Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Gaudi, Gaudi, Gaudi - Barcelona, Spain: April 29, 2019

Gaudi Crypt/Church at Colonia Güell
Yesterday was election day in Catalonia and today there is a metro strike. We planned to take the metro to a train line but walked the distance to the train line instead. Colonia Güell is about 7.5 miles out of Barcelona. Mr. Güell commissioned Gaudi to design a church for the village he built around his textile factory. The village was populated by his textile workers.

The church was originally designed to have two naves but somewhere along the line after the ground floor nave/crypt was constructed, the second floor nave was nixed. Gaudi left the job and the church was consecrated in its "as is" condition. The literature states that it was here that Gaudi experimented with and proved many of the techniques used in later commissions.

Four massive rough-hewn, basalt columns support the structure. The moveable pews were also designed by Gaudi.

The Entrance Door Mosaic with symbols of Faith, Hope, and Charity

So many Gaudi buildings and so little time. We did manage to attend a ballet by Ballet de l'Opera de Lyon at the magnificent Liceu Opera House. We also just walked and walked exploring as much of Barcelona as we could.

La Boqueria is a market for the mouth. Iberian Ham is king here but there are also cheeses, seafoods, prepared foods, fresh vegetables and fruits, candies, and restaurant bars for sangria and wine.

Barcelona Bull Arena now a shopping mall 
Catalonia National Museum of Art

Barcelona Basilica
We truly enjoyed our short three days in Barcelona, and look forward to returning again--maybe in 2026.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Gaudi, Gaudi, Gaudi - Barcelona, Spain: April 28, 2019

Palau Güell (built between 1886 and 1890) designed by Gaudi for industrialist Eusebi Güell was our next stop. The sculptures shown here are rooftop chimneys for the many stoves within the palace.

Here are some of details from the palace interior that most caught my eye.

The palace basement included stalls for the family's horses and a couple of unicorn iron rings for tie ups. The palace entrance was large enough so that the horse carriage could pull in and allow family members to climb stone steps to enter the carriage unseen by the public

In the afternoon, we stepped back in time to visit Casa Vincens which was Gaudi's "first house". Gaudi was commissioned by stockbroker named Vincens to design a summer home. The home had residents until 2014. It took a few years to restore it and one year ago it opened as a museum. When originally built the house was surrounded by a large garden and Gaudi designed the interior to bring the outside inside. Now the garden is mostly gone and the house is surrounded by other structures.

"Fan Palm" fencing 
Trompe l'oeil ceiling murals

Not yet finished for the day, we visited Gaudi's Casa Mila (built 1906-1912). At the time, Casa Mila was derogatorily labeled La Pedrera (meaning Stone Quarry). It is indeed an unusual building, and not everyone shared Gaudi's vision. It was commissioned by the Mila family to be both their residence and also as an apartment building. Rich people who couldn't buy their own single family home, rented apartments here. Each apartment had rooms for hired help. Gaudi designed the apartments so that natural light was available in all rooms. He once again pulled his inspiration for form from nature.

Model of La Pedrera

The tour of La Pedrera began with the rooftop terrace populated by roof guardians that look like something out of Star Wars.

The larger shapes allow access to the rooftop from the attic. One of the corner rooftop sculptures has an arch that frames and highlights the distant La Familia Sagrada. The smaller shapes are the roof guardians.

A model and discussion of Gaudi's design and use of the paraboloid shape were on display. First, he sketched out the floor plan on a piece of board and turned the board upside down.  Second, using chains of different lengths, he attached both ends of the chains to the suspended board. Third, he viewed the upside down suspended structure in a mirror.

The tour continued through a typical apartment on the fourth floor with period appropriate furnishings.

More Gaudi tomorrow, our last day.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Gaudi, Gaudi, Gaudi - Barcelona, Spain: April 27, 2019

Just three days before the long Orthodox Easter weekend, we decided to go to Barcelona for the four-day break. We got our flights, a hotel room, and tickets to Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia. I have long wanted to visit Gaudi's creations and Barcelona. They did not disappoint.

Construction on La Sagrada Familia began in 1882 and Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) joined the project as the architect in 1883. Since Gaudi's death, a number of other architects have continued his work and vision for the basilica. The projected completion date is 2026. Photographs do not in any way convey the feeling of actually seeing and walking through this amazing structure, but here are some of my photographs. The breathtakingly lovely interior is called the forest with good reason. The height is immense and the top of the columns branch out to form paraboloid arches to support the roof.

Detail at the Nativity Entrance. The stained glass windows are peaceful blues and greens that paint the basilica's ceiling with softly shaded color.

The interior on the Passion Facade side has stained glass in shades of orange and red.

While the Nativity Facade has vignettes of the life of Christ, the Passion Facade is the crucifixion story. The figures are angular and the columns look like stretched muscles. The decoration is both spare and tense.

With its tall, clear glass windows the interior wall of the Glory Facade is bathed in natural light. This is where grand processions will enter.

Glory Facade Interior and Paraboloid Arches in the Basilica Forest
Replica Doors for the Glory Facade with "Our Father" in Catalan and 50 different languages

Seven years until it's finished. The timing is to coincide with the 100 year anniversary of Gaudi's death. (Note: the aerial photo was a gift from La Sagrada Family)