On arriving in Barcelona a couple of days ago, one of the first things we did was pay a visit to Park Guell, designed by the renowned architect, Antoni Gaudi. Even though I thought it was very good, it was a little disappointing, since some parts of the park were closed off for renovation. Since then, we’ve seen evidence of Gaudi’s work around the city, though it wasn’t until yesterday that we threw ourselves in for a deep dive, visiting both Casa Milà and the Basílica de la Sagrada Familia.
Casa Milà is a remarkable building. Though largely a public space, museum and gallery these days, the original purpose for the building (apartments and business for the affluent middle class) continues. “I wonder how much it would cost to live here?”, Sue said at one point. “Not as much as Sydney”, I joked in return. The audio tour tells us it was always going to be a building for the “well to do”. As we walked around one of the “original” apartments, I smiled, recognising in the kitchen the same meat mincer I’d grown up with, and the same Singer sewing machine (with a foot pedal) my mum had continued to use until I was about ten years old, and on which she had taught me how to sew.
Though the apartment was interesting enough, the attic and rooftop held the most attraction for me. The attic, designed to house the laundry and other associated activities, has a Cathedral-like interior. But it was the rooftop that I really loved. The audio tour described Gaudi’s attitude towards rooftop design thus: when the rooftop is decorated with only a chimney or an air-vent, they’re “like a head with only a few hairs”. This attitude helps explain why he’s taken these ordinary, though important things, and given them the wildly interesting ornamentation he has. Some appear like turrets on a mosque, others as Picasso-like sculptures, and one is decorated with broken champagne bottles. In the distance you can see the Basílica de la Sagrada Familia, his other great work in the city, albeit, unfinished.
Construction continues on Sagrada Familia, due for completion in 2026, with modern cranes competing for airspace with the ornate towers of the cathedral. In contrast, the inside of the cathedral is “relatively” simple. That’s not to say the inside lacks ornamentation. The stained glass windows are beautiful, though not as ornate as you might expect, and might otherwise find in cathedrals elsewhere. There were a few moments late in the afternoon when the sun shone through, projecting some beautiful shades of orange and red onto the floor. Magic. There’s also a “non-traditional” crucifix that hangs down above the altar which could probably be described, and I’m not meaning to be profane, as “Jesus In A Parachute”.
Both places were wonderful to visit, and highlights of this holiday.
We’re definitely getting in to the Spanish lifestyle, with late lunches, siestas, and a mid-evening meal. Though tempted to head into the city for the much recommended, “Mercat Princesa”, last night, we went for a largely vegetarian cafe “Timeline” which we had identified earlier as “Local Option 2”.
Right now, we’re on the train, headed to San Sebastian.