Founded as a Roman city, Barcelona became the capital of the County of Barcelona.
After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, Barcelona continued to be an important city in the Crown of Aragon.
Particularly renowned are the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean is located in Barcelona.
The city is known for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics as well as world-class conferences and expositions and also many international sport tournaments.
It was going to be difficult to top our experiences in Valencia (https://the-tin-man.com/2013/07/23/chapel-of-the-holy-grail-valencia-spain/), but we felt that we must stop in Barcelona.
The Hotel was quite nice and centrally located.
We immediately found the city to be much more dirty than other cities in Spain.
I know, I know, I know……everyone raves about Barcelona………
…..and a trip there is not complete without a visit to see the works of Antoni Gaudí i Cornet.
Gaudí was a Spanish Catalan architect born in Reus, in the Catalonia region of Spain in 1852.
Much of Gaudí’s work was marked by his big passions in life: architecture, nature, religion.
Gaudí studied every detail of his creations, integrating into his architecture a series of crafts in which he was skilled: ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry.
He introduced new techniques in the treatment of materials, such as trencadís, made of waste ceramic pieces.
After a few years, under the influence of neo-Gothic art and Oriental techniques, Gaudí became part of the Modernista movement which was reaching its peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
His work transcended mainstream Modernisme, culminating in an organic style inspired by nature.
Gaudí rarely drew detailed plans of his works, instead preferring to create them as three-dimensional scale models and molding the details as he was conceiving them.
Between 1984 and 2005, seven of his works were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Gaudí’s works reflect his highly individual and distinctive style and are largely concentrated in the Catalan capital of Barcelona, notably his magnum opus, the Sagrada Família, his masterpiece, and still-uncompleted ,
is one of the most visited monuments in Catalonia…..so of course we had to go….
…this is when my realization that I did not like Barcelona began to take form..
The walk to the church was through sidewalks strewn with litter and with people bumping into you and panhandlers in the streets…….so very, very different from any other city I have ever visited in Spain…
Then we come upon the Gaudi masterpiece…………
…a carnival atmosphere, shouting, lines of people, tour buses with loud speakers, walking tour guides with bullhorns……….for the love!!!
Then there is the church…………sorry to all you Gaudi lovers…………it is ugly…
After that visit, I needed a more traditional building……The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia
The cathedral was constructed from the 13th to 15th centuries, with the principal work done in the 14th century
The cathedral is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, co-patron saint of Barcelona, a young virgin who, according to Catholic tradition, suffered martyrdom during Roman times in the city.
One story says that she was exposed naked in the public square……….
and a miraculous snowfall in mid-spring covered her nudity.
The enraged Romans put her into a barrel with knives stuck into it and rolled it down a street, according to tradition, the one now called Baixada de Santa Eulàlia, see much more traditional.
The body of Saint Eulalia is entombed in the cathedral’s crypt.
The choir stalls retain the coats-of-arms of the knights of the Order of the Golden Fleece.
Augustine found that his people had also left their mark in the Cathedral…
….but wait, there is more…….more Gaudi…now off to Parccount eusebi Guell
The park was originally part of a commercially unsuccessful housing site, the idea of Count Eusebi Güell, after whom the park was named. It was inspired by the English garden city movement
We did pass this most beautiful entrance to a private home on our walk to the Parc….
Upon our arrival at the Parc, we were once again taken by the carnival atmosphere…the Parc was filled with vendors, street hawkers and panhandlers….and so very, very dirty and littered with garbage….
…..a World Heritage Site……………..REALLY!
……here are some shots from inside….
the view was nice….
Okay off to see more sights….one more Gaudí……
Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera (meaning the ‘The Quarry’)
the building was designed by Antoni Gaudí and built during the years 1906–1912. It is located at 92, Passeig de Gràcia
Standing outside the balconies reminded me of Mardi Gras masks…
The work of Gaudí is too whimsical, too hobbit-like, too gnomish and just a bit too creepy for me…
Some other sights around town…
Then we come upon the Torre Agbar.
According to the designer, the shape of the Torre Agbar was inspired by Montserrat, a mountain near Barcelona,
by the shape of a geyser rising into the air, and by the male genitalia, designed by French architect Jean Nouvel in association with the Spanish firm B720 Arquitectos and built by Dragados.
Jean Nouvel, in an interview, described it as having a phallic character.
As a result of its unusual shape, the building is known by several nicknames, such as “el supositori” (the suppository), “l’obús” (the shell) and some more scatological ones.
It is quite striking at night…
Well we enjoyed our exploration of Barcelona, as we know it holds great memories for many; however, we did not find it enchanting.
…………off to the Train Station and on to France…….
- Dali, Modernisme & Tapas (myspanishcaravan.wordpress.com)
- Things I’ve Learned in Barcelona (carryonchristy.wordpress.com)
- Urban Art in Barcelona: Gaudi’s City (sustainablecitiescollective.com)
- Barcelona, España: Gaudi, Gaudi, Gaudi. (Summer 2007) (exploracora.wordpress.com)
- Going Gaga over Gaudi (sweetphk.com)
- Park Güell: Un parque increíble de Antoni Gaudí (oxbridgeacademicprograms.wordpress.com)
Good post. Lots of information.
I’m like you…very much a traditionalist when it comes to architecture.
Yes, some of the works are just plain ole creepy~
I suppose I had a rather romantic vision of Barcelona and thought it perhaps a must-see for a visit to Spain. The crowds and litter must have been a disappointment for you. Gaudi was a bit to fussy for me also and I saw the masks also. Torre Agbar was simplicity itself though it did come alive at night!
Thanks as always for the tour and history. You always seem to encounter female saints who have been treated badly. Well, at least your next stop was France! Have a good weekend and safe holiday, Tin Man. All ok here.
hahahhaha…….never realized it but yes, I do have a penchant for encountering female saints who have been treated badly!!! We have found everyplace in Spain to be so clean and tidy, with everyone always fussing about to ensure the tidiness….I suppose that is why Barcelona was such a shock. Madrid, so large and busy is pristine……….who knew.
I hope you also have a marvelous weekend, so glad all is well!
Oh, I am sorry, Emil. I can see how this can happen —
But for me, Barcelona is the place where a dear friend grew up, the Parc Guell is where he played as a child, the cathedral square is where he and his friends danced that traditional circle dance holding hands — and so on and so on. My Barcelona, then, is another place entirely. A family place, almost.
And Gaudi — who is definitely a particular taste — suits me to a T! Or a twist, or a curve — Whereas the Torre Agbar is “soft” porn (although it’s plenty hard).
Did you ever hear of Hundertwasser? Artist and architect, also eccentric, colorful, and fanciful. I saw an apartment complex he designed in Vienna, and was struck all of a heap, much like I always am by Gaudi. I love Art Nouveau in general, although it’s definitely not to everyone’s taste.
I think that the summer, with its heat and crowds, might not be the best time to be in Barcelona!
Ah well — off (with you) to France —-
I so appreciate you taking the time to write your perspective on Barcelona, and I realize we are in the minority here. We really did try to like the place. Perhaps it was a matter of timing, etc. I do know that there are places the I simply adore that others have looked at me as if I were losing my mind. It is what makes us interesting and creates marvelous conversation. I love to see things, places and ideas from someone else’s perspective to gather a better understanding of them. Now, let’s go eat some escargot!
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