by Steve Smith
The Catalan City of Barcelona in Spain is known for many things. An Argentinian, Lionel Messi is one of them. The great football club that he plays for is arguably the best in the world and a visit to its stadium, the Nou Camp and its museum is a tourist attraction in itself and it is even better to watch a match there. However the name that really dominates Barcelona is Antonio Gaudi, born in Reus in Catalonia in 1852. He died in 1926 and 90 years on his greatest architectural masterpiece has yet to be finished, Sagrada Familia, the Roman Catholic Citadel where work began in 1882. The last 15 years of his life was devoted entirely to this project; as he said himself: ‘’ My client is not in a hurry.’’ Clearly that is the case and current predictions are that the ‘’client’’ will finally have delivery in 10 more years.
Gaudi used many different materials in his architecture; stained glass, wrought iron, ceramics and timber. During his lifetime, a movement in architecture known as ‘’Modernism’’ he used natural forms which have made his buildings instantly recognizable. His methods rarely used plans; he preferred making scale models of his ideas and there are several UNESCO World Heritage sites as his legacy, the following in Barcelona including Sagrada Familia:
• Park Güell designed by Gaudi early in the 20th Century and opened to the public in 1926.
• Palau Güell, a mansion for the industrialist Eusebi Guell.
• Casa Milà (La Pedrera) originally a private home but now the home of the Catalunya- La Pedrera Foundation.
• Nativity facade, the crypt and the apse of the Sagrada Família.
• Casa Vicens, an early example of Art Nouveau.
• Casa Batlló, nicknamed the ‘’House of Bones’’ now hosts many important functions in the City.
• The Cathedral of Santa Eulàlia is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Barcelona. It was built between the 13th and 15th Century on the site of a former Visigothic church.
• La Rambla is a fairly short pedestrian street and within it is the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. The colors of the food products on sale are stunning and the building under which it is situated is 19th Century though it is thought a market has existed there since the 12th Century.
• The Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya in the Palau Nacional combines Romanesque and Gothic with Renaissance and Baroque.
• Palau de la Musica Catalana is an important Art Nouveau building not designed by Gaudi. Lluis Domenech i Montaner’s building opened in 1908.
• Barcelona hosted the Olympics in 1992 and the Stadium is open to visitors as well as being home to Barcelona’s second football club, Espanyol.
There is plenty to see and do in Barcelona. One of the real pleasures is the cuisine. Tapas for lunch, great traditional dishes with superb wine at night complete the experience of this stunning city. Messi will return to Argentina one day but Gaudi will remain forever.
What is your favorite place in Barcelona?
Steve Smith graduated in Politics from Liverpool University; he has worked abroad and in the UK and travelled for most of his life, mostly for holidays. After visiting Istanbul and the Turquoise Coast in South West Turkey he has made the country his home.