Written May 20, 2012
My first memories of Spain, well, really Europe, or you could even say of international travel, were of Gaudí’s Barcelona back in 1991, when I got my first passport stamp at the Barcelona airport. His crazy shapes and colors brightened up my confused jetlagged state and turned what was an otherwise awkward week of not knowing what to do with myself into joyful memories of gawking through the spires of Sagrada Família and sauntering under the arches in Park Güell. Needless to say, when I have the chance to return to Barcelona I return to those same playful structures that made me smile on that first visit.
And so, on our recent visit to Barcelona and Don’s first to this somewhat under-appreciated city. I was bent on seeing everything I could Gaudí. Unfortunately, this was also Ascension Day weekend, a national holiday in France, and therefore half the country followed us over the border and into the queues of all the major sites. Never have I heard so much French spoken outside of France! For those planning a visit I strongly advise purchasing advance tickets!
And for some quick background information, Antoni Gaudí was a late 19th early 20th century architect with a distinctive style. While he was greatly inspired by the forms he found in nature, the resulting structures are other-worldly, transcending both time and any particular aesthetic. His most famous work is the still unfinished basilica in central Barcelona, Sagrada Familia, which was only about 20 percent complete at the time of his death in 1926.
Park Güell, originally buitl in the early 20th century as the outdoor space of a housing development that never materialized, it is now a popular municipal garden.
Casa Milà, or La Pedrera, apartment building with a fascinating undulating roof and posh early 20th century interior.
Casa Batlló, with it’s under the sea colors and wavy forms is probably his most playful structure built for private use.
Palau Güell, a private residence constructed for the incredibly rich Eusibi, is a stunning display of what money can buy. Interestingly the structure, which was built just before the turn of the century and was one of Gaudí’s earliest major commissions, deviates from his generally playful style with more rigid lines.