Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 2 - Barcelona: Wow!

That became the word de jour on Monday as Sara, Roisin and I toured La Sagrada Familia – the “Holy Family” church, designed by Antoni Gaudi. Construction started on the church in 1882 and is still going on. From a distance, the church looks massive, a little rough and busy.

 Back of the church.


But up close, the intricate detail carved onto the exterior of the church is unbelievable. The long line outside was a blessing in disguise as it gave us a chance to really get a good look at it. The longer we looked, the more we saw. 




Front of the church.








Inside, the vaulted ceiling was designed to provide the necessary accoustics to support four organs and a choir of 170. The soaring columns and designs in the ceiling were inspired by trees.








Looking up at the ceiling.









The altar, stained glass and the natural light streaming through combined to create a space that was breathtaking. Despite the crowd inside, it was easy to find a spot to sit peacefully and just enjoy the stunning beauty inside.


We spent three hours exploring the inside and outside and took hundreds of photos that just don’t do it justice.  If you are ever in Barcelona, this is a must see.

After La Sagrada Familia, Sara and I ate some delicious sandwiches on big, fat, freshly baked baguettes, while Roisin had to make do with some gluten-free snacks.  We sat outdoor tables just down the road, in view of the church, and still ooing and awing over the place.
Then we hopped the metro to get to the funicular that would take us to Montjuїc  --  the largest green space in Barcelona, on a hill overlooking the city. It was first settled by Iberian Celtic peoples and then used by the Romans for ceremonies.  Once we reached Montjuїc, we took the aerial cable car to Castell de Montjuїc, built in the 18th century to defend Barcelona.  Great views of the sea and the city from up there!
View of Barcelona from the cable car.

 
Castell de Montjuїc


By this time it was late afternoon, and Carolina had arrived in Barcelona, so we took aerial car, funicular and metro back to our hotel to meet up with her. 

 
Carolina & Sara relax on the hotel's terrace.


After we cleaned ourselves up a bit, the four of us headed north up Pg de Gràcia to see some of the modernista architecture in an area known as the Block of Discord.  This style of architecture is a treat to look at. One of the buildings by Gaudi, especially, looks like something out of a fairy tale.
 Antoni Gaudi modeled the facade of the Casa Batlló in 1906.
It's believed the building represents the legend of Saint George and his dragon -- you can see the dragon's back in the curving roof with its blue-green shingles.



After a while our growling stomachs were becoming hard to ignore so we turned down a side street, to a tapas restaurant, where we sampled everything from sardines to oxtail. A leisurely stroll back to the hotel on a beautiful summer night marked another full day in Barcelona!

   






    Fountain in the square bordering our hotel.



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