Barcelona Thursday 12/11/14

Went back to the Cathedral to tour the inside (free in the AM). It’s dedicated to Saint Eulalia who was martyred at age 13 – so they’ve kept 13 geese in the cloister/garden since the 1400s. Plus chickens which roam all over the Nativity scene.

On to the Picasso Museum – no photos allowed. The Museum houses Picasso’s complete 45+ works in tribute to Velasquez’s Las Meninas, from full 10-figure versions to studies of one head.

Next we go through a lovely park with a zoology museum and horticultural hall, to Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf.

And then – The Mediterranean! December, but warm enough for wading. Saw two paddle-boarders in wetsuits and one topless swimmer, but it was only in the 50s. Lots of joggers, bikers, dog-walkers, sand sculptors (pan-handlers with talent), dominoes.

From the beach to the Columbus statue at the foot of the The Ramblas.

On to Gaudi – some of the strangest architecture I’ve ever seen. Starting in the 1870s, Antoni Gaudi began designing buildings (and every detail inside) in Modernista style, based on natural forms. His buildings are all curves, and swirls, undulating patterns, and covered in mosaics. Meanwhile, Frank Lloyd Wright in the US was also basing his architecture on the desire to fit into the natural landscape of the prairie – and he came up with all straight lines, low blocks, and no curves. Did they know of each other’s work? And if so, what did they think of it?

In the Eixample neighborhood you find the Block of Discord – featuring 3 buildings side-by-side, by different Modernista architects, in different flamboyant styles, all with a “can you top this?” vibe. Of course, Gaudi’s Casa Batllo tops it all.

Just up the block from Discord is Gaudi’s Casa Mila (la Pedrera), his 1910 apartment building featuring an interior courtyard, underground garage (who had cars in those days?), elevators, and no load-bearing walls. All undulating, twisting, turning. He even designed nature’s door-handles by squeezing clay in his hand to see what shape it took on – then built those shapes out of brass. You start the tour up on the roof where he built odd shapes and turrets to conceal the chimneys and other functional works – which he shows don’t have to be flat, boring cubes. And metal railings on balconies can look like twisted, knotted rope.

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Finally, night – another protest march, more lights, and food options on the Ramblas. Plus a Joan Miro mosaic on the walkway.

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