Monday, November 23, 2009

Gaudi's Barcelona

Gaudi's style is the perfect definition for Barcelona's dynamic and unique culture
Antoni Gaudi was an architect ahead of his time. Born in 1852, his modernist designs, inspired by nature, are in a class of their own and have had a distinct impact on Barcelona - his work can be seen all over the city. Gaudi's original style relied more on nature than on geometric forms or influences from other artists and architects as a result of his life experiences. We had the opportunity to visit a few of his most famous works.

(If you want more Gaudi, check out the Gaudi page on Artsy)

Sagrada Familia
Gaudi's most famous work, La Sagrada Familia was left incomplete when he died at age 72 after being hit by a tram in 1926 - and it is still under constuction today. Gaudi devoted the last part of his life to this work, living in the crypt. A devout Catholic, Gaudi designed the church to be highly symbolic.

He planned to have eighteen total towers; twelves for the apostles, four for the evangelists, one for the Virgin Mary and one - the tallest - to represent Christ. However, this tower representing Christ would be 170m - one meter less than Montujic, a hill in Barcelona - because Gaudi believed his work should not surpass God's. Additionally, there are three facades to the Latin-cross shaped church representing the Nativity (east), the Glory (south) and the Passion (west).

Parc Guell
Gaudi's most ambitious project after La Sagrada Familia, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is named after Count Eusebi Guell, an rich industrialist who became Gaudi's patron. Built upon a hill overlooking the city, the park was originally meant to be a gated community of 60 houses for Barcelona's wealthier residents. However, only two houses were built and the project flopped so the city purchased the land and turned it into a municipal park in 1922.

Upon entering, there is a large staircase leading to the column-filled marketplace supporting the city square above. In the city square, ergonomically correct (and extremely comfortable!) benches, colorfully tiled, line the perimeter. Not wanting to disturb the nature, Gaudi decided not to level the terrain so the roads going through the "city" are a twisting network following the contours of the land. Pieces of art, tiled aqueducts and other cool sights dotted the park.  For more photos click here.

Casa Batllo
This building appears almost organic and alive - many think it resembles a dragon. With colorful tiles ranging from oranges to blues, rounded forms and a "spine" on the roof, this building was definitely cool!

Casa Mila (aka "La Pedrera")

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