How one master artist defines Barcelona for me
I am in love with Barcelona – the vibe of the city, the people, the food, the plazas, the markets, even the chaos of animals, artists, and tourists on Las Ramblas. Wandering the streets, flitting from church to café and getting miserably lost on the subway is one of my favorite ways to spend a day. But one thing stands out to me above all else, one things keeps me coming back to this coastal metropolis in eastern Spain time and time again: a man named Antoni Gaudí. I am not alone in this feeling, as Gaudí’s architectural creations are among the most well known in the world and modern era, not to mention that La Sagrada Familia is the most
visited in the entirety of the city.
The first time I saw his brilliant works, I stood in awe, gasping at the way in which Gaudí redefined architecture. He infused such spirit, innovation, and meaning into something as simple as a building, a true artistic pioneer.
Casa Mila was the first of Gaudí’s masterpieces that I visited. Approaching the building, it is remarkable to note how it stands out amid an otherwise standard urban architectural setting. Its curves, lines, and fluidity evokes Dalí’s clocks and leads my mind to notions of warped realities and the manipulation of that which we may view as concrete, fixed. Even the rooftop exterior is wondrous, as are the stairwells and corners where two walls come together. I was struck by these details, the ways in which viewers and visitors today can see the extraordinary attention which Gaudí paid to each and every element of his craft, ensuring that even the smallest nuances of the structure were accounted for and approached in his distinct manner.
Parque Güell was another marvel. It felt as if I were walking through a fantasy land, discovering the new and unexpected with each new pathway. Even with the masses of tourists that visit Gaudi’s works all year round, I still felt that magic; it is inescapable and unmatched elsewhere in the world.
And there are no words that capture the grandeur and impact of the Sagrada Familia (pictured here). The fact that such a structure is still being built in 2011 is a feat in it of itself. Its towers and archways are reminiscent of centuries ago, yet its style is wholly unique. 130 years after construction began, this monument is still a work-in-progress, though one which I, like so many others, enjoy visiting immensely. Sitting in the shadow of the towers during pre-crowd early mornings is not to be missed. It is a phenomenal cathedral by any and all measures.
I wrote this, immediately after my first visit:
Para mí, lo bonito de la Sagrada Familia es la creatividad de la arquitectura que viene de la combinación de fe y naturaleza. Al contrario de su grandiosidad y altura marvillosa, todavía tiene detalles magníficos. Gaudí desafió los estándares actuales que el estilo gótico ya no es utilizado; inventó su propia obra inconfundible. A causa de su fascinación con combinaciones impares, pero brillantes, usó torres de piedra que se parecen a castillos de arena, sobrepasadas por tazones de uvas moradas con columnas de árboles adornados con flores y hojas. Después de estudiar y ver la Sagrada Familia, puedo decir sinceramente que Gaudí creó una obra maestra absolutamente alucinante.
This still rings true in my mind today. The way in which he is able to combine modernity with the classical, tradition or religion with striking originality, geometry with nature amazes me. Gaudí’s style is unmistakably individual. For me, Barcelona is so culturally and artistically rich because of his prolific and genius contributions to its cityscape, as well as his lasting influence into the present day.