Tag Archives: Barcelona

Barcelona – Spain

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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.

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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.

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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.

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 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…

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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

europe2 130The 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.

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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.

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The choir stalls retain the coats-of-arms of the knights of the Order of the Golden Fleece.

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Augustine found that his people had also left their mark in the Cathedral…

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….but wait, there is more…….more Gaudi…now off to Parccount eusebi Guell

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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….

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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….

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the view was nice….

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Okay off to see more sights….one more Gaudí……

Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera  (meaning the ‘The Quarry’)

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 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…

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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.

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It is quite striking at night…

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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…….

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Zaragoza – Spain

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The noble beginnings of Zaragoza begin when  Augustus founded there a city called Caesaraugusta to settle army veterans from the Cantabrian wars

The foundation date of Caesaraugusta has not been set with total precision,

though it is known to lie between 25 BC and 12 BC

The city did not suffer any decline during the last centuries of the Roman empire and was captured peacefully by the Goths in the 5th century

In 714 the Berbers and Arabs took control of the city, renaming it Saraqusta (سرقسطة).

 It later became part of the Emirate of Cordoba

It grew to become the biggest Muslim controlled city of Northern Spain and as the main city of the Emirate’s Upper March, Zaragoza was a hotbed of political intrigue

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In 777 Charlemagne was invited by Husayn, the Wali (governor) of Zaragoza, to take the submission of the city

But when Charlemagne marched an army to the city gates he found Husayn to have had a change of heart and was forced to give up after a month-long siege of the city, facing Basque attacks on his rear guard on his withdrawal.

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From 1018 to 1118 Zaragoza was one of the taifa kingdoms, independent Muslim states which emerged in the eleventh century following the destruction of the Cordoban Caliphate.

Zaragoza is linked by legend to the beginnings of Christianity in Spain. According to legend, the Virgin Mary appeared miraculously to Saint James the Great in the first century, standing on a pillar.

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The Church contains innumerable beautiful works of art….

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This legend is commemorated by a famous Catholic basilica called Nuestra Señora del Pilar (Our Lady of the Pillar)

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The city walls, churches, basilicas, palaces, stately houses and squares of the old quarter reflect the different civilizations that settled the city.

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Romans, Moors, Jews and Christians left their cultural legacy behind, waiting to be admired to this day. There are certain monuments and places that are simply not to be missed.

You can start the day in Plaza del Pilar Square, alongside the Ebro River. Here you will find three of the city’s emblematic buildings: The Pilar Basilica, church and universal symbol of Zaragoza; La Lonja Palace, the region of Aragon‘s most important 16th century civil building, venue for many exhibitions throughout the year; San Salvador Cathedral (the “Seo”),  Aragon’s most valuable and significant monument, where you will find medieval artistic styles reflected, along with Renaissance and Baroque elements. Be sure to look at the exterior wall of the Parroquieta Chapel, on one side of the Seo – it is the pinnacle of Zaragoza Mudejar architecture.

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Then, head for the Caesaraugusta Theatre Museum, just a few minutes walk away. See what the Roman city’s most popular monument was like.

Marvelous restoration, protected by in ingenious dome…

…one can only imagine the marvelous theatrical performances played out on the stage……if you are very quite you can almost hear the echoes…

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There are many witnesses to Zaragoza’s imperial past to be seen – the city walls, the Forum, the River Port and the Public Baths, with their respective museums.

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Wonderful, near the Roman Wall is a Public Market…

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What a fantastic find……..the Market is brimming with goodies……

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Then off to lunch at Los Cabezudos Restaurant for al fresco dining….to include Caracoles del Mar

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Puente de Piedra ( Stone Bridge) – Bridge across the river Ebro

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Puente de Piedra is also called the Bridge of Lions because four lions (symbols of the city) are placed on the pillars at both sides of the bridge.

After touring, the best way to end a stay in Zaragoza is to visit its Plaza del Pilar in the evening as the spires of the city’s two cathedrals make dramatic shadows across the pavement.

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In this place where the Romans once walked and where countless pilgrims have journeyed, the warm spirit of Zaragoza shines most brightly.  As it has for many centuries, this city continues to invite visitors to enjoy its charms.

But now it is time for dinner…….a cool evening……beautiful fountains….

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We found the perfect place to dine….Casa Teo

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Marvelous to be traveling Europe during Asparagus Season…..

Then off to the hotel with incredible views of the city….

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Zaragoza has an incredible Train Station, where we plan the next stop in our adventure……

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Vacation Advice

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Well the Tin Man has been sitting still much too long and it is time to start planning the next trip.

I have decided that it is time to enlist the advice and thoughts of all you wonderful, wonderful, people I have met in the blogging world.

I am going to list our itinerary as it currently stands and ask if you would, please, give me any and all input you have of the cities listed and any wonderful sights that are a MUST SEE

Please include restaurants, as you know that I love to blog about food!

I so appreciate your input!

Lisbon, Portugal

Barcelona, Spain

Marseille, France

Nice – Monaco

Pisa, Italy

Grosetto, Italy

Naples, Italy

Villa San Giovanne, Italy

Marsala, Sicily

Valletta, Malta

Messina, Sicily

Brindisi, Italy

Patras, Greece

Athens, Greece

Frankfurt, Germany

If I have missed any places that you would suggest, please let me know.
The route was planned using the EuroRail routes and therefore is very flexible

The only absolutes are:  Portugal, Sicily, Malta………and of course Frankfurt…there is no way I could be in Europe and not set foot in the Father Land!
I so appreciate your input!!!!