Two weekends ago I was in Barcelona. I’ve already told you about the colors and the food. But I’ve saved arguably the best for last, for no tale of Barcelona would be complete without a mention of Antoni Gaudí. One of the most famous Catalans of all time, Gaudí was a Spanish Catalan architect who lived during the Modernisme/Art Nouveau period of the late 20th century. But Gaudí’s fame extends far beyond the art of his period. Instead, he is famed for his crazy, different, unique, and individual designs.
During my two days in Barcelona, I was able to see 4 of his works.
The first one, Parc Güell, I’ve mentioned briefly in a previous post. Parc Güell is a garden complex situated on the hill of el Carmel in Barcelona city that features Gaudi’s architectural designs. In designing the park, Gaudi tried to keep in mind peace and calm.
Here’s a refresher image.
The truth is I didn’t really care about the haze or the park itself. What I noticed most about this park wasn’t the cloudiness. It wasn’t the architecture, nor was it the two gingerbread houses that line the entrance to the park. It was the tiles. Lovely, beautiful tiles lining the walkways and along the staircase railings.
We then headed to the Basilica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, or the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family. Well, let’s just call it the Sagrada Família. Work started on this church in 1882. Gaudi became responsible for the design 1883 when the original architect retired and combined Gothic and Art Nouveau ideas into this massive and intriguing church.
Sadly, Gaudi passed away due to a tramway accident in June 1926. This is actually a really sad story; Gaudi was actually hit and run over by a tram. Unfortuantely Gaudi was attired in rags and had no money on him. No one would help him because they didn’t think he would be able to pay for a cab. He was eventually taken to a pauper’s hospital where his friends found him the next day. When they asked to move him to a better hospital, Gaudi refused saying that he belonged among the poor. He died 3 days later and is interred in the Sagrada Familia.
This Roman Catholic church is actually still unfinished today, despite Pope Benedict XVI’s consecration of the church in November 2010. When do you think the Sagrada Familia will be finished? The official planners says that the construction won’t finish until 2026 (what?!), which is the centennial of Gaudi’s death. But I think the official estimate is 2017. We shall see. It’ll be a reason to return to Barcelona.
The next day, we headed to the Passeig de Gràcia, a boulevard/promenade that is home to two famous Gaudi dwellings. The first was the Casa Batlló, fondly referred to as the Casa dels ossos (house of bones). This building was actually restored by Gaudí and another guy named Josep Maria Jujol. Why do the locals call it the house of bones?
Because there are skulls hanging out of the windows, obviously!
Finally, we stopped by the Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera (Catalan for ‘The Quarry’). It was built for the married couple of Rosario Segimon and Pere Milà. This building is further up the Passeig de Gràcia. Fun fact: Gaudi wanted the people who lived in all the apartments to know each other so he only put in elevators on every other floor!
So what do you think of Gaudí? Pure genius or simply crazy?