Barcelona with Qatar Airways - Gaudi's Sagrada Familia and Park Guell - Alvinology

Barcelona with Qatar Airways – Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia and Park Guell

Gaudi's Sagrada Familia
Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia

In Barcelona, it is hard not to be captivated by one of the unique buildings designed by Spanish Catalan architect Gaudi.

Antoni Gaudí i Cornet (25 June 1852 – 10 June 1926) is from Reus and the best known practitioner of Catalan Modernism. Gaudí’s works are very distinctive and hard to miss. They remind me of scenes seen in video games like the popular RPG series, Final Fantasy.

Most of his works are located in Barcelona, including the grandest, which is Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (or Sagrada Família in short). I managed to visit Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, during my trip to Barcelona with Qatar Airways earlier this year.

Via wikipedia: 

Gaudí’s work was influenced by his passions in life: architecture, nature, and religion. Gaudí considered every detail of his creations and integrated into his architecture such crafts as ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry.

Under the influence of neo-Gothic art and Oriental techniques, Gaudí became part of the Modernista movement which was reaching its peak in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His work transcended mainstream Modernisme, culminating in an organic style inspired by natural forms. Gaudí rarely drew detailed plans of his works, instead preferring to create them as three-dimensional scale models and molding the details as he conceived them.

Gaudí’s work enjoys global popularity and continuing admiration and study by architects. Between 1984 and 2005, seven of his works were declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. Gaudí’s Roman Catholic faith intensified during his life and religious images appear in many of his works. This earned him the nickname “God’s Architect” and led to calls for his beatification.

Our tour guide for the trip told us that every time he visits Sagrada Família, it looks a little different as it is still under construction. The stunning uniqueness and complexity of the buildings draw many visitors from around the world and it continues to be the most-visited monument in Spain.

On 7 November 2010, the church of La Sagrada Familia was solemnly dedicated and declared a basilica by the Holy Father Benedict XVI and became a holy place open for worship.

In 1882, the foundation stone of a project conceived by Francisco de Paula del Villar, the first architect of the church, was laid. A year and a half later, Gaudi took over the work and turned the initial project around to create, over forty-three years, an outstanding, innovatory church which is still being built today according to his models.

Now that the naves have been closed, the church consists of 4,500 square metres where 8,000 people can worship. The construction is past the halfway stage and is ready to raise the four towers dedicated to the evangelists, the tower dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the highest, erected at the centre of the crossing, which will recall the figure of Jesus, the four bell towers on the Glory facade.

Check out some of the pictures I took at Sagrada Familia (bear in mind that it will look different again when you visit it):

The majestic Sagrada Familia
The majestic Sagrada Familia
Still under construction
Still under construction
Intricate sculptures inside the arches
Intricate sculptures inside the arches
From another angle
From another angle
Biblical tales unfold on the walls
Biblical tales unfold on the walls
The opposite view of the building from the back
The opposite view of the building from the back
Finishing the towers
Finishing the towers
More angular designs
More angular designs
Closer look
Closer look
Christ
Christ
Catholic nuns on the wall
Catholic nuns on the wall
The entrance
The entrance
Jesus in gold letters
Jesus in gold letters
Inside the building
Inside the building
The church within
The church within
An exquisite lamp
An exquisite lamp
Beautiful and strange beyond words
Beautiful and strange beyond words
Group picture
Group picture
I love how the tinted glasses illuminates the interior in a variety of colours with just sunlight
I love how the tinted glasses illuminates the interior in a variety of colours with just sunlight
Sunset is beautiful from within the building
Sunset is beautiful from within the building
The tinted glasses
The tinted glasses
This side it's red and orange
This side it’s red and orange
Some windows are left clear
Some windows are left clear
The majestic, interior ceilings and supporting pillars
The majestic, interior ceilings and supporting pillars
Closer look at the ceiling
Closer look at the ceiling
Another picture of the ceiling
Another picture of the ceiling
More pictures of the interior
More pictures of the interior
Floor plan
Floor plan
One last look at the fantasy-like building interior
One last look at the fantasy-like building interior
Constructions everywhere. It will look different again when you visit.
Constructions everywhere. It will look different again when you visit.
Scale model of how Sagrada Familia will look like when fully completed
Scale model of how Sagrada Familia will look like when fully completed
The workshop in Sagrada Familia where actual architects and craftsmen work to finish the property
The workshop in Sagrada Familia where actual architects and craftsmen work to finish the property
Models of the buildings
Models of the buildings
Small models
Small models
Sketches by Gaudi
Sketches by Gaudi
How Gaudi conceptualises his work with threads and model
How Gaudi conceptualises his work with threads and model
Gaudi's method of stress-testing the roof structures of his designs, using a smaller replicate
Gaudi’s method of stress-testing the roof structures of his designs, using a smaller replicate
Sunflowers, among many natural objects that inspire Gaudi
Sunflowers, among many natural objects that inspire Gaudi
An exhibition on where Gaudi draws his inspirations from, mostly from nature
An exhibition on where Gaudi draws his inspirations from, mostly from nature
This shape, seen in some of the gates, is inspired by ferns
This shape, seen in some of the gates, is inspired by ferns
Inspiration for the towers
Inspiration for the towers

Park Guell has a more intimate and casual feel. Less of the holy, grand charm that Sagrada Familia exudes. Walking around in the park feels like a trip into a fantasy video game or Alice’s Wonderland:

Upon entering Park Guell, you will see these two iconic buildings which were originally conceived as the porter's lodge of estate.
Upon entering Park Guell, you will see these two iconic buildings which were originally conceived as the porter’s lodge of estate.
At the entrance of Park Guell
At the entrance of Park Guell
The iconic lizard at the entrance
The iconic lizard at the entrance
Seen from behind a shrub
Seen from behind a shrub
This building reminds me of the gingerbread house in the Hansel and Greta fairy tale
This building reminds me of the gingerbread house in the Hansel and Greta fairy tale
Planes zipping across the sky
Planes zipping across the sky
Nature Square - meant for holding of open-air shows.
Nature Square – meant for holding of open-air shows.
These undulating benches were planned by Josep Maria Jujol between 1910 and 1914. They are made from prefabricated blocks of concrete clad with tile-shard mosaic and cylindrical pieces of pottery.
These undulating benches were planned by Josep Maria Jujol between 1910 and 1914. They are made from prefabricated blocks of concrete clad with tile-shard mosaic and cylindrical pieces of pottery.
Wonderland-like, surreal feel
Wonderland-like, surreal feel
There are lizards behind the benches
There are lizards behind the benches
Buildings on the square
Buildings on the square
View of Park Guell from the square
View of Park Guell from the square
View of the city from Nature Square
View of the city from Nature Square
Hypostyle Room - conceived of as a covered space which, among other uses, could serve as a market for the estate. The regular layout of the dense colonnade is interrupted at certain sections to create three open spaces, one larger central one and two smaller ones, like the naves of a church.
Hypostyle Room – conceived of as a covered space which, among other uses, could serve as a market for the estate. The regular layout of the dense colonnade is interrupted at certain sections to create three open spaces, one larger central one and two smaller ones, like the naves of a church.
Honeycomb-like shapes
Honeycomb-like shapes
The ceiling is formed of small domes built using the Catalan vault technique, clad with tile shards and with soffits laid out like a keystone.
The ceiling is formed of small domes built using the Catalan vault technique, clad with tile shards and with soffits laid out like a keystone.
An octopus on the ceiling
An octopus on the ceiling
Metal gates, with shapes of ferns
Metal gates, with shapes of ferns
The Portic de la Bugadera (Portico of the Washerwomen) which ends in a spiral ramp with helicoidal columns.
The Portic de la Bugadera (Portico of the Washerwomen) which ends in a spiral ramp with helicoidal columns.
Closer look at the columns
Closer look at the columns
This tree stump was intentionally left behind and integrated into the design
This tree stump was intentionally left behind and integrated into the design
The structure from afar
The structure from afar
A highly Gaudian iron gate leads into the gardes of the former farmhouse, the Casa Larrard.
A highly Gaudian iron gate leads into the gardes of the former farmhouse, the Casa Larrard.
The estate has plenty of greens
The estate has plenty of greens

When construction of Park Guell began in 1900, Barcelona was a modern and cosmopolitan metropolis. Eusebi Güell i Bacigalupi, 1st Count of Güell (15 December 1846 – 8 July 1918) was a Catalan entrepreneur who profited greatly from the industrial revolution in Catalonia in the late 19th century. he entrusted to Gaudi, the plan to create an estate for well-off families in a large property that Guell had acquired in the zone, known popularly as the Muntanya Pelada (bare mountain). The property has an amazing location to this day – with splendid views over the sea and the Plain of Barcelona.

The relationship between Guell and Guadi was not simply one of artist and patron, but a true story of friendship. Gaudi undertook a profound urban-planning reflection in order to lend form to the whole, submerging himself in a strange process of artistic creation.

Guell chose to halt the work in 1914. Upone his death, his heirs offered the property to Barcelona City Council, which decided to acquire it in 1922 and then opened it as a public park four years later. The site was declared a Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 1984 by UNESCO and is a popular tourist destination.

In total, 14 basic works of Gaudi can be seen in Barcelona. These are:

  1. Streetlamps of the Placa Reial, 1988.
  2. Casa Vicens, 1883-88.
  3. Pavilions for the stables of the Finca Guell, 1884-87.
  4. Palau Guell, 1886-88.
  5. School of the Teresianes, 1888-89.
  6. Casa Calvet, 1898-99.
  7. Church of the Colonia Guell. Project started in 1898 and was continued in different stages until 1917.
  8. Casa Bellesguard, 1900-09.
  9. The Park Guell, 1900-14.
  10. Miralles Door, 1901-02.
  11. Casa Batllo, 1904-06.
  12. Casa Mila, 1906-12.
  13. Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, 1883-1926.
  14. Temporary schools for the children of the neighbourhood, next to the temple of Sagrada Familia, 1909.

I saw five of these and visited two. They were sufficient for me to fall in love with Guadi’s works. His iconic parabolic arches, spiral chimneys, curved walls and roofs are all geometrical shapes which we can find abundantly in his architecture designs and that come from natural structures like the bones of the animal kingdom and the branches of the trees of the plant kingdom. While the buildings may appear fantasy-like, they are inspirations from nature and represent what man and nature are capable of achieving, working hand-in-hand. Beautiful.

To travel to Barcelona from Singapore, do consider flying with Qatar Airways with a stopover at Doha, Qatar at very competitive prices. :)

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