Sunday, August 19, 2007

Artists and Architects

Much of what we saw in Barcelona was closely tied to either a famous artist or a famous architect. We visited a museum on Picasso, for instance, that had much of his early work. Almost every street you walked down had interesting architecture, but the Modernisme definitely provided the most interesting pieces.

As Wikipedia describes it, "The modernisme movement was centred on the city of Barcelona, and its best-known exponent was the architect Antoni Gaudí." For once, Wikipedia hits the nail right on the head with the first swing. Gaudi was both an interesting character as well as an interesting architect. It would appear that he loathed straight lines. We were lucky enough to have the time to visit two of his creations. One of which was of course Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, or La Sagrada Familia as it's usually referred to.

La Sagrada Familia is a large Catholic basilica, as one with any inkling of Spanish might suspect. It was begun in 1882 and is still under construction. One side of the facade was designed and created by Gaudi (2nd picture), whereas the other side was designed by his successors (1st picture). During the Spanish Civil War both parts of the building and parts of Gaudi's plans were destroyed, but it is still beautiful. Although there are currently 8 towers, Gaudi designed it with 18.

As you can see in the photo, Gaudi's side is much more intricate. I really love this type of design, and am really impressed with how much detail is there despite the size. This is the type of man-made artifact that I could look at for a long time and not be bored. Especially with a high powered camera lens.

The inside is also quite intricate. A lot of construction is still occurring inside, but some of the stained glass windows are already completed. Just imagine what the inside would look like if every window had the colored glass seen in the photo (these windows repeat throughout the large room). Even the ceiling has a sparkling gold design, although in the picture above it has not yet been put on the star-like patterns.

Further North is Parc Guell, another Modernisme design. There are gardens and buildings, including an open area where many kids were playing soccer (ok, "futbol"). We visited right after seeing La Sagrada Familia, and noticed Gaudi's mark immediately.

Of course, he did more than design cathedrals and build parks before being hit by a streetcar in 1926. Unfortunately, we only had but so much time to explore his work. I do recommend seeing both of these sites if you find yourself in Barcelona, even if you don't think you appreciate architecture. Maybe by the time you make it there another tower or two will be up at La Sagrada Familia.

And please don't forget: all images are copyright to the photographer, and if you want to use it you should ask first and cite.

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