Park Güell looks like a fairy tale in a natural setting on 37 acres with whimsical architecture…no wonder it became a World Heritage site in 1984. Gaudi was commissioned in 1900 to build an exclusive housing development for the wealthy. The well-off families would have the best view of the sea, and very fresh air.
At first look, one could mistake this for Disneyworld. It was never fully completed as a residential area, due to a shortfall of buyers, only two homes were built. It was converted to a garden for tourists and is a treasure for the city. Since 1914, generations have been able to enjoy and admire one of Gaudi’s greatest work.
It’s a masterpiece of mosaics and reflects his Christian faith and Catalan nationalism. Just the right combination of nature and art. You will see, arcades, grottoes, and pavilions amidst a wonderful park. Park Güell symbolizes paradise on earth, while the town below depicts earthly life.
There are two gingerbread houses that flank the main entrance. One is the caretakers lodge which has a mushroom cap with upside down coffee cups!
The other one is the Administration lodge which is now a bookshop with souvenirs.
The twin staircase is the entrance and is magnificent at first sight.
The iguana (or dragon) fountain is an icon at the park and is made of mosaic tile that looks like scales. This technique is called trencadis; shards of broken ceramic tiles.
See the close up below because it is not easy to get a front photo of this dragon when people are surrounding the area. Obviously, a very popular spot.
The slanted columns (copied from Greek architects) is exaggerated for strength and visual vitality.
The medallion on ceiling is a symbol of the suns that represent the 4 seasons.
The wavy mosaic park bench is made up of tiny pieces of ceramic and glass — the colors are symbolic of faith, hope, and charity. The bench is curved for lumbar support with a real functional design (by Jujol) and was influenced by Cubism and Surrealist aesthetics. This serpentine bench overlooks Barcelona with a panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea.
We can see that Gaudi looked to nature for inspiration since he was a spiritual man. He knew nature wasn’t just decoration, it was functional and aesthetic.
Park Güell is Barcelona’s best landmark of Gaudi’s playful works!
Art Nouveau – Hospital de Sant Creu Pau
The Sant Pau is a real masterpiece of Art Nouveau and was renovated by (Gaudi’s teacher) Lluis Domenech I Montaner who was an architect and philanthropist who wanted to help patients recover in tranquility. He believed that patients needed color, fresh air, trees and a sense of the earth in order to recover.
Massive restoration began in 1902 and was finished in 1930 and it has returned to its former splendor. Although it originally dates back to the 15th century with 6 hospitals on a grand scale, it no longer is in use as a hospital and has been converted into an international center for cultural projects. As of 1997 it became recognized as a World Heritage site.
“Angels and saints” watch over walkways where the sick once walked, while the gargoyles are meant to scare away evil spirits. The oldest part of the hospital represents Gothic architecture with an air of a medieval palace. It’s Barcelona best-kept secret.
Not your average hospital, and no other one exists in the world today. Sant Creu is an authentic gem of Modernism patterns with mosaics, ceramics and curved lines. Definitely over the top with adornment.
Picasso came here when he was just 14 years old. The Museu Picasso opened in 1963. Here, the collection gradually expanded with donations from Salvador Dali and Sebastià Junyer Vidal, though the largest part of the present collection came from Picasso himself. The building is stunning, and I could not take my eyes off of the architecture which is from the medieval period dating from the 13th-14th century.
His widow, Jacqueline Roque, donated 40 ceramic pieces throughout the latter years. This museum is the only one created during Picasso’s life. The collection, now comprised of over 3,500 works, originated from the personal collection of Jaume Sabartés, Picasso’s lifelong friend and secretary. The style here is Catalan civic gothic… and the courtyard is magnificent.
Even if you don’t like Picasso, the tour of this building is like none I have ever seen. I could now understand that Picasso’s wish was to have this museum in Barcelona. Amazingly, the museum includes some of this childhood sketches.
What a surprise to see some of his early pottery. There were several pieces here that he made while living in Spain, during his formative years while under his father’s training.
Once a Roman township at the end of the 1st center B.C. known as Barcino. This area of the city is known as the Barri Gòtic (Catalan), Barrio Gótico (Spanish) or Gothic Quarter.
The Bishop’s Bridge
Roman and Medieval walls
In the United States we have a tendency to think of buildings as people: after 100 years they are old and gone. Walking around the Gothic section of Barcelona you still feel the presence of ancient Rome 2,000 years ago. The 10 foot thick Roman walls are still there and are a timeline of civilization.
In the heart of the Barri Gothic is the Cathedral of Santa Eulàlia
Plaça Sant Jaume at nightime
Fountain built in 1367 Plaça de Sant Just.
Barri Gòtic Quarter street lamp
Barcelona has everthing: good wine, healthy and delicious food, outstanding sites and the Mediterranean Sea. They have big flavor food, and finger-licking bites, and I thought the prices were reasonable. There was so much I didn’t get to taste; the vermouth, and Paella, I know…that’s a typical dish here, but I didn’t want all the rice.
The people were gracious and respectful even during the Catalan independence movement march in early November.
Now I have two of the nine world heritage sites scratched off my bucket list. History comes to life here, and Catalans are proud both of their country and culture.