Cosmopolitan, Stylish, Energetic & Home To Some Of The World’s Most Bizarre Architecture
Passeig Maritim, Barcelona, Spain. June 16, 2014
J ust like in Madrid before it, I’ve kept busy for the last three days looking around Barcelona, Spain’s second & most cosmopolitan city. A political hotbed & the capital of the Catalonia region of Spain, since the late 19th century this city has been breaking ground in art & architecture and today it is renowned worldwide for its unusual visual aesthetics; it’s visually a very different city to typically Spanish Madrid or anything one is likely to find in stereotypically Spanish Andalusia.
— davidMbyrne.com (@ByrneDavidM) June 16, 2014
Barcelona Architecture || Gaudi & Co., Modernisme & The Modernistas
Barcelona is a vast city of districts, each with their own architectural style. It is home to some of the world’s most unique architecture & whether you’re an architecture buff or not any visit to the city will result in ogling at some of the world’s most bizarre, somewhat confused looking buildings.
A lot of the unique look of Barcelona can be attributed to a late 19th & early 20th century generation of inventive local architects, the most famous of which was Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926). By using Barcelona as a canvas & employing an adventurous combinations of materials like tiles, glass, brick, iron & steel, Gaudi & Co., a.k.a. the Modernistas, largely succeeded in creating their own Catalan architectural style, a local offshoot of the Europe-wide phenomenon of Art Nouveau & one that borrowed elements from virtually every other variety of architectural style – everything from Gothic to Islamic, Renaissance to Romanesque, Byzantine to baroque. I call it discombobulated Art Nouveau.
Read the whole post from my ambles around Barcelona or click here to access specific areas relating to what to see, of what I saw, in the city.
3 – Barri Gotic
4 – La Rambla
5 – Port Vell (Old Harbour) – Port de Barcelona & Barceloneta
6 – Camp Nou
The Gallery || Barcelona
Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família
The Roman Catholic Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família is both Gaudi’s magnum opus & Spain’s most visited monument, as the queues to enter it will attest to. After 132+ years of construction it is still not finished, the ever-present cranes towering over the structure as iconic a sight as its 8 towers – upon completion there will be 12 towers in total signifying the 12 Apostles, the primary disciples of Jesus. Yes, there is method in all of this madness.
– Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer Prize-winning architectural critic commenting on the Sagrada Família.
Construction of Sagrada Família commenced in 1882. Gaudi wasn’t involved from the outset, only taking over the following year before going on to transform the structure with his own architectural and engineering style, one combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted his last years to the project and at the time of his death in 1926 less than a quarter of the project was complete. Sagrada Família’s construction progressed slowly thereafter – it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War – only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 and with some of the project’s greatest challenges still remaining, the anticipated completion date has been set at 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death.
– Antoni Gaudí remarking on the extremely long construction period of the Sagrada Família.
– UNESCO commenting on the Works of Antoni Gaudi
– Rainer Zerbst, Art Critic, commenting on the Sagrada Família
L’Eixample (The Extension)
Want more Gaudi? Fine. The bulk, although not all, of the UNESCO-listed Works of Antoni Gaudi, including the Sagrada Família, are found in the affluent L’Eixample (the Extension) district of Barcelona, a spread-out grid of wide, straight boulevards that was the city’s 19th-century answer to the overcrowding of Barri Gotic, the central medieval part of the city (see below for more on Barri Gothic). L’Eixample’s main avenue, Passage de Gracia, is where you will find the more outlandish Modernist creations, with Gaudi’s Casa Batilo taking top billing.
Barri Gotic || Original Barcelona
There’s no Art Nouveau here. Barri Gotic, Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter, houses the bulk of the city’s ancient & medieval splendours. In total contrast to the wide boulevards of the L’Eixample district, Barri Gotic is a central district, a warren of narrow, winding streets, plazas, grand mansions and monuments. A remnant of the city’s golden age, many of the buildings here date from the 15th century or earlier, a time when thankfully Gaudi et al weren’t around to gaudy-up the Gothic stunners on show.
You can’t avoid it, although you might want to once among the throngs. La Rambla, Spain’s most famous street and Barcelona’s tourist central, is a broad 1.2-kilometre-long pedestrianised boulevard flanked by narrow traffic lanes & lined with cafes, restaurants and any manner of attractions.
Port Vell (Old Harbour), Port de Barcelona & Barceloneta
La Rambla, somewhat conveniently, ends at Port Vell, Barcelona’s old waterfront harbour, an area of the city that was spruced up as part of a massive urban renewal program ahead of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Whereas in the past this was an no-go district of rundown warehouses & factories that caused public protests, today Port Vell is a rejuvenated focal point for city tourism boasting trendy cafes, bars, Europe’s largest aquarium, beaches, & numerous pedestrian promenades.
The Camp Nou, the home of FC Barcelona, seats almost 100,000 (99,354 according to Wikipedia) making it the largest stadium in Europe. For that reason alone I paid it a visit. Messi (& Co.) were busy in Brazil with World Cup duties but his face, & that of his Barcelona teammates, was never too far away.