Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Gorgeous Grand Gaudi
I have so many photos to share that I took during my recent visit to Barcelona. I haven't even started to edit them yet due to an extensive Spring cleaning project but thought I would share a few with you now.
A visit to Barcelona would not be complete without a visit to one of the most easily recognisable buildings in Europe, the Sagrada Familia. We arrived there early in the morning to find an already sizable queue snaking it's way around the outside of the church, so we decided to walk around outside and return later to go inside. Either side of the Sagrada Familia are two park areas where people sat and took in the sun and the surroundings while some of the locals played Boule under the pink blossom. The first photo was taken from one of these parks. We wandered around, taking in the souvenir stalls and taking photos before heading off elsewhere to return later that day.
When we returned in the evening we were pleased to find that the queue had all but disappeared and so we went inside. I was immediately stuck by two things: the sheer size of the space inside and the amount of scaffolding that filled it! Sagrada Familia has been under construction since 1882 and is probably Gaudi's best known work. Guadi is synonymous with Barcelona and his architecture is unique, being largely inspired by the organic forms found in nature and influenced by Gothic architecture.
Gaudi devoted much of his life to the design and construction of the church until his death in 1926 and only lived to see four of the twelve bell towers on the facade built. Currently, eight of the towers, dedicated to the Apostles, have been built and at 100 metres high they are quite imposing to behold. In addition to these are four belfries awaiting construction which are the Facade of the Glory, a 170 meter central dome dedicated to Christ, the tower of the Virgin Mary (125m) and the tower of the four Evangelists.
Once inside, despite the scaffolding, it was easy to see that the impressive vaults of the main nave were finished, with impressive tall columns which reminded me a little of octopus suckers.
As it was early evening, the sun cast wonderful patterns inside, echoing the shapes of the windows, and it also shone through two stunning stained glass windows, which my photo has not done justice to. It was quite cool and dark inside however, as we queued for the tiny elevator which would take us to the very top of the towers.
The view from the top was nothing short of magnificent! The day was sunny and clear and all of Barcelona lay spread out below me, with the sea on one side and hills on the other. The photo below shows the Agbar Tower which is the third tallest building in Barcelona, standing at 142 meters and stands at the intersection of three major thoroughfares, one of which is the Avenue Diagonal on which our hotel stood.
The photo below shows the Avenue Gaudi stretching off into the distance, flanked by typical buildings in the city.
The photo below looks down on the Placa de Gaudi which is where the beautiful blossom trees were in our morning visit. You can just make them out on the right of the photo.
From the top we could clearly see much of the construction work that was being done as we looked across the nave to the other towers on the opposite facade.
We opted to walk back down the spiral stairs and every now and then there were unglazed openings through which we could peek and see wonderful details like the mosaic effect of the tiles that covered the finials and other architectural details, and are typical of Gaudi. It was a long walk back down increasingly narrow and dark stairs that were open on one side. It felt very claustrophobic and I was alarmed to find my hands sweating and my mouth dry and my breathing turned more to a shallow panting. Claustrophobia runs in my family but I have never experienced it before! I managed to keep my panic under control but have never been so glad to reach the bottom and come back out into the sunshine.
Afterwards, we spent far too much in the souvenir shop and then headed back to the hotel with aching feet before heading out to find somewhere to eat. If you visit Barcelona, then make sure you visit this iconic piece of architecture, even if you choose not to go inside the walk around the outside is a very pleasant way to spend and hour or so and will reward with with a magnificent view of Gaudi's masterpiece.
I will be posting more of my Barcelona photos soon, including pics of La Padrera, Barcelona Zoo, Port Vell and Las Ramblas.