Saturday, September 19, 2009

Spain pictures (Muy Tarde!)

My previous Spain travel blogging was dry and wordy, and ultimately pretty lame. SO - I have decided to be a good writer and SHOW you what I saw, not TELL you. I also have a one up on most writers who follow this rule, because I have some pretty rockin' pictures to share (it's not cheating, really...). Mmmkay!

What better way to start off a story about Barcelona than with a little bit of Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona's patron modern architect. He had a thing for arches, grandeur, and (I think) the absurd. Some of elements of his work are sleek and beautiful (see above) while some are just... weird. Or so I think.

This is the front of Casa Batillo, which is an apartment building! I'm not sure if anyone actually lives there right now, but it's a pretty magnificent place. Every SINGLE detail was thought of when it was constructed, from the walls and ceilings to the ergonomical shape of the window handles. If I had to describe this building in one word, I think it would be "whimsical". Or possibly "wobbly".

wobble wobble

We hit three of the four really famous Gaudi buildings in one day. Our second stop was at la Pedrera (or the Stone Quarry). This place was a commercial building of some sort. The first picture posted here is from the attic of the building, which was pretty cool, if not a little claustrophobic. There were attendants herding everyone this way and that, and so we didn't get to spend much time looking at all the things they have in the museum that was there. We got ushered on to the roof.

My mom takes terrible pictures of me...

The roof was one of the more interesting roofs I have seen in my time, with big spiral, smoke shaped spires of broken tile ascending into the gray sky. Whoa. Sorry about that flowery language dump, I must be getting carried away. Anyway! We didn't stay here long, partially on account of our not-so-friendly human-shepherds, and partially because we needed to move on to bigger and better things.

La Sagrada Familia. Aaahhh yes, an ENORMOUS cathedral to which Gaudi devoted the last 14 years of his life (before it was cut short on account of him getting hit by a trolley and being left unattended to die in a homeless shelter because nobody recognized him. Dark). The Sagrada, still unfinished and in a perpetual state of construction, is one of the most amazing buildings I have ever seen. To paraphrase my guide book, from a distance it looks like a clumsy giant poured wax all over what would normally be a pretty standard gothic cathedral, but upon further investigation you can see that every. single. little. lump is a shape - a flower, or a bunny, or a person - someone who was influential to Christ during his early years. There are all the characters from various Bible stories, including this super-angry baby-killin' Roman guy:

That is the front facade. The back represents the crucifixion, and is my favorite of the two sides. It has a much more modern look, and has a creepy minimalist style that I totally dig.

Each little cluster of people represents one of the 13 (?) stages of the passion. Note the bad-ass looking Romans in the middle. I wouldn't want to cross those guys... Also, the man in the bottom right is the most hopeless, sad statue I have ever seen. I think that's one of the reason I tend to like depictions of the crucifixion more than of other familiar religious scenes - it forces the artist (and the viewer) to understand and depict man in absolute misery and despair and you end up looking at how dire the human condition can be...

Alright, enough depressing stuff. Below is the inside of the cathedral, and it's just about all that's been completed, but it's absolutely stunning! The rest is just a sea of criss-crossing scaffolding that is so thick it almost blocks out the light of the sun!

Just to give you some scope of how really REALLY big this place is, here is a picture I grabbed from Google images:
Yeah. It's big. And only two of the three facades are done. I think they hope to have the whole project complete by the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death in 2028, but they are going to have a tough time, because all the construction is funded by donations and revenue generated from admissions.

Sadly, all of my Parque Guell (the fourth and final Gaudi stop) photos suck.. so.. yeah. This concludes the Gaudi post! Again, apologies for the delay in posting pictures! I still have many, many more to show you!

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