Tag Archives: Park Guell

Travels in Spain, Barcelona in Pictures

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Travels in Spain, Park Guell in Barcelona

Park GuellIMG_0022OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABarcelona dragon

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

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Weekly Photo Challenge: ZigZag

Barcelona Gaudi Park Guell

ZigZag – Gaudi Style

The bus continued along Passeig de Gràcia past the Casa Milà and then turned right along the grid pattern streets and headed towards Gaudi’s unfinished Cathedral, La Sagrada Familia and still we stayed stubbornly in our seats with a plan to see all of these on the next day but the next stop on route was the architect’s vision of a Barcelona middle class housing development away from the grime of the industrial city, the Park Guell and here we made our first stop.

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Catalonia, Barcelona and the Bus Touristic – Part One

Barcelona Catalonia Postcard

“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

I was rather nervous of visiting the Catalan capital of Barcelona and the pickpocket capital of Europe because the last time that I went there a thief separated me from my wallet and went on a spending spree with my debit card.  It was rather like losing a camera on the Athens Metro.  I eventually got the money back from the bank but it spoilt the day as most of it was spent at the police station and the British Embassy but I like to think that the whole unpleasant experience taught me a valuable lesson in life and I am much more careful now with my possessions.

Not, however so confident about security that I would want to leave a car there and as  I didn’t want to drive into Barcelona  we took the train from Girona and arrived mid morning at Plaça Catalunya and emerged blinking from the darkness of the metro station into the blinding sunlight of the busy square with white knuckles gripped tightly around my wallet – still there – a good start!

I had a city map but we were completely disorientated and quite unable to distinguish between north and south or left and right and we circumnavigated the square several times looking for a street name that reconciled with the map until at the second or third pass we found La Rambla which was something so familiar that I can’t imagine how we missed it the first time and so we walked along the most famous street in Barcelona and about half way down stopped at a pavement bar for an expensive beer and an overpriced tapas lunch.

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.  It is certainly a place to keep a firm grip on your wallet!

We knew that Barcelona in just a couple of days was going to be a challenge so we flicked through the pages of the guide book and ticked off the places that we wanted to see and when we had finished that we reviewed the selection and realised that it would be almost impossible to achieve in the time available.  Kim however came up with a solution that would help and she suggested using the open top Barcelona Bus Touristic which is a bus service with three main routes that cover all of the principal sights around the city.

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One of the main interchanges was at Plaça Catalunya so we wandered back, purchased our tickets and for no particular reason decided to start with the red route that covers the northern part of the city.  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 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.

Because we had only just started the tour about five minutes ago we didn’t get off here but I knew that we would definitely have to return.

The bus continued along Passeig de Gràcia past the Casa Milà and then turned right along the grid pattern streets and headed towards Gaudi’s unfinished Cathedral, La Sagrada Familia and still we stayed stubbornly in our seats with a plan to see all of these on the next day but the next stop on route was the architect’s vision of a Barcelona middle class housing development away from the grime of the industrial city, the Park Guell and here we made our first stop.

Actually the whole project turned out to be overly ambitious and the houses 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.

Gaudi Dragon Park Guell

As we left I checked my wallet for the hundredth time today and we got back on the bus which now headed further out of the city to the suburbs on the higher ground.  At Sarria we got off and explored the narrow streets of a traditional and quiet area of the city where we bought some local cake specialities and found a bar for lunch and a beer and watched council workers erecting lights and decorations in preparation for a festival.

After lunch we rejoined the bus and to my surprise I was beginning to enjoy this method of sightseeing as the route took us through a district of wide leafy roads with churches, monasteries and palaces and then began a climb to a high spot above the city and pulled into a bus stop on the edge of a massive empty car park.  This was Camp Nou, the home of Barcelona FC, the largest football stadium in Europe and possibly, by some measures, the largest in the World.

Barcelona FC was founded in 1899 by a group of Swiss, English and Catalan footballers and has become a symbol of Catalan culture and separatism that has the motto – “Més que un club” (More than a club).  After its Spanish rivals Real Madrid, it is the world’s second-richest football club in terms of revenue, with an annual turnover of nearly €500 million and after Real Madrid and Manchester United it is the third most valuable, worth €2.6billion.

A lot of people got off the bus here but I wasn’t especially interested in visiting the stadium or the museum and I was certain that Kim wouldn’t be so we stayed in our seats until we reached the next stop where our plan was to change to the blue route which would eventually take us back to the city centre.  Half the tour completed and I still had my wallet and we both still had our cameras– we were doing well!

Barcelona Catalunya

More posts about Antoni Gaudi:

Catalonia, Barcelona and Antoni Gaudi

Alternative Twelve Treasures of Spain – Antoni Gaudi

Twelve Treasures of Spain, La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Cantabria, Comillas and Antoni Gaudi

Casa Batlló, Barcelona