Friday, October 31, 2008

We're Going on a Gaudi Hunt!

We're going on a Gaudi hunt - are you scared? Antoni Gaudi was a Spanish (Catalan) architect famous for his fantastical, organic-looking buildings and awesome mosaics. His buildings are some of the "must-see's" of Barcelona. (Apologies that this is such a huge post!)

Since many of these buildings required an expensive ticket to get in, we decided to simply focus on the ones we were most interested in.

Casa Mila ('The quarry)
We decided not to go in, based on the ticket price and that the roof (which contains some of the best features) was closed due to the rain. (Spot the line of tourists waiting to get in.)

Here is the cool front door:

Casa Batllo
("Baat-yo", based on a skeleton - can you see the "ribs"?) Casa Batllo is covered in amazing mosaics, like much of Gaudi's work.

Parc Guell
A 20-hectare park designed by Gaudi, it also features two gatehouses which look like gingerbread houses! I love them. They even have lollipop glass windows.

This is the opposite side, taken from the bottom of the steps in front of the gatehouses.

Pavillion - I can't tell where the ground starts or ends, and the buildings begin!

Huge butterfly gate of wrought iron, built by Gaudi.

The inside, right behind the gate in the above photo... I seriously wonder how he built this?

And the outside....

Gaudi designed this marketplace (the white top is the plaza, the bottom with the columns is the covered marketplace).

One of the gargoyles/ drainpipes from the pavilion:

The ceiling of the marketplace is made up of a series of mosaic domes.

This is the dragon "guardian" of the park. Everyone wanted its photo!

Gaudi's apartment in Parc Guell
This pink candy-floss coloured apartment was Gaudi's home,and is now a not-too-informative museum. It features furniture designed by him.

Cute furniture!!

I've saved the best for last: La Sagrada Familia (Atonement Cathedral of the Sacred Family)

This cathedral is has been under construction for the past hundred years, and still has 30-80 years of construction left. It defies belief. Some people love it, some hate it. We're in the first camp. Amazingly, the cost of construction is funded entirely by tourist ticket sales and patrons.

Here is what the cathedral is intended to look like once completed. It's almost like a giant cross in layout, with the nave being the long arm(leg?) of the cross.

Here is the Nave, looking towards the back of the church. It's still under quite a lot of construction. It's still open at the back, and water can come in. In this picture, you can see that Gaudi intended the pillars to be like trees - can you see the branches and leaves/ flowers at the top?

Only a few of the stained glass windows have been installed. This one is the first in the series near the Passion Facade.

Gaudi devoted the last 40 years of his life to the Cathedral's construction. He died in hospital three days after being hit by a tram in Barcelona. For the first few days, no-one recognised him, as his clothes were held together by pins and he was sleeping in the workshop on-site. (He was probably a bit wild and woolly!)

Unfortunately in the 1935 Spanish Civil War, his plans, models and a lot of the cathedral were smashed, so people are still debating about how to solve the complex engineering issues faced in construction. Other sculptors have created new sculptures and artworks in a different style.

The Nativity Facade is the one which most bears Gaudi's influence - it's a riot of animals and people looking at the Christ Child. Stone turtles are carved in the base of the pillars at the front.

If you look carefully, you can see the Christmas tree-like cypress tree in the centre of the towers, with doves on it.

Here is Brendan in front of the Passion Facade, which depicts the last few days before Christ's death and resurrection. You can see the style of the sculptures here is different because they were done by a different sculptor, although the anchoring pillars are Gaudi's.

After waiting in line for an hour and a half, we paid 2.50 Euros for the lift (in addition to the entry ticket), to take us up the 350 stairs inside the towers. From there we wandered around, enjoying the amazing views of Barcelona and the tiny stairs!

The towers are covered in gauze wire at the top to avoid birds nesting in them.

The towers are so narrow, they barely fit one person in! Not for the claustrophobic.

Looking down inside the bottom of the towers. When they're all completed, huge bells will hang in them.

Here is the central dome - an even-larger tower is planned for behind it!

Gaudi used nature as inspiration - here are some mosaic fruits by the Nave.

The views of Barcelona are fantastic!

The little balconies are a bit disconcerting, though.

Here is a secret view of the church, not usually seen by tourists, who are behind the blue barrier on the right.

The coolest part of the stairs is the end, where they wound around in a tight spiral with a gap straight to the bottom. Lots of people got a bit nauseous and wobbly at this part.

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