Travel photography: Spain
Cities and Architecture - Part 1

October 30, 2015

Gaudí's Barcelona

Rarely has a single person influenced the appearance of a city as strongly and lasting as Catalan Architect Antoni Gaudí has done with Barcelona. Nearly all of the well-known architectural places of interest bear his hallmark.

Barcelona is counted among the world's major global cities due to its influence in the fields of tourism, commerce, science, fashion and the arts. It is also one of the best known and most popular European cities due to its success as a city brand. I really liked Barcelona although frankly it's a bit overhyped in my opinion.

View over the city from Montjuïc hill.
Downtown Barcelona is laid out in a grid system according to the Roman model, which was used in many Spanish settlements during the Reconquista of Ferdinand and Isabella. I think this takes away a lot of character of a city since it has a somehow generic feel to it when every street looks exactly alike.
Around Montjuïc hill the streets look vastly different and more unique. Here the urban area develops a certain flair, contrasting the generic city center. It is also typical to see the Catalonian flag hanging from most of the apartments since the Barcelonans see themselves foremost as Catalans and not as Spaniards.
The biggest of the city's beaches, the Barceloneta was listed as number one in a list of the top ten city beaches in the world.

First in today's Gaudí marathon is the Casa Mila or La Pedrera. Constructed in 1910, a revolutionary piece of architecture at the time and from the Barcelonans nicknamed "the Quarry" because of the massive stone façade.
After its completion it was perceived as an exceptionally ugly building by the general public but now, about one hundred years later it stands among the great masterpieces of modernist architecture.
It has some features that were truly groundbreaking at the beginning of the twentieth century such as a self-supporting stone front, floors free of load bearing walls and an underground parking garage.

I started and ended the first day of my trip at Casa Mila, hence one image was taken before sunrise and the other one after sunset. Which one is which can easily be identified by the number of people portrayed. The Spaniards are not exactly known for their early-riseability.

Park Güell is a prime example of Gaudís naturalist phase, meaning that he got a lot of inspiration from natural shapes and patterns.

The terrace offers a wonderful view over the city.
Typical structural solutions of the parks organic style on the Rooftop of the gatehouse.
The bench surrounding the terrace is formed like a sea serpent and is actually quite a lot more comfortable as it looks.

Considered to be Gaudís greatest work, the Sagrada Familia towers above its surrounding buildings. Speaking of towers – only eight of the eighteen planned towers are erected just yet. After completion it will be the tallest church in the world. Construction started in 1882 and is estimated to be finished within the next two decades. Originally it was estimated to take several hundred years – just as it was common for great cathedrals – but the development of new technologies (most importantly computer aided design – CAD and computer numerical control – CNC) has led to a massive speed up in recent years.

The cranes will be a characteristic feature for a couple more years. What appears to be the front of the building actually shows the Passion façade which represents the left side. These are only four of the smaller side towers.
The interior is unlike everything I've ever seen. Again the organic style is clearly visible. When I look at the pillars from below it creates the impression that they grew towards the sky – reminding me of trees branching out on top.
The light coming through the stained glass window creates a unique and stimulating mood.
Geometric details of the interior.
The view from the Nativity side. Only on the last day I discovered this great viewpoint. Unfortunately the sunset was very clouded and boring so the colors were plain ugly – a perfect opportunity for a black and white conversion.
A visit to the gothic quarter is a must when visiting Barcelona.
Top: The former Archives of the Crown of Aragon
Bottom: Carrer del Bisbe
The hole-stained walls of the Plaza de San Felip Neri still bear witness of the events that took place on this now quiet and idyllic square. In 1938 a bomb dropped by Franco´s airborne forces killed 42 people (among them 20 children) that were taking refuge in the church. The square was also the site of countless executions during the Spanish civil war.

Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias – Valencia

The City of Arts and Sciences is probably the most important modern tourist attraction of Spain. It consists of a variety of buildings surrounded by parks within the former riverbed of the rerouted Turia.

El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía. Unfortunately there was some kind of maintenance going on at the time so the water was drained and some cars and containers also don't exactly enhance the image.
El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe
Classic views of L'Hemisfèric. El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía can be seen in the background.
The lower side panels of L'Hemisfèric can be completely opened so that the building together with the reflection will look like an open eye.

To be continued…

I hope you enjoyed the highlights of my trip so far. You can find the second part about Spain here.

Thanks for reading!

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