BARCELONA, SPAIN — Barcelona is known for two things: one fleeting, the other timeless. So after the tapas plates and vermouth glasses were cleared, it was time to seek out the beauty that is Gaudi’s Barcelona.
I’ve always loved architecture. Put into the world’s most world-renown art museums, I might spend as much time studying the beams and porticoes as much as the oil paintings.
But the first time I visited Barcelona and saw Gaudi’s masterpieces up close, it opened a completely new world for me. Whimsical, sometimes dark and haunting, but always head-scratchingly precise — Gaudi was a true artist at work. And his canvas was one of the world’s most beautiful cities.
So upon our return, I had to show Molly the Gaudi greats. Most notably his masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia cathedral. The last time I was here, nearly 10 years ago now, scaffolding covered much of the inner nave. Now, largely completed and free of cover, this space was even more amazing than the first time. We spent nearly two hours exploring its depths, shadows and flowing light patterns.
At the same time timeless and modern, this crown jewel of the city still has some ten years before completion. I can’t wait to return to see the final product — although in some way part of the beauty in the building is the fact that it is seemingly never finished.
From the sacred to the whimsical. The next stop was the Dr. Suess-esque Park Guell. A kind of fantasy land styled urban project that was supposed to house thousands of Barca’s most wealthy citizens. When the residential project fell through due to logistical challenges, Gaudi finished the park anyway — going bankrupt in the processs — and the city eventually purchased it as a public space.
These days, the city actually needs to limit the number of visitors that pour into the park. We spent an afternoon in the bohemian neighborhood of Gracia before hiking up the hill to explore the park’s tunnels and balustrades, amazing tilework and the breathtaking view over the city, La Sagrada Familia and the Mediterranean below.
Barcelona — a feast for the eyes, a feast for the belly and a feast for the heart. As a final destination on this amazing continent, we couldn’t have been happier. Salud, Spain. Muchas gracias once again.