Thursday’s Special

Winding: a twisting movement or course

synonyms: twist, turn, turning, bend, loop, curve, zigzag, convolution, meander, meandering, looping, serpentine, sinuous, snaking, snaky

Looking down on Nature Square and the undulating bench

Welcome to Park Güell, one of the major works of Gaudí in Barcelona. Access to the Monumental Zone of Park Güell is limited to 400 tickets every half hour. Which seems an awful lot of people on such a short time frame as you are not obliged to exit within half an hour and most likely explains why it is so busy! To avoid having to wait for several hours to enter the Monumental Zone it is best to purchase your timed tickets beforehand.

Eusebi Güell entrusted to Gaudí the plan to create an estate for well off families in a large property that Güell had purchased in the zone known as ‘bare mountain’, a location with magnificent views over the plain and the ocean.

Monumental Flight of Steps. Framed by two convex walls with merlons (crenellated parapet).

Only one sixth of the plot could be built on for residential use only. And in the beginning work progressed well, but the difficulty of transport to the plot made it nonviable and in 1914 Güell decided to stop the project.

Upon the death of Güell the estate was offered to the Barcelona City Council who opened it as a public park in 1926. The UNESCO declared it a Cultural Heritage of Humanity site in 1984.

Hypostyle Room – the ceiling is formed of small domes in the Catalan vault technique. It was conceived as a covered space that could serve as a market for the estate.
Portico of the Washerwoman

I think you might agree with me that this site definitely complies with pretty much all the meanings of winding.

Thursday’s Special: Traces of the Past

From the not too distant past this masterpiece, designed by Antoni Gaudí, attracts a lot of attention.

Formerly an apartment block, (who wouldn’t want to live there?) now a museum, it is rather expensive to visit and another place you might want to book online beforehand to avoid the queues.

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Casa Batlló is located at 43 Passeig de Gràcia, in easy walking distance of Plaça de Catalunya. There are two other modernistic buildings in this block which are equally impressive, though perhaps not as eccentric as this one.

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Construction started in 1877 and is a remodel of a former house. Also known as the house with the dragon roof, or even ‘house of bones’ the facade is covered in colourful tiles.

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One of the strangest residential buildings in Europe, this is Gaudí at his hallucinatory best. The facade, sprinkled with bits of blue, mauve and green tiles and studded with wave-shaped window frames and balconies, rises to an uneven blue-tiled roof with a solitary tower.

Lonely Planet

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Please hop over to Paula for more Traces of the Past.

An unfinished temple

I’m taking a short break from the UK trip and English cathedrals and going back to October and my first visit to Barcelona where I continue in the cultural vein. First the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família which probably needs no introduction to most of you. Famous as Antoni Gaudi’s last and greatest masterpiece, it is hoped that it will finally be finished in 2026 to mark the centenary of his death. Maybe, with a bit of luck, I will be able to visit it again then.

“My client is not in a hurry…”

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View from Avenue de Gaudi

The Sagrada Familia is an international centre for spirituality which, in an exceptional setting, invites people of all backgrounds and faiths to share in a sense of life based on love, harmony, good, generosity and peace.

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Passion façade

Before going in to the building we took a wander around the outside. Although there is a lot of construction going on and cranes, scaffolding etc. in the way, it is possible to see a lot of the recent work.

The sculptures on the Passion façade (Western side) are very different to those on the Nativity side. It is austere, plain and simple, with ample bare stone, and is carved with harsh straight lines to resemble the bones of a skeleton. Although I’m not keen on the sculptures, they do convey the feeling of despair and deep suffering. The building itself is supposed to represent ribs and muscles.

Please consult Wikipedia for more information about the façades

In contrast the Nativity façade is much more decorative and characteristic of Gaudi’s naturalistic style. It faces the rising sun to the north-east to represent the birth of Christ and divided into three porticos – Faith, Hope and Charity – and a tree of life.

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The tree of life

“It is probably impossible to find a church building anything like it in the entire history of art”
~ art critic Rainer Zerbst

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The scene of the birth of Jesus with musicians and singers

“The most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages.”
~ Paul Goldberger

You could spend an awfully long time looking at the stories and all the little details on the façades and one of my favourite parts was actually the doors – about which I will create a separate post.

If you are going to visit the Sagrada Familia then I would recommend that you buy your timed tickets online before you go to avoid the long queues, and also choose the audio tour. This gives you so much information about what it is you are seeing and you can do the tour in your own time and route. I would imagine trying to hear a tour guide in among all the crowds must be pretty difficult.

Next will be the interior which is like no other interior of a church ever seen.