Nom de Plumage

April 4, 2013



Need I say more? No long descriptive title will ever do justice to the man who revolutionised architecture and changed the face of Barcelona. Love him or hate him, his work is many and yet unfortunately, some stand unfinished. When you walk the streets of the city the predominant architecture is art deco; beautiful and very stylish. Gaudi took this style further and created something very unique and ahead of his time. For me personally, what resonates the most about the man, was that he came from an ordinary family, had no real formal education and defied the times and created some of the world’s much-loved masterpieces. I am no great critic of art or architecture,( or maybe yet; after my Italian overload of Italian Renaissance art, I may just qualify as a novice) and cannot write in great detail about what constitutes as ‘great’ or ‘brilliant’, I can only write what I have seen or loved. Any form of art really comes down to the way it makes you feel or how it touches you. Gaudi’s work may not  please  many, and I can understand that his work is viewed as eccentric or overwhelming, but I love the colours, the unique detail, the intricate additions and the eccentricity. Some of his work seem right out of a fairy tale and others could be perfectly situated next to any great monument of the world.

Ticket prices are not cheap when visiting any of his work. One can only justify the hefty price in the hope that it goes to preservation of his work. Also, there are many of his buildings within the city centre (easily accessible by foot), but others are outside and do require some navigation. I chose to stay within the city and hope that in the future I can return and see what I missed.

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Passeig de Gracia is a wide (French à la mode) boulevard that houses two of Gaudi’s work – Casa Batllo and Pederera. They are almost across the road from each other. Casa Battlo is the more beautiful and a kaleidoscope of mosaics in brilliant colours. A whooping twenty-five euros will get you inside to a world beyond description. If you love eccentricity, then this is a must. On the other hand, Pederera is very plain from the outside and there is an eleven euro entrance fee, which I passed.  I continued walking the wide boulevards, enjoying the scenery and elegance of the city. Above the city skyline, tall pointed spikes aim for the blue sky and this is my direction.

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La Sagrada Familia is one of the world’s longest ongoing construction site. Perpetually covered in scaffolding and with more than a decade still in construction, this, Gaudi’s masterpiece, draws the crowds by the thousands. The first sight of the cathedral, makes you gasp. It is like no other building or cathedral in the world. The scaffolding, although covering parts, does take away from the overall beauty; but it is still a breathtaking structure. The intricate stone lace-work, the incredibly numerous,long pointed turrets that dominate the overall impression and the detailed workmanship of the edifice, are only parts of what make the cathedral special. This is Gaudi’s best work and unfortunately, his last which he never got to see finished. There is a twelve euro entrance fee, but you cannot even imagine not to go inside.

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The word ‘cathedral’ conjures up images and feelings of wealth, dark, gold, cold, relics, solemnity, frescoes and religious marvels. La Sagrada Familia on the other hand is light, colour, sparsity, freedom, simplicity, intricacy, warm and little religious artefacts. When you enter, the first impression that engulfs you is the vast open space and the brilliant colours that beam down on you. There is peace and that feeling of spirituality always associated with cathedrals, but none feel so warm and offer such freedom as this cathedral. It may not be as beautiful as the Vatican or famous as Notre Dame, but give it time.

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I needed to keep that feeling of ‘spirituality’ and felt the best way to achieve inner happiness, is at a café to devour churros and hot chocolate. Chocolate is my religion and it makes me feel so good, that the word ‘diet’ is not in my vocabulary (especially when travelling). A churros is golden and crisp on the outside and gooey and delicious on the inside. Dip it into your hot chocolate and it is called heaven.

My chocolate pilgrimage continued down the road, when I discovered a museum dedicated to the art of making and consuming chocolate. I could not pass an opportunity like this by and pay the small entrance fee. There is great showmanship of  historical creation and production of chocolate, followed by ‘works of art’ by Spain’s chocolate masters and their very creative sculptures. Each sculpture has a story to tell and about the master who produced it. At the back of the museum, is a glass window that allows the tourist to look inside ‘Willy Wonka’s’ and see the artisans at work. Do not envy them constantly having tourists press their noses against the window for a show, but they all appeared happy enough and got on with it.

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1 Comment »

  1. Wow!!! amazing!!!

    Comment by Heidi Nemeth — April 9, 2013 @ 6:32 pm | Reply

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