Barcelona, the city of Gaudí. The majority of Barcelona’s major sites were designed by architect Antonio Gaudí, and while each is beautiful, original, and unlike anything else you’ve ever seen, it’s possible to get a little dizzy from all the wavy lines and bright colors if you pack all the Gaudí sites into one day. That’s probably why Baldwin is hiding behind a bench in Park Guell; he just can’t take it anymore.
Nonetheless, Park Guell was actually my favorite of all the Gaudí sites. A little out of the way from the main tourist area of the city, it covers a huge area and is famous for the lizard statue at the entrance and the wavy mosaic benches that offer a great view over the city and the Mediterranean beyond. In my opinion, it’s a great way to enjoy Gaudí’s style without feeling like you’ve stepped into an alternate universe that is a cross between Candyland and the Spy Kids movies.
Casa Batló and Casa Mila (also known as La Pedrera) offer what we took to calling the “Gaudí overload” or “Candyland” effect: both feel like they should be in Disney World rather then on the main streets of a bustling city. Nonetheless, they are both beautiful, must-see Barcelona sites. La Pedrera is actually a functioning apartment building, and the best thing to do is a get a tour at night. The rooftop is much more impressive in the dark, and offers great views of the city as well.
The most famous Gaudí site is, of course, the Sagrada Familia. When they say under construction, they really mean it – half the façade was blocked with scaffolding. Get tickets ahead of time to make sure you can go inside without waiting in an extremely long line, because the inside is more complete then the outside and offers a much more enjoyable view. There is also a small museum in the basement with some of the original sketches and models of the church, so you can see what it will look like when it is complete (they’re aiming for 2026, the 100-year anniversary of Gaudi’s death).
Barcelona, the capitol of the Cataluña province of Spain, is unique not only for its architecture but also for its culture. The people speak Catalan, a mix between Spanish and French, as the region was routinely fought over by the two larger kingdoms of Spain and France, and a peaceful but strong movement currently supports Cataluña’s independence from Spain. The flag with the blue star in the photo is the flag of the Cataluña independence movement, an a few of these flags can be found hanging from the windows of nearly every apartment building in Barcelona.
Check back soon to see where Baldwin will go next!
All photos by Jillian Timko