Monday, June 1, 2009

Beautiful Barcelona

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.


John Pierce said...

Nice trip summary Mom, I'm glad you enjoyed Barcelona as much as you did.
It was a blast showing you around!!!

Catherine Berg said...

Beautiful photos, Mom! I am so happy that you and John had that experience together. We love you!

Anonymous said...

So gorgeous Lorrie!!! What great pictures and you sound like a tour guide in your description! i really appreciated your insight and explanations!!!!

Jacks3607 said...

will you be my tour guide? Now I want to go!

The Schultz Family said...

Lorrie, these pictures brought back such great memories from Mark's and Annie's and Catherine's and my trip ten years ago. We went to almost all these places and had similar reactions. What a fabulous city. La Rambla is so much fun! And Gaudi's work gives the city such a playful air. One of my favorite things was the Nativity facade at Sagrada Familia, and just like you, I loved the sculptures of the little children beaming down on the baby Jesus. (Wouldn't it be great to buy a Gaudi inspired Nativity set?) Anyway, SO glad you got to go and see that beautiful city, and SO glad John got the privilege of being there all semester. Love you all!

teresa anthony said...

Wow Lorrie, I love your blogs. I haven't been on in a long time, but I started with Barcelona (your pictures and comments made me want to visit Spain, I country I don't think I've ever thought of visiting before), went on to Lydia in the mud - that was fantastic, LOVED all the grandchildren together at your house, on the gator, and at Longwood - you two should be nominated for grandparents of the Year award! Then you had beautiful pictures of Catherine, and I was inspired, as always by you Fred, with your Fighting Back award ceremony. And I rounded out my time with Easter with the Brown's - oh my goodness, those kids are so cute. Between the Easter Egg Hunt, what looks like a pink faux fur coat on Monica (adorable!), and the Big Wheel Racing, you looked like you had a true celebration of life and joy on Easter!

So thanks for all of the blogs. I'll try to be better about checking more regularly. These family blogs are such a wonderful way to stay connected.

Love you, Teresa