Thursday, December 13, 2012

Barcelona: Giddy for Gaudi

Unconventional and interestingly peculiar Barcelona is about 4 hours (fast) train ride from Madrid. As you explore the streets of the Catalan capital you will be treated to a visual feast of architectural marvels.From buildings with wave like facades giving an illusion of having no straight lines, adornments of wrought iron in different shapes and sizes, mosaics carefully assembled to create a colorful image and a church with intricate details that it is still under construction for about a hundred years now.

Barcelona, is a living and breathing tribute to its famous son - Antoni Gaudi. Leaf through any Barcelona guidebook and the name Antoni Gaudi will be mentioned being the architect that is responsible in designing several places of interest in Barcelona.Uncover Barcelona through the Modernisme architecture of Antoni Gaudi.

Parc Guell
A park on the hill of El Carmel commissioned by Eusebi Guell .The entrance is flanked by two whimsical houses painted in brown, with odd-shaped roofs and colorful mosaic adornments that it can almost pass as the witch's gingerbread house in the story of Hansel and Gretel.The focal area of the park is the grand staircase right smack in front of the entrance with the lizard/dragon made in colorful mosaic tiles in the middle dividing the staircase into two lanes. The staircase leads to a covered area with grooved columns that resembles a tree trunk. The roof of which serves as a huge terrace surrounded by a serpent like bench that is decorated with a kaleidescope of tiles.

Parc Guell - Grand Staircase

Admission Price: Free (no admission price as of Oct 2012 but there is a rumor that they might be charging an entrance fee in the future)
How to get here: Take the metro to Lesseps. Once you alight in the metro stop (Lesseps) follow the direction signs leading to Parc Guell or follow the tourists. It will be around 10-15 minute walk with an uphill climb to the road leading to the park. 
Souvenirs: There are a lot of souvenir shops on the street leading to the park. Recommended buys are the mosaic tile decorations, reproductions or prints, colorful wind chimes.

La Pedrera (Casa Mila)
A house designed by Antoni Gaudi for a husband and wife, Roger Segimon and Pere Mila. Among the many uniqure features of the house is the wave like facade,wrought iron decors used in the balconies and the lavish rooftop with sci-fi looking chimneys and ventilation vents.
Casa Mila (La Pedrera)
Admission Price:16.50 EUR
How to get here: Take the metro to Diagonal,a few minutes walk from metro stop

Casa Batllo
If Palau Guell is a house for the aristocratic Guell family, Casa Batllo on the other hand is a house designed for a middle class man.Though not as opulent as Palau Guell, Casa Batllo is still a prime example of the Modernisme architecture heralded by Gaudi. Casa Batllo's striking feature is the eerie looking facade that resembles numerous skulls and bones and when you happen to pass by at night notice the distinct metallic sheen on the facade especially when they are having the light show.
Palau Guell at night

Admission Price:  20.35 (eticket - skip the line)
How to get here: Take the metro to Passeig de Gracia, a few minutes walk from metro stop

Palau Guell
The opulent house of Eusebi Guell who is the rich patron of Antoni Gaudi.This house is designed by Gaudi to serve as a house of a rich family from the vast and numerous rooms to the weirdly fascinating chimneys.Each rooms are designed in an over the top manner from large chandeliers, stained glass windows, intricate carvings and the hyperbolic windows and roofs which is a signature Gaudi design. The adornments does not serve an aesthetic purpose only but in fact are ingenious designs that have practical purposes. The hyperbolic windows are created in such a way to let in natural light into the house.The wrought iron in the main door makes the person inside the house see the streets but not the other way around. 

Admission Price: 10 EUR with Audio guide
How to get here:  Take the metro to Liceu, walk and follow the signage to Palau Guell

Sagrada Familia
The most celebrated work yet an unfinished one of Antoni Gaudi. The Sagrada Familia is in fact a work in progress up to this time since it began its construction in 1882. There are three facades or entrances (Nativity, Passion and Glory) of which only the Nativity facade is the actual work by Gaudi while the Passion facade is based on plans left by Gaudi. The facades of this church are highly intricate from gothic inspired spires to detailed sculptures which portrays the birth (Nativity) and death of Christ (Passion). 

Inside the church is indeed a masterpiece of Gaudi taking inspiration from nature with fluted columns designed to resemble trees and branches.Inside most surfaces are done in smooth curves which is a trademark of Gaudi.

Admission Price: Entrance only is 13 EUR, Entrance + audioguide is 17 EUR 
(Entrance is in the Passion Facade)
Opening Hours: 9am-6pm (Oct to March), 9am to 8pm (April to September)
Since this is one or if not the top tourist attraction in Barcelona expect long lines and crowds. It would be better to visit it early with tickets booked by internet. If you are not able to book via internet it is best to queue before the opening hours to avoid long waiting times and the deluge of the crowds.
How to get here: Take the metro to Sagrada Familia. A few minutes walk from the metro stop
Souvenirs: The souvenir shop inside the church is quite pricey but they have items that are not available in the usual souvenirs shops. For a more budget friendly options there are several souvenir shops near the Passion Facade

To the uninitiated, they might find Gaudi's design too flamboyant or perhaps a tad too tacky with all the bizaare shapes and details. For others, they arrive in Barcelona with the barest knowledge of Antoni Gaudi and left with great respect and admiration of the genius behind the man.


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