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Gaudi

I have already written how Barcelona exceeded my expectations.  While planning our trip, one of the things that I was looking forward to seeing the most in Barcelona was the architecture of Gaudi.  I am a huge fan of interesting and historically important architecture.  I still lament the fact that I did not spend the time in middle and high school studying math since I would have loved to be an architect.  Not that I regret the path my life has taken, but whenever I have played the hypothetical “what would be your dream job” game, my answer is almost always architect.

While looking at one of the numerous Gaudi designed buildings scattered around Barcelona, I overheard a tour guide claiming that Barcelona has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other city in the world.  All of Gaudi’s buildings are on the World Heritage list. We spent a day in Barcelona seeing as many of these as we could.  This made for a lot of walking, more than I think we realized when we set off.  Upon discovering how convenient the subway was the following day we were a bit disappointed that we spent as much time walking as we did, it would have been better spent seeing a few more places instead of spending the time getting from one place to the next.
Gaudi’s master work is arguably the Sagrada Familia.  Construction started in 1882 and is still not completed.  Even though his plans for the cathedral were partially destroyed during the Spanish Civil War, his vision is still evident throughout the building.  Anyone that has spent much (or any) time in Europe has probably visited a number of cathedrals.  Most are impressive, though in my travels few stand out above the rest.  The Sagrada Familia is one that does.  This unique, imposing structure really demonstrates what can happen when an architect thinks outside of the box.  The structure is unmistakably a cathedral, but inside there is so much to see, so many unique details that are not found in other cathedrals.  I was even willing to challenge my fear of heights with an elevator ride up one of the spires to see some of the internal structure as well as a view out over Barcelona.  This is a must visit site in Barcelona and well worth the time to explore every corner of the building.
Before visiting the Sagrada Familia we walked by Casa Mila and Casa Batllo, two private residences that Gaudi designed.  Due to the high cost of entering we decided to just see the outside instead of taking the tours.  This still offered plenty to see.  Gaudi was not shy about using mosaics and unusual shapes to decorate the facades of his buildings.  His works represent some of the most prominent examples of Modernism or Art Nouveau architecture.  
Following the cathedral we started to walk uphill, making our way to Park Guell, an unfinished masterpiece.  This park is set high above the city and features a curving mosaic bench that has become one of the most famous places in Barcelona.  The beautiful day brought huge crowds to the park but we were still able to find some space to enjoy the park.  Park Guell offers a different side to Gaudi’s work, though walking through the park there is no question that Gaudi designed it.The following day I decided that I still had not had my fill of Gaudi and convinced Teph to return to Casa Mila.  This time we took the subway since our feet were still sore from the day before.  After ascending the stairs we were greeted by almost human shaped smokestacks, stairway exits covered in mosaic and a view over Passage Gracia, one of the main shopping areas in Barcelona.  Inside the apartment we were able to take a restored look at what the apartments looked like in the early 20th century.

The architecture in Barcelona is fantastic, and I would argue that Gaudi is the cities biggest star.  His building showcase how interesting building can be when a creative genius is allowed to design something different from the norm.

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