Barcelona


Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain, capital city of Catalonia and the province with the same name. It is located in the comarca of Barcelonès, along the Mediterranean coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs. As capital city of Catalonia, Barcelona houses the seat of the Generalitat de Catalunya and its Conselleries, the Parliament of Catalonia and the Supreme Court of Catalonia.

Barcelona is located on the northeast coast of the Iberian Peninsula, facing the Mediterranean sea, in a plateau limited by the mountain range of Collserola, the Llobregat river on the south and the Besòs river on the north. It is 100 miles south of the Pyrenees mountain range. Collserola, part of the coastal mountain range, forms a soft rounded backdrop to the city. The city is peppered with small hills, most of them urbanized and that gave name to the neighborhoods build upon them: Carmel (267 m.), Monterols (121 m.), Putxet (181 m.), Rovira (261 m.) and Peira (133 m.).

The mountain of Montjuïc (173 m.) is situated to the southeast, overlooking the harbor, topped by the Montjuïc castle, a fortress built in the 17-18th centuries to control the city as a replacement for the Ciutadella. Nowadays, the fortress is a museum and the mountain houses former Olympic and cultural venues, as well as some well-known gardens. To the north, the city borders the municipalities of Santa Coloma de Gramenet and Sant Adrià de Besòs; to the south it borders L’Hospitalet de Llobregat and Esplugues de Llobregat; to the east is the Mediterranean; and to the west are Montcada i Reixach and Sant Cugat del Vallès.

Museu Picasso

The Museu Picasso (Picasso Museum) in Barcelona, Spain, has one of the most extensive collections of artworks by the 20th century Spanish artist Pablo Picasso. This is one of the most popular and most visited museum in Barcelona. The museum is housed in five adjoining medieval palaces in Barcelona’s Barri Gotic. There are more than 3,500 works making up the permanent collection of the museum, mostly his early works from when he lived in Barcelona. Picasso arrived in the city in 1894, when his father, an art teacher, had found work teaching in the city art school. Highlights of the collection include two of his first major works, The First Communion(1896), and Science and Charity(1897). In particular, the Museu Picasso reveals Picasso’s relationship with the city of Barcelona, a relationship that was shaped in his youth and adolescence, and continued until his death.

Casa Milà

Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera (Catalan for ‘The Quarry’), is a building designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and built in the years 1905–1907. It is located at 92, Passeig de Gràcia (’passeig’ is Catalan for promenade or avenue) in the Eixample district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It was built for Roger Segimon de Milà. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Works of Antoni Gaudí”. The building does not have any straight lines. Most people consider it magnificent and overwhelming; some say it is like waves of lava or a sand-dune. This building seems to break our understanding of conventional architecture.

The most astonishing part is the roof with an almost lunar appearance and dreamlike landscape. The building can be considered more of a sculpture than a regular building. Critics remark on its detachment from usefulness, but others consider it to be art. The Barcelonese of the time considered it ugly, hence the “quarry” nickname, but today it is a landmark of Barcelona.

It could be compared with the steep cliff walls in which African tribes build their cave-like dwellings. The wavy facade, with its large pores, reminds one also of an undulating beach of fine sand, formed, for example, by a receding dune. The honeycombs made by industrious bees might also spring to the mind of the observer viewing the snake-like ups-and-downs that run through the whole building.

Casa Batlló

Casa Batlló is a building designed by Antoni Gaudi and built in years 1905–1907; located at 43, Passeig de Gràcia (passeig is Catalan for promenade or avenue), part of the Illa de la Discòrdia in the Eixample district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. The local name for the building is Casa dels ossos (house of bones), and indeed it does have a visceral, skeletal organic quality. It was originally designed for a middle-class family and situated in a prosperous district of Barcelona. The building looks very remarkable — like everything Gaudi designed, only identifiable as Modernisme or Art Nouveau in the broadest sense. The ground floor, in particular, is rather astonishing with tracery, irregular oval windows and flowing sculpted stone work.

Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia (The Holy Family) is a large Roman Catholic basilica under construction in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. The formal title of the basilica is the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família or Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family. The basilica is the last, and perhaps most extraordinary, of the designs of the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. It is not a cathedral; the cathedral of Barcelona is the Cathedral of Santa Eulàlia, a Gothic building of the late Middle Ages.


The Sagrada Família was planned in the late 19th century and construction work, under the supervision of Gaudí, commenced in the 1880s. After disagreements between the founding association and the original architect Francesco del Villar, Gaudí was assigned the project in 1883 and created an entirely new design. At the time, the basilica stood in an empty field over a mile away from urban Barcelona.

The Sagrada Familia exterior in November 2006 Gaudí worked on the project for over 40 years, devoting the last 15 years of his life entirely to this endeavour; on the subject of the extremely long construction, Gaudí is said to have joked, “My client is not in a hurry.” After Gaudí’s death in 1926, work continued under the direction of Domènech Sugranyes until interrupted by the Spanish Civil War in 1935. Parts of the unfinished building and Gaudí’s models and workshop were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War by Catalan anarchists. The design, as now being constructed, is based both on reconstructed versions of the lost plans and on modern adaptations. Since 1940 the architects Francesc Quintana, Isidre Puig Boada, Lluís Bonet i Gari and Fracesc Cardoner have carried on the work. The current director and son of Lluís Bonet, Jordi Bonet i Armengol, has been introducing computers into the design and construction process since the 1980s. Sculptures by J. Busquets, Etsuro Sotoo, and the controversial Josep Subirachs decorate the fantastical façades.

Park Güell

Park Güell is a wide garden complex with architectural elements situated on the hill of el Carmel in the Gràcia district of Barcelona, Spain. It was designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and built in the years 1900 to 1914. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Works of Antoni Gaudí”.

The park was originally part of a commercially unsuccessful housing site, the idea of Count Eusebi de Güell, whom the park was named after. It was inspired by the English garden city movement, hence the original English name Park. It has since been converted into a municipal garden. While entrance to the Park is free, Gaudí’s house — containing furniture that he designed — can be only visited for an entrance fee. Gaudí’s mosaic work on the main terrace Gaudí’s multi coloured mosaic lizard fountain at the main entrance. Although it sounds unlikely, the place is skilfully designed and composed to bring the peace and calm that one would expect from a park.

The buildings, though very original and remarkable with fantastically shaped roofs with unusual pinnacles, are relatively inconspicuous in the landscape, when one considers the flamboyance of other buildings designed by Gaudí. The focal point of the park is the main terrace, surrounded by a long bench in the form of a sea serpent. To design the curvature of the bench surface Gaudí used the shape of buttocks left by a naked workman sitting in wet clay. The curves of the serpent bench form a number of enclaves, creating a more social atmosphere.

Gaudí incorporated many motifs of Catalan nationalism, and elements from religious mysticism and ancient poetry, into the Park. The visitor was originally greeted by two life-size mechanical gazelles (a major euphemistic symbol of ‘the young beloved’ in the Hebrew strand of the medieval love poetry of the region), but these have since been lost during the turbulence of war. The large cross at the Park’s high-point offers the most complete view of Barcelona and the bay. It is possible to view the main city in panaroma, with the Sagrada Família and the Montjuïc area visible at a distance.

Aquarium

We also visited the Barcelona Aquarium.  Its a great place to take kids and reminded me of the aquarium in Sydney.  Enjoy!

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