For those who know my tastes in things like art, furniture and architecture, you know that it runs along the lines of antiques… Renaissance antiques. (That’s mid-13th to mid-16th century for those who need a bit of a reminder)
And while Barcelona has lovely remnants from that period – like the Cathedral and the heart of the El Barri Gothic – Barcelona has become known for fashion, art and architecture under the umbrella of ‘modernism.’ Modernism reigned supreme at the end of the nineteenth century and start of the twentieth… and has left a huge footprint on the city. Anything that has been built in the city since the revamping for the 1992 Olympics and incorporation into the EU has payed homage to ‘modernism.’
And king of the Barcelona ‘modernists’ is of course Antonio Gaudi.
I figured that even though it’s not my cup of bricks (in fact, modernist architecture in Barcelona has put me in mind of ‘Toon Town’ in Disneyland!), I cannot visit Barcelona without doing due diligence and checking out Gaudi’s spaces.
So I made a day of it – I walked from the Plaça de Catalunya in the sunshine along Passeig de Gracia – the beautiful shopping street lined with trees and cafes and shops like Burberry and Marina Rinaldi and Escada. To me it’s a less intense, more elegant version of the Champs D’Elysees and a beautiful walk. (If you have time, stop at Divinus restaurant for stuffed Eggplant ‘Piamontesa.’ YUM.)
As you head north, notice the architecture – an incredible mixture of old and modern and ‘new.’ You’ll see Gaudi’s Casa Batllo… and the brand new steel and glass building ‘copying’ its curves.
A block later – the famous Gaudi apartment complex, La Pedrera. It’s worth stopping for a coffee in its shadows! And if you are interested enough – pay the ticket to head into the building and walk around, see the view. I was happy with an outside glance.
On Carrer de Provença turn right, and head toward Sagrada Familia – the church designed by Gaudi, begun in 1882… and SLATED TO BE FINISHED IN 2030!
I did some reading before hand – and actually watched a very interesting little film which is in Dutch and English – so I was curious… my curiosity turned to… being stunned.
What an AWE-some space. Not only does Gaudi push limits in terms of design, I’ve never seen someone take nature and BUILD on it’s shapes and ideas like this. And a church! What a place to bring nature inside… to bring ‘presence’ inside.
I wondered around, marveled at the colored glass that was part of the detail that Gaudi had added since it creates the same shadows and shapes as one would find on a forest floor, I was wowed by the columns, I turned circles and craned my neck.
And when the organ started to play… I sat… I cried… I prayed.
I’m now a fan of Gaudi modernism.