Here is the Sagrada Familia, by architect Antoni Gaudi. This famous cathedral has sculptures depicting the birth of Jesus on the Nativity facade. It is the icon of Barcelona.
On May 2 John met me at the Barcelona airport; it was great to see him after four months! My hotel was located in the old city in a charming leafy square, near a beautiful old church. Perfect May weather didn't hurt my first impression!
This street near my hotel had a medieval feel(except for the graffiti).
My first sighting of the Mediterranean-beautiful.
I was thrilled to discover that I was a two minute walk from the centuries old Gothic cathedral of Barcelona!
A block away from my hotel was the most famous street in Spain, La Rambla. It is busy and dynamic. There are a lot of street musicians in Barcelona, which added a special beauty and festive atmosphere.
Every week at 6 pm on the weekends musicians gather on the steps in front of the cathedral. The 11 piece band plays stirring music, and the Barcelonians dance the sardona. This national dance of Catalonia, the region of Spain where Barcelona is located, was fascinating to watch.
The dancers place their belongings in the middle of the circle, link hands, and solemnly dance the elaborate footwork of the sardona. I got the impression this has been going on for centuries!
I absolutely loved the cathedral cloister, and spent some time there on Sat afternoon and Sunday morning after Mass, enjoying the peacefulness and beauty.
Gaudi left his mark on the city of Barcelona about a hundred years ago. He was incredibly creative and incorporated inspiration from nature into his designs. The photo above is the drawing room of Casa Batllo, the house Gaudi designed for his wealthy friend.
My favorite part of the house was the atrium, decorated with beautiful blue tiles that catch the light and make you feel like you're under water.
Walking through here must have been refreshing during a hot Barcelona summer day!
The most playful, imaginative part of the house is on the roof. The chimneys are unique, and part of the roof looks like a dragon's back!
Another innovation of Gaudi is the beautiful four sided ceramic cross.
Gaudi 's vision is very engaging and resonates with modern sensibilities. He designed a park overlooking the city that is extremely popular today.
The gatehouses at the front of the park look like fairy tale houses.
This lizard is a fountain with water trickling out of his mouth. Gaudi loved tiles and encouraged the work of artisans to decorate his structures.
Parc Guell is a fun gathering place with incredible views of the city below.
John insisted that we visit the most famous building in Barcelona on a workday. Gaudi spent the last few decades of his life working on the Sagrada Familia, until his death in 1926. Construction continues to this day. The sculpture above is from the Passion facade, completed in the 1980's.
It was really a privilege to see this modern cathedral under construction.
When completed, it will have 18 towers. Today there is the Nativity facade, with 4 towers, completed during Gaudi's lifetime. The Passion facade also has 4 towers. There will be a Resurrrection facade with another 4 towers, one each for the four apostles, one for Mary, and the tallest tower will be for Christ the King.
Although this picture does not do justice to the incredible beauty of the Nativity facade, I was enthralled. There are sculptures that depict Jesus' birth, and his childhood with Mary and Joseph. I was particularly touched by the sculptures of children joyfully looking down at the newborn Jesus.
Gaudi's mother took him for many nature walks during his childhood, and he was incredibly observant. Gaudi said" The great book, always open and which we should make an effort to read,is that of Nature." The pillars of the cathedral resemble trees with knots and branches, and the ceiling is like a canopy of leaves. The natural light and details from nature in a sacred place is very inspiring. We are very indebted to Gaudi for his faith and vision, which inspires visitors from all over the world.The Sagrada Familia is the icon of Barcelona for good reason! I hope I can return when the cathedral is finished.