Travel: Sagrada Famila

So, I tend to think that I am traveling during the off-season of the tourism industry, but today was not the case. When we arrived at the Sagrada Familia the line wrapped all the way around the cathedral, thankfully, in my preemptive research, we had already purchased tickets online that allowed us selective entry within the assigned time-slot; no waiting for us!

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The Cathedral is Gaudí‘s brainchild, and has been in construction for over a century. Construction of the structure commenced in 1882, and Gaudi officially took the design of the project in 1883, transforming the conventional structure into his vision, something that cohesively incorporated gothic roots and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. It recently reached surpassed the halfway point of construction primarily due to financial setbacks that had resulted from the interruption of the Spanish Civil War.


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Nativity Facade

Passion Facade

Passion Facade







It was absolutely breathtaking to behold. Gaudi has a penchant for embracing the natural forms he sees in nature, such as the way a tree branches or the facets of a crystallized gem. In the modern architecture world, we call this biomimicry, utilizing observations from nature and emulating the structure or processes to build a thought-provoking and innovative structure.

You can see it in his design of the interior columns.

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You can see it in how he effectively uses natural lighting in the interior.

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It was also quite amazing as a structural engineer to understand that he utilized the concept of form-finding in one of his earlier designs, the Colonia Guell. This is particularly fascinating because it involves finding the equilibrium shape of a structure given applied loads. It is an example of simplified non-linear analysis in actions wherefore the structure tends to get stiffer, and stronger, as it is subject to more deformation, the opposite of what one would typically think.

Okay, moving on from my enginerd moment. : P

Next, we spent a leisurely walk admiring the architectural discord that resulted from having different architects design houses that are co-located side by side on the Illa de la Discordia. It is particularly vital since it is noted for being prime examples of Barcelona’s most important Modernista architects, Lluís Domènech i MontanerAntoni GaudíJosep Puig i Cadafalch and Enric Sagnier

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The image is a little jarring, yet its catches the viewer’s eye and allows one to study the uniquely disparate styles of each individual.

Our final act of the day was to swing by the Palau Musica after traipsing through the streets of the Gothic Quarter. We opted not to tour the interior earlier in the week because the cost tradeoff wasn’t quite worth it considering that the Sagrada Familia was the same entry price, but had more significant visionary value. It does seem gorgeous though, so if you are in the area and have time, you should try to catch a performance at least.

The Sagrada Familia has been a consistent controversy within the borders of Spain, what are your thoughts on it? Is it over-the-top and an unnecessary investment? Or is it an icon of Gaudi and a symbolic representation of the Catholic Faith?


Travel: Picasso

Pablo Picasso 1962

We started off the day by checking out the Museu Picasso. It was the vision of Jaume Sabartés, Picasso’s longtime friend and secretary, to provide a means to display the many paintings, drawings, and prints that he had acquired through the years. Although the original intent was to found the museum in  Málaga, his birthplace, his strong ties with Barcelona made the city a far more suitable candidate.

I’m sure you are all well acquainted with Picasso, but I will provide you a brief background nonetheless. In 1881, He was the first-born child of Don José Ruiz y Blasco and María Picasso y López. His father was a professor of art at the school of crafts and curator for the local museum. We can chance his Ruiz ancestor back to the blood of minor aristocrats.

Don, his father, was a firm believer in traditional artistic training, requiring young Picasso to conduct a disciplined study of the masters and perfect his sketches by practicing from sculptures and nude models. Through the years, and with the urging of his father and uncle, Picasso ended up at the Royal Academy of San Fernando in 1898, the most famous art school in the country. However, he disliked the formality of classwork and quit soon thereafter.

He eventually made his first foray into Paris in 1900, and it was there, that he formed his own unique style, what we know as  Cubism today. Cubism is a fairly abstract expression of art as it lacks formality and is disruptive and detached to the eye. It also has the capability of evoking a realistic spirit and raw emotion if one chooses to ponder the painting long enough. See my previous post on the Guernica for more guidance.

*No Photographs = No Pictures for this. 😦

Exterior - Barcelona Cathedral

Exterior – Barcelona Cathedral

Our next destination was the Barcelona Cathedral, a massive looming structure that originates from the 13th century with final finishes completed in the 15th century. It is the seat of the ArchBishop in Barcelona, and dedicated to the Patron Saint  Eulalia of Barcelona.

Cathedral Tower

Cathedral Tower






Saint Eulalia suffered martyrdom at the hands of the Romans when they stripped her in a public square; it is said that a miraculous snowfall covered her nudity. They then subjected her to 13 tortures, the primary one involving putting her in a barrel with knives in it, and rolling her down the street. She was only 13.

Forgive me for my gory imagery, I have been trying to decipher the meaning of all these saints as I am exposed to them in my foray into religious architecture. I will admit, however, the dearth of Gothic architecture I’ve encountered these past few weeks may have been excessive.

The day was wrapped up with a leisurely walk down the infamous La Rambla, including a stop at the Mercat de La Boqueria.

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Travel: Transition Day to Barcelona

Didn’t accomplish much today, we were considering visiting the Mosteiro  de San Miguel de Los Reyes but after the awe-inspiring El Escorial, we weren’t sure it was worth delaying our train. This is particularly true since we like to arrive in our next city early enough to accomplish some tasks before night hits.

AKA. It was a travel day. After arriving at our destination of Barcelona, we had just enough daylight to spend traipsing around Parc Güell. It originated as a commercial housing project, founded by the Count Eusebi Güell. Inspired by the  English garden city movement, the intention was to exploit the fresh air and capitalize on the beautiful views by providing 60 triangular lots of luxury houses.

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However, only two houses were eventually built, and although Gaudi is associated with these, that is far from true. Gaudi did, however, live in the park from 1906 to 1926, purchasing the remaining vacant lot at the count’s suggestion. It now houses the  Gaudi House Museum.

A big part of the design, incorporates  a slew of mosaic tiling.

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Obviously, we didn’t accomplish as much as we usually do, due to my jam-packed schedule planning. Nonetheless, it was relaxing to just take a quiet, no schedule, breather day.

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