Reub's journey

09 August 2011

Gaudi in Barcelona

When Antoni Gaudi was handed his certificate upon graduating from the Barcelona Architecture School in 1878, the director commented, "We have given this academic title either to a fool or a genius. Time will show."

 It seems that time has proven him to be a success, because in 2011 work continues on his most iconic structure, the Sagrada Familia, a world heritage site in Barcelona, and one of the most unusual buildings anywhere.

 It's a building that looks like an enormous sand castle, covered with kelp and crawling creatures: I mean this in a good way, of course.

Drawing his inspiration from the living world, I doubt that there is a perfectly straight line anywhere.

The interior of this cathedral is modeled after a towering forest, with the columns resembling branching trees, and the place is surprisingly light.

There are reminders of Gaudi everywhere in Barcelona: buildings, parks, streetlamps, and even the sidewalks have tiles that Gaudi designed after honeycomb.

Organic shapes were his special genius; this is a window in the apartment building La Pedrera ("The Quarry").

The interior courtyard of La Pedrera is painted.

It's little wonder that La Pedrera, completed in 1912, has been both reviled and adored. It's pretty wild up there on the rooftop!

Crazy genius.

And then there is Parc Guell, a large hilltop garden. This is a view from the top of the hill looking out at the expansive city.

Details of a bridge in Parc Guell.

Serpentine mosaic railing, Parc Guell.

I realized, happily, that the mosaic technique used by Gaudi is one that I use with middle school students: it's so fun because you make glazed tiles, smash them, then create something new in the way of a mosaic.

Parc Guell is sheer fantasy and delight. And free.

Free that is, if you can avoid buying trinkets from the many vendors.

I kinda wanted one of these cheesy fans, but took a picture instead. I have a feeling these probably came from China.

Gaudi was the main reason I wanted to go to Barcelona, and he didn't disappoint.


  1. Very interesting. I'm glad your inspiration for going to Barcelona didn't disappoint. That first building is quite unique and my first thought was that it looked like a forest that had the ability to come to life and then you wrote that a forest was his inspiration. Your pictures are wonderful.

  2. love the funkiness of some of these details!

  3. My fave city in all of the World. I lived up by Parc Guell for almost two months and the views are tremendous. Even the walk up the roads was sheer joy, a great form of exercise.

    Gaudi is my favourite architect, he's so off-the-wall and compared to today's modernistic but generally straight-lined design, he stands out even more for his exuberance and total originality.

    So glad you loved Barcelona, so much to offer in that great city


  4. JarieLyn: Gaudi is so interesting. You were smart to notice from the building's exterior that it was tree-like. Crazy.

    TWG: Funky and cool.

    Saul: We thought of you there in Barcelona. Wasthat the neighborhood where your van got broken into? The views were spectacular.


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