I’m back with another One Year Ago Today to keep working on this series.
A year ago, I had a fantastic week seeing some of my very favorite architectural landmarks in the world and then having some weekend fun.
I had the opportunity to take a fantastic class from my study center in Barcelona called Gaudí and His Contemporaries. This was the week where we started tours of some of Gaudi’s* greatest works. My professor was an endless source for knowledge on Gaudi and modernisme (which roughly translates to Art Nouveau in English) in general; I could’ve listened to her teach for hours on each structure. This week in particular one year ago, we visited La Sagrada Familia on Tuesday and Park Güell on Thursday. No big deal, right?
*Note that I’m adopting the English spelling of Gaudí for the rest of this post, but I do know that his name really does have an accent. Trying to subdue my inner grammar nazi here.
I can’t accurately put into words what I feel when I saw La Sagrada Familia up close for the first time. Just, wow. As an art lover, a Gaudi lover and a history lover, this is an amalgamation of ideas and textures like no other. And bringing in the faith aspect is just… mind-blowing. Knowing the history behind it is just part of the story, but seeing it in person just made everything click in my head. When you see the Nativity façade (pictured above) in person, you start to understand why the church has taken over 130 years to get to this point. Gaudi oversaw the design of this façade himself and left the details of the other two (the Passion and the Glory façades) for two more designers to take over after his death. He knew it would take a long time to complete the church.
You can see more of the views from the inside in the Flickr set at the bottom of this post, but this is what really makes everything so real. I tried not to have my mouth hang open the entire time I was looking around inside.
We also spent a lot of time talking about the various design aspects of the church and looking at models. Above, you can see that everything in white has yet to be build. Yes, La Sagrada Familia is going to be even taller once they add on the spires – the tallest representing Jesus Christ, another representing Virgin Mary, four representing the four evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and then four more as part of the Glory façade to represent the final four of the twelve apostles. Every detail was thought of an hold deep symbolism to the overall design and to the church.
We also went to see Gaudí’s crypt and architecture studio below the church. These aren’t original models; the original ones were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War by anarchists. La Sagrada Familia already has a past filled with controversy and challenges, but today it still stands as a symbol of the pride of Barcelona and the passion of Gaudi himself. If you every get a chance to go see this church in person, DO IT. It’s unbelievable. I definitely plan on going back after it’s completion (around 2026) to see it again.
The other amazing place I had the chance to visit (in the same freaking week!) was Park Güell. This project is, by some standards (and was to Gaudi) considered a failure. It was meant to be just one piece to an incredibly well-designed gated community where all the inhabitants would live amongst fantastic design and have all resources – like a full market – at their fingertips. Well, that didn’t exactly work out. What Gaudi built for Güell, his primary client, still remains today as proof of Gaudi’s genius and eye for beauty.
Trencadis, a type of mosaic incorporated often into Gaudi’s work, is one of my favorite parts of the park. It decorates many of the surfaces of the park and was the specialty of Jujol, another architect that regularly worked with Gaudi on projects. (I did a research report on Jujol, so if you ever need someone to spout off a whole bunch of random facts about him, I’m your girl. Ha!) These particular compositions here decorate the ceiling under the main plaza. Some of them incorporate parts of porcelain dolls and other found objects. Jujol was known for pulling things out of dumpsters and even having the workers go in search of chipped or broken plates to use in his work.
Everything in this park is absolutely beautiful. It’s my favorite place in all of Barcelona… and that’s out of a lot of really beautiful and awesome places.
The view from the plaza is amazing. You can see pretty much the whole city from here, just because it’s built into the elevation of one of the mountains behind the city.
This one of my particularly favorite parts of the bench around the plaza. Again, I LOVE trencadis.
Another one of my favorite photos from the park – a view around the corner of Gaudi’s house.
And then, that night, I dropped my iPad on my bed. It bounced off and onto the floor and shattered. And then I cried.
So, the next day, I went to the Apple store at La Maquinista to see what I could do (aka spend like $300 on a replacement one**) and do a little shopping. And by little, I mean big… this mall is the biggest one in Barcelona. It was pretty awesome.
**and now, I always have my Gumdrop case on my ipad at all times. It withstands anything. Namely, me. I was so impressed with the case that I use one for my phone, too.
On the way home from the mall, I took a few pictures that I’m so glad to have. Pictures from right by where I lived in Fort Pienc.
This was the futbol field I walked past every time I went to the metro. Different teams would be on the field every night, and sometimes the stands would be filled with parents and friends of the players. A lot of times, people walking their dogs would stop by the fence across the bridge leading to my apartment and watch the games – even cheering for one of the teams on a whim. It was a great example of how awesome and important soccer is to everyday life in Barcelona.
The next night, I went out with the girls from the residencia (my dorm-ish building) to the old part of the city for dinner and some drinks. On our way to dinner, we saw a fantastic display of graphic awesomeness as part of one of the city’s celebrations (I’ve googled and googled to no end but can’t find what it was for… but I did find a video of the graphics in action here.)
Then we had some delicious Latin American food and drinks and met an incredibly nice British couple who wanted to adopt all of us (it was weird but kind of awesome). I liked the straws a lot. Remind me to do this when I own a restaurant. On our way back, we stopped at this really strange restaurant that was playing Back to the Future projected on the wall and ate dessert (Inercia). It was… well, an experience. Ha!
As usual, you can see all of my favorite pictures from this week below or over on Flickr. Enjoy, and feel free to ask about something if you’re wondering what it is!
And now I’m going to go crash onto something. It’s been a weekend of a massive headache with so little productivity, but I’m happy to report that I’m feeling almost all the way better now after some rest and some time with friends (and Star Wars… YES!). This week promises to be a fun one – a big project do but only one class to go to, Valentine’s day and Jake’s birthday on Friday… oh boy! Stay tuned for more crafty madness. ;)