Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Once upon a time, I conceived the mad idea to retrace a part of the medieval pilgrimage route through Northern Spain, throwing in a few days in Barcelona, a junket to the shopping mall known as the country of Andorra, and a ramble across the Pyrenees for good measure. In September 2006, a friend and I and 40 strangers set off on an eventful (not always in a good way...) journey from Barcelona to Madrid...

Barcelona is encrusted with examples of Catalan 'modernisme,' its own special brand of Art Nouveau. Its streetscapes are enhanced by florid streetlamp standards with benches at the foot and pavement in relief patterns.

The Barri Gotic

Founded by the Romans during the reign of Augustus, the Gothic Quarter is the oldest part of Barcelona, with narrow little streets and surprising building ornamentation.

Palau de la Musica Catalana

The Barri Gothic's jewel is the Catalan music palace, designed by Lluis Domenech i Montaner in 1908 on the site of an old monastery. It's a wedding-cake fantasy of a building.

Barcelona streetscapes

Its streetscapes and buildings are endlessly fascinating, especially for an historic preservation and architecture fan like me...

Endlessly fascinating...

I believe I did say "endlessly..."

Barcelona Cathedral

The Cathedral, begun in 1298 was not finished until the early 20th century; it's a haven of peace and Gothic excess.

And if you walk in off the street through any interesting and open doorway, hidden jewels await.

La Sagrada Familia

Antoni Gaudi i Cornet (1852-1926) is the most famous of all Catalan architects (all Spanish architects of any period, more likely) and La Sagrada Familia (The Sacred Family) is his best known building. Begun in 1884, it is still being built today, financed by public subscription.

Gaudi's vision for the church was that it should be organic and celebrate nature's forms; these details show some of the ways he achieved that vision.

Casa Battlo

Sinuous, iridescent, and organic to the bone, Casa Battlo (1904-06) is sheer Gaudian confectionary.

Its interior details are even more fanciful than its exterior.

Only a roof like this could top Casa Battlo! Not only that, it provides a vantage point for admiring the water tower of nearby Casa Morera...