Tuesday, November 3, 2015

#1534 2 weeks in Barcelona day 13: Sagrada Familia and Parc de la Ciutadella

I'm a little sad because this is my last post of the days in Barcelona. Day 13 was our last full day there; we left on the 14th day around noon, so there's not too much to say about those last hours before we got on the plane except that we spent them with Sonia and Eric who took us to the airport. By the way...this is a pretty long post with lots of photos.

Saturday 26 September 2015

Lizzie and I had tickets to go inside the Sagrada Familia church in the late morning. Limited numbers of people are let in to the grounds every half hour or so, but once you are in, you can stay as long as you like. Mom decided not to come along with us, so we left her at the apartment and walked to the church, stopping for churros, just like on Thursday, before going in.

There are two facades of the church: the Nativity and the Passion. The Nativity side facade was constructed first. I think that when you first see it, you are kind of overwhelmed because there is so much going on. It's hard to focus on the details.

the Nativity facade

 When you do focus in on the details, however, it's quite beautiful.

Joseph, Mary and Jesus, with the angels in the background

the three wise men come with gifts and angels sing

I like the way everything is rounded and natural. Gaudi was inspired by nature and he uses the inspiration on this side of church and on the inside as well.

The Passion side is very different. It is much newer in construction, and everything is much more severe. The figures do not look human; they are sharp and harsh.

the Crucifixion
more of the Passion facade
If you get closer, though, you can see the beauty. Here are two of may favorite scenes.

Judas kiss
The Judas Kiss sculpture is so intimate, with Judas reaching up to Jesus' face. I like the detail of the snake in the lower right corner. The cryptogram that you see to the left is remarkable. There are 16 numbers on the cryptogram and there are 310 combinations of numbers that each add up to 33, Jesus' age at his death. That's cool.

St. Peter
I'm blown away by the sadness of this statue. It's so simple, but so powerful to me. This is one of my favorite photos.

Jesus at the whipping post
I like this, too. The door you see on the right has hundreds of biblical words on it, some of them are highlighted. In this photo, you can see the phrase "I que es la veritat?" which means "And what is the truth?" I don't consider myself especially spiritual or of any particular faith. I think it's important to question and decide for yourself what the truth is.

That door with the hundreds of words is nothing short of remarkable. In addition to the words that leap out because they are highlighted, there are so many other phrases that catch your attention. I could stare at the doors for a long time.

The inside of the basilica is breathtaking. For one thing, it's huge both in length and in height. Gaudi designed the columns to look like trees so you feel like you are in a forest (remember, he loved nature.)

looking toward the altar

the columns
Sometimes I would be looking up at the ceiling so far above me and I would get a little dizzy when I looked back down. It's massive and intricate and detailed and beautiful.

From the outside of the church, you can see windows, but you would not guess from the outside what the windows look like inside. When I first walked in to the basilica and saw the windows, I literally lost my breath for a moment.

I have many photos of the stained glass, but none of them do justice to how gorgeous it all is. The colors and the way the light filters in through the glass is amazing. And we were there on a kind of cloudy day. I just wanted to sit in that light and be glad. I'm including this next photo not because I look so great, but it's the closest I could find to showing how pretty the light was coming in through the windows.

I don't know how much time we spent in the church, but it was a good couple of hours. I didn't want to leave, but I felt like there wasn't anything else that I could get that day. I was full. That probably doesn't make any sense. I guess what I mean is that after those couple of hours, I was overwhelmed by it all and it was time to move on.

Lizzie and I had seen many photos of the church from across a lake or something, so we decided we had to find the lake. On each of the facade sides of the church is a park. We knew the lake wasn't on the Passion side park, so we went to the Nativity side park. We were kind of underwhelmed by the lake. It didn't look very pretty. Maybe it was the overcast day or the green water, but I didn't love it.

What I do like about this photo is that you can clearly see the age of the Nativity facade and the new construction to the left. That's where the stained glass is. The church isn't done being built. I think I saw something recently in the news that 2026 is the targeted completion date. I'll be 60 in 2026. I want to get back to Barcelona before the church is completed and again when it is complete. It is one of my favorite things to see in the city.

We finally walked back to our apartment and Mom was ready to go out. Lizzie really wanted to see the Arc de Triomf and Mom said that it was just down the street from where we were on Passeig de Sant Joan. Mom wanted to take a taxi but there were no taxis to be found, so we started walking. A fun family thing is that we passed by Plaza Tetuan which is where my grandmother lived with her sisters and where my mom's godmother lived until her old age. And then we were at the Arc de Triomf.

The Arc was built in 1888 when Barcelona hosted the Universal Exhibition. It's a gateway to the Parc de la Ciutadella which is a big green grassy area where people have picnics, drum circles, hookah circles, relax etc. It's a neat place and there are cool old buildings around too, including, you guessed it, a place where my mom went to school. No not really, but she did take some examinations for school there. Also in the park, the zoo. We didn't go in it though. I used to love that zoo when I was little. There was an albino gorilla in there named Snowflake. He often smeared poo on the window. The things you remember.

Another interesting thing in the park is a giant fountain, la cascada. And guess what? Gaudi may or may not have contributed to it's design.

The fountain was also built for the Universal Exhibition.

I should say here that we didn't plan our meal times very well on this day. When we got back from the Sagrada Familia, we should have stopped to eat, but we were all about getting to the park and when we got there, we were all feeling a little hangry. Sadly, it was past lunchtime and most of the bars and cafes were only serving drinks and not food. We got a cab back to Carrer d'Arago and stopped at a bar that was kitty-corner from the apartment called Snack 55.  I thought it would be good because the night before we had walked past it and the tables were all full, always a good sign.

Snack 55 was serving food and drinks, so we had sangria de cava and a bunch of tapas - we were hungry! A bonus part is that the Barca game was on TV, so we were able to watch the end of the match. In fact, that's why we couldn't get a taxi earlier; all the taxis were at and around Camp Nou taking people to the match.

After we ate, we went back to the apartment to pack and clean up and wait for Sonia and Eric. They got there around 9:45. We went to Enrique Tomas for a sandwich, but the kitchen was closed! What the heck? It was only 10 pm! What do they mean the kitchen is closed?! We ended up a sub-standard place across the street. We should have gone back to Snack 55. I would count the last place we ate as a regret since it was merely all right. Oh well.

So there you go. If you've stuck with me, you know just about everything we did while we were in Catalunya. I loved everything about the trip and most especially being with my mom and sister and getting reacquainted with my cousin Sonia. It is my fondest wish to go back to Barcelona sometime before another 27 years has passed. I would love to take MT and T there and show them all around that beautiful city. I don't know if it will happen, but it's good to dream about it. Barcelona is truly one of my favorite places in the world.

1 comment:

Kteach said...

Loved your photos and stories about Sagrada Familia, I never was inside the newer paert of the church and I misssed seeing the awesome windows.
And I felt the same way when I finished writing about our trip, but I am so glad you both loved Barcelona as much as I do :)