Gaudi, Wow.

Looking up to the ceiling of La Sagrada Familia

The reason for our trip to Europe started with seeing Drive-by Truckers in Berlin, as anyone who has talked to us this year knows. Aside from Berlin, I toyed with a lot of ideas for adding on to the trip. Barcelona may have seemed like an odd transition, but Jim had never been to the city, and it has been 40 years since I visited, so I thought – why not now – we don’t know when we’ll be back in Europe.

That decision made, Antonin Gaudi became the focus of the Barcelona portion of the trip. His unfinished masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia, made a huge impression on me when I saw it for the first time as a college student. I wanted to see it again, and a lot more construction has taken place in 40 years, but it is still not finished. I also wanted to see some of his other work.

On Thursday morning we headed to Park Guell. Named for and commissioned by Gaudi’s main patron, Count Eusebi Guell, the park was originally intended as a gated residential community. Essentially, the concept didn’t fly, and the area was turned over to the city as a public park. And what a park it is.

The main entrance is flanked by two ‘gingerbread’ houses.
One of the gingerbread houses

There is a fee to enter this ‘monumental’ area that contains Gaudi’s work, but the rest of the park is free. We arrived at about 9:45 am and had a nice visit before it got crowded. It was teeming with visitors when we left at about 11:30 am.

Jim did a great job photographing the park, and there are way too many photos to choose from, but below is a small selection.

This was the ‘model home.’ Gaudi lived here for a while, before he took up full time residence at his workshop in La Sagrada Familia.

Since we’ve been better at ‘slow traveling’ in Barcelona, we took a break between Park Guell and the star of the show – La Sagrada Familia. We had already seen the outside with a guided tour and had already experienced the ‘wow’ factor of the exterior.

A wide-angle view of the one facade, the Nativity Tower, that was completed during Gaudi’s lifetime.
A closer look at a portion of the Nativity Tower. This part depicts the “Slaughter of the Innocents” by Roman soldiers.
This photo shows some of the ornamental mosaics at the top of the towers.
The newer facade of the Passion Tower has a starkly different look than the earlier Nativity Tower. The Roman soldiers look like Star Wars’ storm troopers. We’re told George Lucas was a Gaudi fan.

Once inside, the ‘wow factor’ struck again with the monumentality of the structure, as well as it’s use of light, which was a big thing for Gaudi. Unlike many Catholic Churches, which are often dark and ‘heavy,’ this place creates a mood of hope and happiness, at least it did for me.

Natural light was important to Gaudi’s vision. The color reflects the stained glass.
Gaudi used local people as models for all the sculptures. Our guide says that’s why Jesus’ knees are bent on this version of the crucifixion.

Maybe we’ll come back for Jim’s 80th and see more completed!

One comment

  1. too overwhelming to comment on any one of these photos
    you and Jim are very fortunate to be there to see all of this


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