told us more about Gaudí and about the church. Gaudí devoted the last decade of his life entirely to building this church, using all his money to build it and eventually living inside of it in the chapel while he worked, because he had sold everything he owned to work on it. Those who knew him said he was completely devoted and religious, and a very kind man. Something important to note is that he wasn't an artist, but an architect – and an amazing one. He did and planned things for this church that had never been done before.

Gaudí made many sketches and models of the church, knowing that he would not be able to finish it in his lifetime. He worked to build enough of it that people would be able to see its potential and what it could be, and so would finished it after he died. He died in 1926. Just a few years later during the Spanish Civil War, anarchists deliberately destroyed his plans for the church, and one of the challenges in finishing the church has been recreating his plans.

After the Spanish Civil War, work continued on the church, completely funded by donations. Towards the end of the 20th century, the church began to be a popular tourist spot, and the government had motivation to finish it to attract more visitors. The church finally has a scheduled completion date of 2028.

Pictures don’t do the Sagrada Família justice. The face of the church that is always shown first in pictures or videos is the Nativity façade, which in pictures looks strange and sort of drippy. In person it’s very different. The Nativity façade was built to celebrate and represent life, and in person you can see all sorts of plants and animals emerging from the stone all over the face of the building. Gaudí intended for the façade to be brightly painted after it was completed, and I hope they do that before they finish the building. Some things on the front were already painted (like the doors and the tree of life) and it really makes the design stand out.

Each of the two main columns sat on the back of a turtle. Here Max is getting eaten by one of them.

When the Sagrada Família is completed, the Nativity façade will not be the tallest section of the church, like it currently is. The Glory façade, on another side of the church, will be even taller, and taller than all of the facades will be a giant central spire that will almost double the church in height.

I was already very impressed with the Nativity façade, but when we actually entered the doors and walked into the church I was completely blown away.

I’m having trouble finding words to describe the inside of the church. It was soaring, magnificent, open, light, and worshipful. Huge columns shaped like trees rose from the floor to create a canopy on the ceiling high above. Breathtaking rainbow-colored stain glass encircles the entire church, with the beautifully colored light pouring through the windows onto the white stone within. It was huge and magnificent and reverent and beautiful.


We walked all around the chapel, then out and saw the back side (the Passion façade), then underneath and through the museum which showed the process of building the church.

After we had seen everything at the Sagrada Família and spent a lot of time there, we took taxis back to our hotel where we all went and hung out in dad’s room again. We ordered room service and had dinner altogether, and played some more cards. Having a big room to hang out was seriously such a great thing when we were in Barcelona; it was nice to have a private place to all relax together.

And that was day 10! 

1 comment:

  1. Wow,theinside of the church is amazing. Too bad anarchists destroyed the plans. I'm glad they are completing it!

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