I have always been in awe of the architecture of Antoni Gaudí. Photographs and history have sufficed for me since high school, until last month. Even after spending six months in Madrid during college, I never got to Barcelona. Every time I looked at a photo of the facade of La Sagrada Familia, it was a new WOW! I simply could not imagine the skill, time and vision that the architect and the stone masons had. Until my good fortune of being given a sabbatical this year, I had not been able to visit Barcelona to see any of this with my own eyes. I have to say that every Gaudí site was more incredible than I ever imagined.
His view and use of nature as the main design for architecture is awe-inspiring. Once I could appreciate his perspectives, his works made perfect sense. It is difficult for me to say which aspect of which work of art is my favorite; I don’t think it’s possible to say. However, I appreciate his use of recycled glass and ceramics to create his mosaics; Gaudí was an architect with a vision far before his time in so many ways. He was a modernist who set the bar for others. He pitted two wealthy Barcelona families against one another in a race to have the most impressive Gaudí designed home. His understanding of the value in creating ergonomic door handles and furniture…. To walk through his works is to physically step into a work of art; it is breathtaking.
The first site we visited inside and out was Parque Güell. It was a wonderful site to begin at because one could see the modernism – the use of nature in the columns that looked like trees on angles to support arch ways, colors of nature in the mosaics along with the recycled materials, and water basins to preserve natural resources. The Güell family hired Gaudí to create their home and surrounding park. An Indiano family, (the most wealthy families in Spain in the late 1800’s whose parents had returned from the New World with riches beyond imagination), who desired to have their wealth on show for all to envy.
La Sagrada Familia was next… I could have spent several hours, maybe even days in and outside of the cathedral. This amazing building is under construction, still. The Fundación Gaudí is committed to finishing the crowning achievement by 2026 which is one hundred years after the death of its creator. The facade took my breath away. While you see the stories of the Old Testament, it is what you have to know about Gaudí’s style and passion for nature to truly see everything in the stonework. The animals, insects, plants and flowers that are intertwined among the stories are not to be missed.
The interior continued to show Gaudí’s passion for nature in terms of his appreciation for light and the colors and shadows coming through the beautiful stained glass. The photo below is the perfect example of this.
I began this blog post on April 6th… it was overwhelming to put everything down in one sitting and also challenging to pick the photos that accurately portrayed my awe and reactions. We visited two more Gaudí buildings, La Casa Mila and Casa Batlò. They will be my next post.