Back in March 2012, we enjoyed a long weekend in the beautiful city of Barcelona.
We spent a lot of time walking around the streets. Just as well, we needed to work off the tapas and pinxos. Oh, yes, and the paella. Suffice to say the food in Spain is very good!
In the course of our travels we found some striking modern architecture. One of my favourite was The Fish (El Peix, if you prefer the Catalan). It looks out over the beach at La Barceloneta (Little Barcelona), and was created by the Canadian artist Frank Gehry, ahead of the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.
Another unusual looking structure is the Bullring Shopping Centre. The state of Catalonia has banned bull fighting and the main bull ring has been converted into a shopping complex. The top of the building has been capped by what looks like a flying saucer, whilst access to the saucer can be made by way of an external elevator. It has a very sci-fi look about it, indeed you could imagine the Men in Black spending time here!
If you prefer more traditional architecture, the centre of the city is a delight. At every turn you come across buildings that make you stop and stare. One of the most impressive is the extravagantly finished Palau de la Música, the city’s Concert Hall. It was built between 1905 and 1908. The facade is adorned with the busts of composers and numerous statues, such as the “Catalan Song”.
As you explore you also begin to realise what an influence the artist Antoni Gaudí has had on the city. We learnt that his first commision was to design the street lights erected in Placa Reial. He designed the strange Park Güell, and there are many buildings around the city that bear his distinctive style. However the most famous is of course the Sagrada Família.
The exterior is very unusual. George Orwell, in his book Homage to Catalonia, said it was “one of the most hideous buildings in the world. Unlike most of the churches in Barcelona it was not damaged during the revolution, it was spared because of its ‘artistic value,’ people said. I think the Anarchists showed bad taste in not blowing it up when they had the chance.”
Hideous is not a word I would use, but it looked as if it were part of the set for some strange fantasy movie. However, some of the sculptures are stunning. One in particular shows a man tied to a column, a tear running down his cheek. You can see the pain in his face.
The interior is one of the most beautiful man made spaces I have seen. As you enter, it really does take your breath way. You can see the supporting columns are designed to look like trees, with the branches of the “canopy” supporting the roof. And unlike most traditional cathedrals, there is so much light.
Simply stunning. Whilst we had to queue for about 20 minutes to get in, it was absolutely worth it. Take my advise, and if you get the chance, go and see it for yourself!
You can see more of my pictures in the Barcelona set on Flickr.