Barcelona – Gaudi, Music and Dance Saturday, 12/13/14

Our last day in Barcelona. Spent the morning at Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) church, begun 1882. Gaudi took over the design construction in year 2, and spent the rest of his life working on it, till his death in 1925 when it was about 25% complete. It is still under construction following as much of Gaudi’s designs as possible, and the hope/plan is to complete the church by 2025, the 100th anniversary of his death. It is a jaw-dropping, Gothic/Art-Nouveau behemoth, planned to have 18 towers, with the tallest to be about 500 ft – the height of Boston’s old Hancock Building. That tower, to be in honor of Jesus, will be just shorter than Mont Juic, since Gaudi didn’t want his creation to be higher than God’s own work.

The columns rise, changing shape, and turn into tree branches holding up the roof. The rainbow of stained glass is breathtaking, and not all the windows have their stained glass yet!

Pope Benedict XVI consecrated it in 2010, and the completed parts do function as a church.  The work has been slow due to funding, the Spanish Civil War. Even during his lifetime, Gaudi commented that his Client wasn’t in a hurry.

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Spectacular spectacle – but it brings it out my inner Communist. It’s Gaudi’s tribute to God, and his own God-given genius, but how many poor, hungry people could have been fed for life with what has been spent so far to build this church?

Grabbed a sandwich on the walk away from Sagrada Familia, up to a Modernista hospital.

From there, we took the bus to Park Guell – a Gaudi-designed gated community and park that was a flop at the time – too far from the city center. Now it’s a wonderful green-space respite from the city, with interesting columns and Gaudi’s crazy serpentine, mosaic park bench that wraps around an entire plaza.

Found a fun  open-air market on our walk back to the Metro. Sausage, paella, cheese, candy, soaps, teas, handcrafts, and more… Then back to the hotel to pack.

Headed out for our final night in Barcelona – Finally found the little 12th century Church of Santa Ana, which Rick Steves described as a gem. But we could barely fit inside, let alone tour it, because they were having a Christmas concert – a surprise treat, real local flavor. One of the performing groups was even dressed in traditional flamenco dresses that were probably in their families for years. Delightful! Then on the steps of the Barcelona Cathedral, a group of young folks in Santa hats was singing Feliz Navidad. Then a costumed parade went by!  Crossed the Ramblas to the Ravel neighborhood, and in the Plaza named for the painter Fortuny (whose The Spanish Wedding we saw in the Nacional the day before), we tried Sagarra Restaurant – and had our best meal yet.

Why a late dinner? Because instead of touring the Moderniste Palau de le Musica, we got tickets for the Saturday night Arte Flamenco show! The Palau is Gaudi-esque, lavishly decorated, built between 1905 and 1908 by the architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. We had seats in the front row of the 2nd box immediately to the right of the stage. Live performances are great – live performances up close are the best! The back walls of the stage are decorated with women musicians – half mosaic, half sculpture. Never seen anything like it. But as mesmerizing as the building is, once the dancers started, we only had eyes for them.

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What a performance! What a night! What a city!

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