Musings Abroad-My Life in Spain: Antoni Gaudí

Gaudí disliked straight lines and paid special attention to a building's angles, such as the pictured Casa Vicen (Photo Credit: Anna Groeling).
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There are 7 Antoni Gaudí properties that are considered UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the pictured Casa Vicens (Photo Credit: Anna Groeling).

In October I visited one of Spain’s quirkiest cities. My parents were in Spain for the week and together we decided to visit Barcelona, a city that’s known for its architecture.

The Antoni Gaudí buildings aren’t trying to hide from the urban landscape that they’re built around; they couldn’t be more eye-catching or unmistakable. We had only been in Barcelona for a short time when we came across Casa Vicens, a residence made of cast-iron and juxtaposing pieces of ceramic and glass. Casa Vicens was built for a family that was in the ceramic industry, so it’s only fitting that Gaudí designed it as his first major building project. Casa Vicen is an appropriate introduction to the works and character of Antoni Gaudí.  With only the weekend to discover Barcelona, Casa Vicens felt like the right place to begin our morning.

Afternoon light floods through the stained glass at La Sagrada Família (Photo Credit: Anna Groeling).

Our sights for the day were set on Gaudí’s unfinished cathedral: La Sagrada Família. The church won’t be completed until 2026, its construction far out-living its designer. Gaudí created the cathedral’s large pillars to resemble gigantic trees, with the ceiling shaped like a canopy of leaves. This balance between elements unifies Gaudí’s vision. La Sagrada Família’s interior changes with the sun, as the stain glass was designed to pour colored light into the church. Gaudí would even analyze plants to better understand how to incorporate them into his designs.

These famous benches from Park Güell were constructed by using a worker’s back, giving it a comfortable and ergonomic structure (Photo Credit: Anna Groeling).

Park Güell, another one of Gaudí’s works, can only be described as whimsical and dream-like. It’s fame comes with with high crowds. Although thought-provoking and playful, the park sometimes felt like the city’s entire population was trying to cram into one area. Luckily there are long winding trails that offers far-reaching views of Barcelona. Park Güell reaches high above the city. If any further inspiration is needed when walking the paths, it can be found with the Flamenco dancers and musicians. Despite the crowds, Park Güell makes it very easy to adore Barcelona. Casa Vicens, La Sagrada Família and Park Güell come with their own character and spirits. Park Güell seemed to be the epitome of the architect’s goal: to create harmony between architecture and nature.

Not to mention, Park Güell has gingerbread houses and a ceramic dragon that guards one of its entrances. Or is it a lizard? I’ll leave it up to interpretation.

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