Tuesday, November 5, 2013

An Amble Admiring Architecture

During our travels, I have found that I enjoy architecture a lot.  As we walk down the street, I am constantly pointing out "cool buildings" to Bobby.  His response many times is, "Which one?  Oh.  Hmmm."  Indicating to me that he is trying to relate, but often does not appreciate the "coolness" like I do.  On October 21st, he humored me by going on a Gaudi self-guided walking tour.  Gaudi is admired around the world as one of the most distinctive architects. The unique technique and use of natural forms make Gaudi creations stand out from the pack of other buildings.  After already visiting Parc Guell, I knew this would be an interesting walk.  It's also important to keep in mind that he designed these building in the early 1900's.  

Since I was more interested in Gaudi and his work, I planned the route and researched the information.  I opened up wiki pages for each of the buildings on my phone so that we could read about the history and characteristics as we stood in front of each building.  Luckily, right before we left our apartment Bobby glanced over my handwritten directions and loaded a map on his phone of the area.  As we stepped out of the train station, I was thankful that he helped point me down the correct street.  He laughed at my handwritten directions. "Who still does that?", he asked!  Anywho, we started first at La Pedrera, also known as the Casa Milà.  It was a controversial design during the early 1900's. Architecturally it is considered an innovative work for its steel structure and self-supporting facade. Other innovative elements were the construction of underground car parking and separate lifts and stairs for the owners and their servants.  I found it interesting that Gaudi wanted the people who lived in the flats to all know each other. Therefore there were only lifts on every second floor so people had to communicate with one another on different floors. Another cool feature was the roof and the chimneys.  All of Gaudi's works were very expensive to enter.  We decided that we would just enjoy from the outside and look at pictures on the internet of the inside. :)
After looking up close and into the windows, we walked down the street a couple of blocks to the next stop:  Casa Batlló.  The local name for the building is Casa dels ossos (House of Bones).  Casa Batlló is a remodel of a previously built house (built in 1877 and remodeled in 1904).  The Batlló family was very well known in Barcelona for its contribution to the textile industry in the city.  Josep Batlló wanted an architect that would design a house that was like no other and stood out as being audacious and creative. Both Josep and his wife were open to anything and they decided not to limit Gaudi.  I really liked the fact that they did not limit Gaudi.  In 1904 the Barcelona City Council selected the house as a candidate for that year’s best building award.  Although he did not win the award, I like the fact that the owners decided to let go of control and trust in the artist.  I imagine had they put a lot of restrictions and limitations on the design, then it would not have turned out so marvelous.  In the pictures below you can see many of the features that made it so amazing.  Much of the facade is decorated with a mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles that starts in shades of golden orange moving into greenish blues. The roof is arched and was likened to the back of a dragon or dinosaur.

The building next door was also really cool, but seemed not to receive much recognition.
We always knew we were at the right spot because of the huge crowds.  
The last stop on our walk was the famous Sagrada Família.  The construction of Sagrada Família commenced in 1882 and is still under construction.  The Church will have three grand facades: the Nativity facade to the East, the Passion facade to the West, and the Glory facade to the South (yet to be completed). The Nativity Facade was built before work was interrupted in 1935 and bears the most direct Gaudi influence. The Passion facade was built after the project which Gaudi planned in 1917. The construction was begun in 1954, and the towers, built over the elliptical plan, were finished in 1976. It is especially striking for its spare, gaunt, tormented characters, including emaciated figures of Christ being scourged at the pillar; and Christ on the Cross.  The Glory facade, on which construction began in 2002, will be the largest and most monumental of the three and will represent one's ascension to God. It will also depict various scenes such as Hell, Purgatory, and will include elements such as the Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Heavenly Virtues.  In a previous post I had mentioned that I was more impressed with the Barcelona Cathedral.  After looking up close and learning more about the buildings, I take back my original stance.  I love the Barcelona Cathedral, but La Sagrada is also very amazing.  Our pictures below do not do the church justice as at this point in the day, the sun was setting.  Many of the pictures we took ended up being a little blurry.
Amelie in front of the Nativity Facade.
There were so many scenes from the Bible carved into this facade it was almost easily missed.  I made myself slow down and really look at each area.
The church has already closed for the day when we arrived which ended up being nice to view the outside without lots of lines and people in the way.  The first day we came here it was crazy busy with people which is maybe why I missed so much.
The Passion Facade.
"Everyone lean in and say cheese!"
After an afternoon of riding in the stroller, our next stop had to be the playground.  We played for an hour or so at the playground across from La Sagrada.  Bobby and I were still able to marvel at the massiveness of the church while Amelie and Liam ran around the playground.  

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