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The Great Gaudi

May 15, 2014 | Art, Food, France, Spain, Wine
I am utterly gobsmacked; lost for words. My vocabulary is bankrupt. As a writer, this is a disaster. But I can’t help it. I’ve been Gaudied.

On the final day of our Expressions of the Past tour, we visited Güell Park and the Sagrada Familia. Both are creations of Antoni Gaudi, the well-known and rather eccentric Spanish architect. (We’d previously seen a Gaudi creation while in Comillas, Spain.) I understand that Gaudi’s buildings are not everyone’s cup of tea — his designs are pretty weird. But I love them.

Güell Park overlooks Barcelona and the Mediterranean. There are fascinating designs throughout the park, including a tiled, serpentine bench that is surprisingly comfortable to sit on. The bench overlooks the two entrance pavilions, buildings that immediately grab your eye with their peculiar design. It was intriguing, but I wanted the basilica.

I got my wish, and experienced the advantage of a guided tour. After admiring the soaring spires and intricate stone carvings on the outside (and trying to see past the construction to imagine what it will look like when it’s done in 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death), we bypassed the horrendous ticket line and walked straight inside. And our collective jaws dropped — at least for those of us who had not been inside before.

The beauty and majesty…and quirkiness…of the interior are simply impossible to elucidate in a few hundred words. Unlike most churches, there is light — plenty of light — streaming in through the stained glass windows. A beautiful forest of colorful pillars supports the ceiling. The image I chose for this post is part of the ceiling of the nave. I could have picked any one of the several hundred images I shot in the church, including one of the quirkiest sights I think I’ve ever seen: Christ crucified, hovering over the high altar under what appears to be a golden parachute adorned with bunches of grapes. What an incredible imagination Gaudi had.

Naturally I was disappointed that we didn’t have enough time to climb the spires, so I did the next best thing. After our tour, we had a free afternoon. A few blocks from our hotel is Casa Batlló, a building Gaudi redesigned in 1904. The entrance fee was pretty steep, but I didn’t care. More than 90 minutes later, I was sated with Gaudi.

There are so many places in the world that I have yet to see, I’m often reluctant to even think about revisiting any one spot. But I think I need far more time to explore Sagrada Familia than the two hours we had. Now if only I could avoid all those other annoying visitors…

Written by: Paul Deans – TQ Editor

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