Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Gaudí's Barcelona

Pic of Porter's Lodge from inside Park Güell

Is it possible to visit Barcelona and not wish to stay longer? I have long wished to return. My recent visit for the ELIA Together Translation Conference provided the perfect opportunity to see more. Park Güell and the Sagrada Família by Antoni Gaudí, Barcelona’s famous architect, were top of my list. I also wanted to find out more about Barcelona as a popular smart city. And try out my recently acquired Spanish...

Park Güell
On the Saturday morning I knew that I been right to extend my stay. I sat relaxing on a bench in warm Catalan sunshine in Gaudí’s Park Güell. The temperature hit 23°C that afternoon. T-shirt weather in February. I even had live Spanish guitar music nearby.

Park Güell: view in sunshine over Barcelona

Gaudí’s Park Güell was the result of an extraordinary patronage and friendship between the architect and Eusebi Güell. It was originally intended to be a British-style residential estate. That plan did not work out. Park Güell gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 1984. Seven of  Gaudí’s works now have this status. 

Inside the Porter's Lodge (see top photo), it was possible to see the historical pictures of the park's development and its two influential men. Construction started back in 1900.

Today, Park Güell provides Barcelona with a fabulous public space overlooking the city. Gaudí’s architecture has a dream-like quality. It combines a number of influences from the classical to modern. The end result is an eclectic mix and uniquely creative at the same time.

Basílica de la Sagrada Família
On the Sunday we went to see Gaudí’s most famous work, the Sagrada Família. Gaudí never lived to see it finished. In fact, work is still ongoing. The completion date seems to vary according to the source. 

It was interesting to see how more work had been done since my previous visit. Last time much of the inside was obscured by scaffolding. This time I could marvel at the coloured light streaming through the windows.

With Gaudí, everywhere you look you see amazing detail. For example, below is a photo of the statues above the entrance. The opposite side has statues in a completely different style. They are very angular. Modernist in style.

Pic of statues on front of Gaudí's Sagrada Família
Details above the entrance to Sagrada Família

As you walk around, you find yourself constantly looking up to the Heavens. Gaudí was a very religious man. He devoted the final years of his life to his expiatory church and even lived on site.

Pic looking up at the detail of the roof inside Sagrada Família
Looking up at the ceiling of the Sagrada Família's nave

My few Spanish words came in handy. Knowing how to pronounce Spanish words correctly was a big improvement on my first visit. I didn't understand the Spanish and Catalan spoken around me at speed. It's frustrating for a linguist to go back to beginner's level. I bought a children's book about Gaudí in the Park Güell shop. It is the perfect inspiration to keep going.

I hope to return to see the Sagrada Família finished one day in all the glory that Gaudí intended.

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