Saturday, April 1, 2017

Barcelona bucket list

Exterior detail of Basílica de la Sagrada Famila in Barcelona

This is our second trip to Barcelona and in our two days here I manage to check off two-and-a-half items on my Barcelona must-see list. On Day 1 we take a self-guided tour of Sagrada Famila, Antoni Gaudí's not-quite-finished-yet masterpiece. Day 2 includes a guided tour of Paula de la Música Catalana. But our plans to ride a funicular up Mount Tibidabo are thwarted by winter.

Basílica de la Sagrada Famila

Antoni Gaudí's reputation was already established when he took over the design and coordination of Sagrada Famila in 1883. For the next 43 years, he continued to work on the temple while at the same time designing other projects. From 1914 until his death in 1926, Gaudí focused his energies exclusively on Sagrada Famila. Even today, work continues on the project that is expected to be completed by 2026.

Looking up at the ceiling of Sagrada Famila

Canopy and Christ above the altar at Sagrada Famila

Gaudí is buried in Our Lady of Mount Carmel chapel in Sagrada Famila.

Gaudí was inspired by Holy Scriptures and nature as he designed the massive Sagrada Famila. The church is a festival of light, color and geometric form, like no other place on Earth. For a detailed description and explanation, visit the Sagrada Famila website here.

Exterior detail of the Passion Facade of Basílica de la Sagrada Famila

Exterior detail of the Nativity Facade at Basílica de la Sagrada Famila

Catalan Palace of Music

Built in the early years of the 20th century, the Catalan Palace of Music, or Paula de la Música Catalan, is considered to be one of the finest examples of Catalan Art Nouveau style. In order to compensate for the lack of light in the Ciutat Vella neighborhood in which the concert hall was built, the metal structure is topped with a great glass ceiling, and stained-glass windows surround the auditorium. It is the only music hall in Europe that is illuminated by natural light during the day.

Exterior of Paula de la Música Catalan in Barcelona

Guided tour of the Paula de la Música Catalan

Exterior detail of Paula de la Música Catalan

We arrive about an hour in advance of the 11 a.m. guided tour, buy our tickets and stroll the neighborhood before meeting our group. The tour starts with an interesting and well-done video explaining the history of the building and highlighting the amazing range of performers who have taken the stage. Some familiar names: Leonard Bernstein, Duke Ellington, Keith Jarrett, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Allen and Norah Jones. The music palace presents about 300 performances each year.

Staircase inside Paula de la Música Catalan

Stained-glass skylight in the concert hall of Paula de la
Música Catalan

Eighteen 'muses' form a semi-circle around the stage at  the
Paula de la Música Catalan


During our first visit to Barcelona in 2014, I took one of my favorite photos; I was on a tour bus in the Tibidabo neighborhood and my trusty Fuji was able to capture a shot of the Ferris wheel atop the mountain. Ever since, I've wanted to return and see that century-old amusement park close up, as well as take in the view from the highest peak in the Collserola mountain range on the northwest edge of Barcelona.

Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor and the Ferris wheel at Parc d'Attracions
on Tibidabo mountain in Barcelona

Today, however, because it's a winter weekday, the funicular doesn't run and we are stranded at the bottom. The mansions lining the street are lovely and I am consoled by knowing I am walking the streets with which I became familiar by reading Carlos Ruiz Zafon's novels.

Mansion along Tibidabo Avenue in Barcelona 

Mansion along Tibidabo Avenue in Barcelona 

Random Barcelona

Our pair of days in Barcelona includes countless sites, smells and tastes in addition to the three attractions above. I can't pass up the chance to share a few more odds and ends.

We spot these green moving tubular things at the market, Later we find out
they are razor clams (
navajas or navallas), popular in Galician cuisine.

Flamenco dresses in a Barcelona shop window

Angelic gargoyle on San Pedro church in Barcelona

Small Barcelona plaza at dusk

Yeah ... I'm not a big fan of graffiti either.

Three previous Away to Live blog posts about Barcelona and all my stories about Spain can be found here.

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