Gaudi Gazing in Barcelona – Featured Post by travel blogger Jac - TheOccasionalTraveller.com
The Occasional Traveller is a light-hearted and interesting travel blog by Singaporean girl, Jac; archiving all her occasional travels sparked by…well you guessed it, wanderlust! Her travel stories, useful destination tips and travel-inspiring goodies set out to give you that necessary nudge to book an air ticket, pack your bags and travel. The Occasional Traveller is Jac’s way of reminding all of us to always stop and take time to get away from the monotony of work, work and work.
In this featured post, she tells you about her travels to Barcelona, Spain and her mesmerization with Antoni Gaudi’s masterpieces of architecture sprinkled all over the spellbinding city. She provides you with some very useful travel tips on where to go to marvel at the wonderful works of celebrated Spanish architect and designer, Antoni Gaudi.
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“Gaudi Gazing in Barcelona”
I love visiting Europe for its lovely and diverse architecture – Singapore where I hail from is a relatively young country, and with rapid modernization, a lot of our older buildings have given way to new-fangled sparkling mega structures lacking the old-world charm that time and history imbues.
So when I visited Barcelona, I was blown away by my first encounter with Antoni Gaudi as I walked along the main streets of Passeig de Gracia; his work really spoke to me, something about the unique way that he combines nature, art and even religion with architecture to create distinctive masterpieces that you can’t mistake for anyone else’s work. There’s something beautiful, and something right, about the way you use nature’s own structures to breathe life into traditionally straight lined concrete-slabbed buildings.
Gaudi died in 1926 after getting run over rather ignominiously by a passing tram, but his legacy lives on in his iconic work scattered throughout Spain.
If you get the chance to visit Barcelona, here’s what you need to see to learn about Antoni Gaudi and his work:
If you only have time for one…
Basilica de La Sagrada Familia
The Sacred Family Church is arguably Gaudi’s most famous work, mostly for the fact that this 170m tall structure started building way back in 1883 and is still under construction to this day. Whatever pictures or virtual tour you see online cannot compare to actually experiencing this mammoth structure in person. If you’re passing through Barcelona and only have time for 1 Gaudi structure, make time to visit this one!
Take your time to visit the church – you can easily spend half a day there – the 2 entrance facades (Nativity and Passion) offer 2 very different looks and you could spend a long time just scrutinizing the many detailed sculptures. There’s also a basement museum which offers scale models of the envisioned final product, but the highlight is definitely heading up to the towers where you’ll have a fantastic view of the Barcelona city skyline, as well as a chance to view some of the sculpture work up close and personal. It costs 3 euros extra and there’s usually a queue for this, but it’s well worth the wait – take the lift up and stroll down slowly so you can admire the scenery and architecture.
It’s pretty easy to get there – the MRT stops outside the church, and it’s pretty hard to miss this towering structure in the city! I’m pretty sure any Barcelonian will be able to tell you how to get here.
If you want a peek at his inspirations and life…
La Pedrera/Casa Mila
Another Gaudi highlight is La Pedrera, or lesser known as Casa Mila. Originally built as a private apartment block for a wealthy couple, it’s now a museum and home of the Espai Gaudi permanent exhibition where you can learn all about Gaudi and his works and gain insight into his inspirations. The exhibition is up in the attic of La Pedrera, which has 270 arches that looks simultaneously like the inside of a whale or the upside-down bow of a ship. You can also check out the apartments on Level 3 where you will see the recreation of the apartment as it was back in Gaudi’s day, and perhaps pretend you were born a good century ago. But the highlight here is definitely be the roof where you have an obstructed view of downtown Barcelona and the odd soldier-face like sculptures that litter the rooftop.
La Pedrera is conveniently located at #92 Passeig de Gracia, one of the main promenades in Barcelona. You can also check out Casa Batllo at #43 on the way over. It’s another smaller house that Gaudi also built for a private family with the nickname ‘House of Bones’, but it’s pretty expensive to go in (18 euro!) so you can just gawk at it from the outside if you don’t want to pay for entrance…
For outdoor lovers and budget travellers…
If the weather is good, head over to Parc Guell, a 17-ha park originally meant as a luxury residential estate, but ended up being converted into a municipality park. It contains a number of iconic Gaudi structures, including the famous mosaic Dragon (I’m sorry, but it really looks more like a lizard than your typical dragon) at the park’s entrance, the large park square with colourful undulating walls, an archwave which I call the “wave cave” and 2 fairy-tale like houses flanking the main entrance, one of which now houses a gift shop.
You can also check out one of Gaudi’s residences in his time in Barcelona, a little pink structure which has since been converted into a museum called Casa Museu Gaudi. Beyond architecture, it also showcases furniture designed by Gaudi, all taking on his signature natural curves and shapes. It’s free entry to visit the park (yay!) so if you’re on a really tight budget, Parc Guell is a fantastic way to encounter Gaudi (there’s an entrance fee for the house though!)
The closest MRT stop is Vallcarca, but it’s still a fair walk from there to get to the park, but the good news is that there are outdoor escalators to make the uphill climb easier, and while you enter at the back of the park, you start off with the best view of Barcelona where the cross is, and after that it’s an easier downhill walk to the main areas of the park. You can then exit the park from the main entrance, you can then walk downhill to Lesseps MRT.
* There are special joint ticket prices if you plan to visit 2 or 3 of these attractions, so if you know you’re definitely going to these places, invest in a joint ticket to save some euros!
Will you come away a Gaudi fan after seeing his work? It really depends on your taste for his aesthetic; I found his work to be a marvel, but he also had his fair share of detractors back in his day – my favourite quote would be from Elies Rogent, then-director of Barcelona Architecture School saying upon Gaudi’s graduation: “We have given this academic title either to a fool or a genius. Time will show.” (source: Wikipedia)
But whatever the case, there is no denying that Gaudi has had a hand in shaping Barcelona through his work, and it really is worth a look if you’re visiting the place.
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