Tag Archives: La Sagrada Família

Alternative Images of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

I am inspired today by my blogging Pal Jo who has completed a thirty one day challenge to post in pictures and in words about a visit to Barcelona.

In 2018 I visited Barcelona and my friend and keen photographer Richard spent every spare minute taking pictures of Sagrada Familia.  I am convinced that he possesses the largest collection of pictures of the Gaudi masterpiece in the entire World.

I am quite unable to compete with either Jo or Richard so I offer you these alternative images.

These are from the walls of the nearby metro station…

This is from the beach at Barconaleta…

By Dali…

And this is from the inevitable gift shop…

 

Thursday Doors – Casa Batlló, Barcelona

Casa Batllo Door 01

Casa Batlló is a unique and fabulous building that defies any sort of description and is a building that has to be seen to be fully appreciated. From the road outside the building looks stunning and the local name for the building is Casa dels ossos, literally the House of bones and the building has a visceral, skeletal organic quality. Much of the façade is decorated with a mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles that begins in shades of golden orange and moves and merges harmoniously into greenish blues.

Casa Batllo Door 03

Read the Full Story…

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

Travels in Spain, Barcelona in Pictures

Click on an image to scroll through the pictures of Barcelona…

Travels in Spain, Alternative Images of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Sagrada Familia Sand Castle

Spotted on a nearby beach constructed by two children with the same imagination as Antoni Gaudi.

Travels in Spain, The Barcelona Metro

Barcelona Metro 02

Some pictures of tiles down in the Barcelona Metro.  I imagine a lot of people miss these as they rush through to make connections whilst being on the look-out for pickpockets!

Barcelona Metro 01Barcelona Metro 04 Barcelona Metro 03

Travels in Spain, Eixample and the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona

gzio5ux

“Most visits to Spain are trouble-free, but you should be alert to the existence of street crime, especially thieves using distraction techniques. Thieves often work in teams of two or more people and tend to target money and passports.”   British Foreign Office Advice

The modern parts of Barcelona are a triumph of urban planning.  We were staying in the Eixample district which was planned and built about one hundred and fifty years ago by a man called Ildefons Cerdà and is characterized by long straight streets, a strict grid pattern crossed by wide avenues and square blocks with chamfered corners all of which means that the traffic always flows freely in a slick one-way system and it is easy to navigate on foot.

Eixample, rather unimaginatively, simply translates as ‘expansion district’ and was developed when the old town of Barcelona became too small and overcrowded, the medieval city walls were demolished and the city overflowed like a river bursting its banks.  This is where to visit the Sagrada Familia and the modernist architecture of Antoni Gaudi but today we turned our backs on this and found our way to the old town and the Gothic Quarter.

Barcelona Streets 2

I mention these details about Eixample because the old town of Barcelona is a complete contrast with a maze of winding narrow streets with soaring buildings that block out the sun, where laundry hangs out to dry, shutters are thrown open like butterfly wings and  balcony gardens are stacked in the sky.

This is where to find sections of the original Roman Wall, the Jewish Quarter and the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia which although now eclipsed perhaps by Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia is the one true Roman Cathedral of Barcelona.

It is quite a nice but these days I am beginning to agree with Kim that all Cathedrals tend to be rather similar and instantly forgettable once back outside the front door so I have become interested instead in the stories of the Saints who are commemorated in these places and this I think is a good one.

Barcelona Cathedral

By the way, if you are squeamish about torture, mutilation and murder you might want to close your eyes, skip this part of the post and go straight to the next picture below.

Saint Eulalia was a thirteen year-old Christian girl who suffered martyrdom in Barcelona during the persecution of Christians in the reign of Emperor Diocletian as a consequence of refusing to renounce her faith.

The Romans subjected her to thirteen tortures…

  1. Imprisonment in a very tiny cell barely big enough for a mouse,
  2. being whipped,
  3. scourging of the flesh with metal hooks,
  4. walking barefoot on burning embers,
  5. mutilation,
  6. rubbing her wounds with rough stones,
  7. branding with cast iron,
  8. throwing boiling oil and,
  9. molten lead over her,
  10. submerged in burning lime,
  11. locked in a flea box,
  12. rolled down a hill, naked, in a barrel full of knives, swords and glass,
  13. crucified in the form of a cross.

Gothic Quarter 2

Eulalia must have been really tough cookie because even after all of this she was still alive so they finished the job by cutting off her head.  A dove is supposed to have flown from her neck following her decapitation and that is why the Cathedral keeps thirteen white geese (one for each of the tortures) in the cloister in memory of her.  Geese because doves fly away I guess.

After the Cathedral we strolled slowly to the sea front and the modern marina and then headed back to the centre along the iconic La Rambla.

Barcelona Sea Front Symbol of City

La Rambla is a riot, an eclectic mix of sights and sounds which easily strays from modern to medieval and back with impressive ease.  Here are the boutiques and tourist shops, the street statues and entertainers, the tapas bars and souvenir stalls but alongside them are the market stalls and animal livestock sales which would appear to be more appropriate to a shopping experience in the Middle Ages.

Barcelona has a reputation for being the pick-pocket capital of Europe and La Rambla is certainly a place to keep a firm grip on your wallet.  As it turned out we didn’t need Santa Eulalia to look out for us because we had Kim.  Ever since being robbed on the Athens Metro she is always suspicious and ever  alert to danger and paced out La Rambla with eyes swiveling left and right, up and down like Liam Neeson after four shots of double espresso and forever heeding her warnings we successfully negotiated the walk from south to north before arriving safely back in Plaça Catalunya and what had become our favourite lunchtime café.

Barcelona Streets 3

Other Unlikely Saint Stories…

Saint James and Santiago de Compostela

Saint Patrick and Ireland

Saint Spiridon and Corfu

Saint Janurius and the Miracle of The Blood

Travels in Spain, Barcelona and Antoni Gaudi

Casa Batlo Barcelona Gaudi

“Allow me to state here how much I love Barcelona, an admirable city, a city full of life, intense, a port open to the past and future.” – Le Corbusier

I don’t really like sightseeing bus tours.  It seems to me that they flash by anything worth seeing with indecent haste without stopping and then spend several minutes at red lights and busy road junctions where there is nothing of any interest to see at all.  Today however I was persuaded to take the bus tour.

Our plan was to take the bus several stops to the outskirts of the city to a place called Park Guell, another of the must see Gaudi sites in Barcelona.  Everything went according to plan until we reached the entrance and it was full and without pre-booked tickets no admission available until late afternoon.  We didn’t have pre-booked tickets so were obliged to reschedule our day and return to the bus stop.  This involved a rather steep hill and a lot of complaints.

Back on the bus we took our seats on the top deck in the sun and soon the bus started to move and joined the Passeig de Gràcia in the Eixample district of Barcelona and heading for Antoni Gaudi’s Casa Milà but only a short way along across the street we saw the most amazing building imaginable that also turned out to be the work of the famous architect – the Casa Batlló, recently restored as a museum and now open to the public.

We left the bus and feared that this would be another place where pre-booking is advisable but were delighted to discover that all we had to do was buy a ticket and walk straight in.  No fuss, no bother!

Casa Batlo Gaudi Barcelona

Casa Batlló is a unique and fabulous building that defies any sort of written description that can do it justice. It is a building that has to be seen to be fully appreciated.  From the road outside the building looks stunning and the local name for the building is Casa dels ossos, literally the House of bones and the building has a visceral, skeletal organic quality.  Much of the façade is decorated with a mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles that begins in shades of golden orange and moves and merges harmoniously through greens and turquoise and into blues.

Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí i Cornet was a Catalan architect with a name which quite frankly is a bit of a mouthful so thankfully he is usually referred to by the simplified version of Antoni Gaudí.   He  belonged to the European Modernist Art Nouveau movement and was famous for his unique style and highly individualistic designs.  He designed Casa Batlló, in a prosperous middle class district of Barcelona for a wealthy city Aristocrat who was carrying out an expensive refurbishment of the property that had originally been built in 1877.

Casa Battlo exterior

It is a wonderful riot of style and outrageous architectural ideas and designs and stepping inside is like being given the privilege of sharing the inside of the mind of a genius.  Every room is a treasure and the attention to detail is immaculate.  The ground floor, in particular, is rather astonishing with tracery, irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stone work.  It seems that Gaudi’s objective was to completely avoid straight lines and wherever possible to use nature as inspiration.

My favourite part of the building was the roof with its forest of coloured chimneys decorating a terrace which is arched and is likened by students of Gaudi to the backbone of a dragon.  A common theory about the building is that the rounded feature to the left of centre, terminating at the top in a turret and cross, represents the sword of Saint George the patron saint of Catalonia, which has been plunged into the back of the dragon.

Casa Battlo Roof

Visit over and after lunch at Plaça Catalunya we returned to the bus and endured a rather tedious journey through the city and along the coast and after about an hour of this I remembered all of the reasons that I don’t like city bus tours and chastised myself for breaking my vow never to do it again.

My mind wandered as we followed the route and now I digress.  As far as I can make out there are seven places in the World called Barcelona, this one of course then three in South America, in Venezuela, Colombia and Brazil, one in the Philippines, one in New York State USA and most unlikely of all a small hamlet in Cornwall, England.

Eventually we arrived back at Park Guell and climbed a grueling hill for the second time today to the entrance.  Park Guell is the architect’s vision of a Barcelona middle class housing development far away from the grime of the industrial city and the fishing port and we presented our tickets and made our way inside.

Barcelona dragonIMG_0022

Actually the whole project turned out to be rather overly ambitious and the houses that were planned were never built but before it was abandoned Gaudi designed and built the infrastructure of roads, terraces and parks and he did himself live there for twenty years before his death in a house that is now the Gaudi House Museum.  After Park Guell Gaudi had another project to move onto – La Sagrada Familia.

Like a lot of artistic people Gaudi tended towards eccentricity and because of his ragged attire and empty pockets, many cab drivers refused to pick him up as he walked about the city for fear that he would be unable to pay the fare.

On 7th June 1926 Gaudi was rather carelessly run over by a tram and because no one recognised him he was taken to a pauper’s hospital.  His friends found him the next day but when they tried to move him into a better hospital, Gaudi refused, reportedly saying “I belong here among the poor.”  He died three days later on and was buried in the crypt of his Cathedral, La Sagrada Família.

Antoni Gaudi Comillas Cantabria Spain

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

Travels in Spain, Alternative Images of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Barcelona Souvenir Tee ShirtBarcelona Tee Shirt

From the inevitable Sagrada Familia Gift Shop!

Travels in Spain, Alternative Images of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Sagrada Familia Tiles 02Sagrada Familia Tiles 01

Two tile mosaics from the Sagrada Familia Metro Station directly below the Temple.  I am afraid that I cannot explain the flying saucer that appears top left in the first!

Travels in Spain, Barcelona and the Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia 01

“What I saw in Barcelona – Gaudí – was the work of such strength, such faith, of an extraordinary technical capacity, manifested during a whole life of genius…” – Le Corbusier (Swiss Architect)

We had been to Barcelona before but didn’t hesitate for a moment to go again.  It might be the pickpocket capital of Spain, maybe even Europe, but a couple of months earlier we had survived a few days in Naples without any thieving mishaps so felt confident that we could handle ourselves in Barcelona.

We arrived in the afternoon and completely out of character hopped in a taxi to take us the short ride to our accommodation, the budget hotel IBIS in Eixample which claimed to be close to the Sagrada Familia, the unfinished Cathedral of the Catalan genius architect Antoni Gaudi.  We were not to be disappointed because it was only a five minute easy stroll away.

After approving our rooms we walked there immediately but couldn’t go inside to visit because it was sold out for the day so we had to satisfy ourselves with a walk around the exterior and then booking some entrance tickets for later in the week.

Sagrada Familia Detail

It was quite pricey to get in but then this is the principal source of fund raising because the long drawn out construction is not supported financially by the National State of Spain, the Autonomous Community of Catalonia, the Province or City of Barcelona or even the Catholic Church (it points out that it already has one Cathedral in Barcelona, why does it need another?)  The only source of income is visitor receipts and construction costs are currently estimated at €1 million a month.  That is a lot of visitors.

Work on the Cathedral began in 1882 and it is due for completion in 2026 and although I say long drawn out and nearly one hundred and fifty years may seem a very long time, to put this into some sort of perspective, you can’t really expect to build a cathedral in just a couple of years – except perhaps for the Basilica of our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City which was built in just two years but, if you ask me, doesn’t really look like a Cathedral in the traditional  sense – so I am not counting it (it’s my blog!)

So just how long does it take to build a Cathedral?

In England York Mister took two hundred and forty-two years, but by comparison St Paul’s in London was rushed up in only thirty-one, Notre Dame in Paris took one hundred and eighty-five years, Seville in Spain one hundred and eighteen years and St Peter’s in Rome one hundred and twenty years and although this might seem like snail’s pace construction all of these were positively rapid compared to Milan at five hundred and seventy-nine years and Cologne in Germany at six hundred and thirty-two years – a shame then you might think that Allied bombers knocked it down in the space of just a few nights during the Second-World-War!

St_Michael's_Cathedral_ruins,_Coventry

I digress here but the bombing story reminded me that the German Luftwaffe similarly destroyed Coventry Cathedral in 1940 in just one bombing raid.  This Cathedral with the third highest spire in England after Salisbury and Norwich had taken sixty years to build between 1373 and 1433 which I suppose you might consider quite quick, but not as rapid as the new Coventry Cathedral which was built in only six years and which, in a national poll in the 1990s, was voted Britain’s favourite twentieth century building.

I remember going there on a school visit in about 1964.

Back now to Barcelona.

So we purchased our entry tickets and went inside into a surreal world of a combination of church and building site with pallets of stone and brick side by side with pews and confessional boxes and we wandered around the great nave and the side chapels through soaring arches that look like giant trees with a fluidity of the design that creates the illusion of fusion, columns and arches melt into a viscous panorama that foams, drips and provides refuge for plants, animals and people and as we stood and admired it I hoped that although it is difficult to get inside the mind of a genius like Gaudi that I might at least be able to understand just a little of what it all meant.

Sagrada Familia 02

As it happens, I am not certain about what I think about Sagrada Familia. It confuses me. It is a piece of Disney World.  Although it was consecrated as a Minor Basilica by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 (there are currently one thousand seven hundred and fifty Catholic Minor Basilicas and including the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona has nine) I am unsure if this is a place of worship or a Barcelona theme park.  George Orwell said it was “one of the most hideous buildings in the world” .

When the final stone is set in place, the Sagrada Família will be the world’s tallest church, soaring five hundred and sixty feet into the sky. Second highest (currently first) will be Ulm Cathedral in Germany at five hundred and thirty feet high and Lincoln Cathedral in England (currently second) is five hundred and twenty-five.  It will also be the strangest looking and possibly the most controversial place of worship ever built on such an epic scale. Looking for all the world like a cluster of gigantic stone termites’ nest or perhaps a petrified forest, this hugely ambitious church has confounded architects, critics and historians ever since its unprecedented shape became apparent.

Sagrada Familia Statues

Looking ahead I wonder if after completion in 2026 (maybe?) the tourists can be kept away and it can become a genuine Temple of Worship? Currently it is the second most visited place in Spain after the Alhambra Palace in Granada. Will they ever stop that?  Personally, I doubt it. Currently attendance at Mass at Sagrada Familia requires an invitation, rather like the Queen’s Garden Parties in the UK.

When complete, the Basilica will boast no fewer than eighteen spires – eight have been built so far, twelve representing Christ’s apostles, four the evangelists (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), one the Blessed Virgin Mary and the tallest, Christ the Saviour

It is a magnificent but ultimately pointless building that I suspect will never achieve its original objective. I preferred the Gothic Cathedral in Barcelona Old Town which we visited a few days later.

Maybe I am just old fashioned and I am reminded of my Dad’s negative reaction to the church in the village where we lived when they started serving afternoon tea and cakes, he was outraged that the Vicar would think about turning a church into a café. It is probably a Starbucks now.

I am getting to be like my Dad but that is not such a bad thing!

Sagrada Familia at Night