The Land that Gaudí Built

Park Güell: Have you ever seen a park more whimsical?

Barcelona! Or, as I like to think of it, the land that Gaudí built.

Barcelona was a good place to start my trip, because, if you ask me, going to Europe is like going for a swim in the ocean. You want to ease in slowly and acclimate yourself to the temperature before jumping all the way in.

And, what better place to do that, than in a locale where you actually speak and understand the language? I’m not talking about Catalan, which was fascinating to hear. I’m talking Spanish, of course.

I can’t tell you how helpful it’s been all my life, to know more than one language.  Considering I live in San Diego, and along the US-Mexico border, it’s downright fortuitous that my Venezuelan parents had the foresight to speak to me in their native language. That, plus the fact that I spent some of my youth living in Caracas, sealed the deal, making me, more or less, fluent.

Antoni Gaudí incorporates his love of nature into the design of Park Güell.

Barcelona proved to be an exciting, cosmopolitan city, one that has the most amazing architecture, thanks to the work of Antoni Gaudí, whose name is probably synonymous with the city. We visited some of Gaudí’s most significant works, La Sagrada Familia, Park Güell, and Casa Batlló. I loved them all, but, of the three, my favorite was the park.

Gaudí has a distinct style that is whimsical, colorful and embraces curves all at once. He works with tile in such a bold way that it takes your breath away. His work is a joy to behold. Plus, admission to the park is free and boasts stunning views of the city.

This dragon at the entrance of Park Güell is a popular spot for a photo opp.

Every city I’ve ever visited in Europe has its charm and beauty in terms of its rich art and architecture. But, the structure that nearly made me have a case of the vapors, and brought me to a new height of euphoria, was the Palau de la Música Catalana.

Built in the early 1900’s by architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, I have never seen a more exquisite and dazzling building, both inside and out. Every corner, every column, every speck of space your eye can rest upon–from floor to ceiling–had something unique and

Casa Batlló, commissioned as a private residence.

mesmerizing to take in. This was a building that captured my heart and soul, as no other building ever has. A celebration of Art Nouveau, it is the only concert facility listed as a World Heritage site.

If you have never seen it firsthand, do not wait a second more. Add it to your bucket list. Better yet, pack your bags and go at once!

Luckily, I brought along my trusty camera,  taking well over 2,000 photos throughout my trip. I wanted to document every nook and cranny of each place we visited. I was on a mission to see it all and capture it all for posterity.  Uploading all these photos was almost the end of my computer.  Choosing which to post here, was almost the end of me.  So, I hope you enjoy my photos, and, if you want to see them all, I’ll be hosting a slideshow at my place every night between now and New Year’s Eve. By then, surely, we will have seen all my photos! And, now, without further adieu, Barcelona!

Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia, under construction for over a century.

Detail of La Sagrada Familia.

Exterior of Palau de la Música Catalana, a building that is an homage to music and that bursts forth with magnificent splendor.

Check out the stage inside the Palau de la Música Catalana.

A cafe inside the Palau.

The Palau’s skylight.

The staircase in the Palau reminds me of the staircase in the film, “Titanic.” I”m just saying.

Europe’s population is estimated at 731 million, but if you included all the statues you’d probably have to double that figure. Oh, and I just love statues!

And One More…

I was struck by the charm of this statue, and the way it expresses the innocence and serenity of childhood.

43 thoughts on “The Land that Gaudí Built

  1. Monica, I am Christina’s mom. I want to say thanks for the company. I saw your pictures about Barcelona and the Lennon’s wall. they are terrific. My daughther enjoyed every minute of the trip. Thanks for sharing.

    • Ivonne, Christina was great to travel with! Honestly, I didn’t have time or the wherewithal to plan the trip each day. But Christina would study the guidebooks I brought along, and make a list of what we should see, in what order and how to get there. She’s very resourceful and a wonderful traveling companion. Glad to have her along!

    • So true, Misty. I felt like I was in a fairy tale at times. Barcelona’s art work and architecture is so different from anything else I’ve seen, you said it best. It’s like a fairytale. 😉

  2. I love Barcelona. It’s my second favorite City. I haven’t been back for three years but I am counting the days until the next trip. I agree it was the perfect place to start your trip. How are you coping now that you are back in your local hood? Do you miss the grandeur, the food, the statues, the people? Only asking because that’s what haunts me about the place. Your pictures will give me full and rich dreams. I’m not sure if I should thank you, but …

  3. if this is a dupe, I apologize, but WordPress seemed to “eat” my other one.

    Got such a vicarious thrill, looking at all the gorgeous pictures. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing.

    If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of the Alan Parsons Project album “Gaudi” for some great Gaudi-inspired music,

    • This isn’t a dupe, and I’m so pleased you liked my pix. Thank you! Now, I’m going to have to look for that Gaudi album. Can’t wait to hear what music inspired by him sounds like. Thanks for letting me know about it!

  4. Hey Monica, I spent 3 months in Barcelona my first year at university practicing my Spanish. I loved every minute of it, and schemed and begged my mom to let me stay instead of returning to graduate. She won. But the memories of my time there is etched forever in my mind.
    I had planned to go back last year but time and money wouldn’t allow. I can’t wait to see it again after all these years. Thanks for giving me a glimpse. BTW, my roommate and I stayed with a family who lived pretty close to the Sagrada Familia. And Gaudi, what can I say? He’s simply mesmerizing. I saw this documentary about him a few years back. It about Gaudi and Barcelona. Take a look.

    • Lucky you, that you got to spend 3 months there. I was only there for 3 days! Still, I feel blessed that I got to see as much as I did. It was a whirlwind adventure and so much fun.

  5. I’ve never been to Spain (never been to Europe, in fact). What beautiful photos you’ve posted, Monica! Perhaps you’re telling me I really should travel abroad? If so, then Thank You for a much-needed nudge! And I’m just a wee bit envious over your being fluent in two languages — that had to make your visit so much nicer!

    • Going to Europe was something I did a few years ago in celebration of a milestone birthday. Now, I’ve been there twice. To go, is an experience of a lifetime. Art comes alive there, instilled in everyday life, everywhere you walk. There’s always something to feast your eyes on. I love the fact that I was able to enter the catacombs in Salzburg, built in the fifth century. That totally blew my mind, since I’d never been inside something as old as that, let alone catacombs. Debbie, you’d love it for the churches alone. So striking!

  6. Seeing Gaudi’s work up close has to have the feeling of being in a fairy tale. I myself cannot imagine taking over 2,000 photos but I’m so very very glad for this glimpse into your trip, not to mention the myriad ways I imagine you’ll weave pieces of that summer 2012 photo library into your posts.

    • Thanks, Michael Ann! I almost didn’t go myself. My original plan was to go straight to Austria and meet up with my daughter there. But I had a change of heart, and decided to meet her just as her studies were ended. I’m so glad I did, because it’s such a stunning city!

  7. Barcelona is so on my bucket list. Those Gaudi structures are so magical and whimsical. Your first photo captures them like gingerbread houses, North Pole Villages (only in sweltering heat) with icing for rooftops. What a great post – thank you for the virtual peek. I have a son in Germany for a few years (Air Force). I’m making Barcelona a must see.

    • Glad to hear, Barb. Barcelona is well worth visiting. Glad you like Gaudi’s childlike creativity. It’s fun, unique and very approachable. I could see living in one of his houses, and I’d probably spend a lot of time at that park. It’s got so much charm!

    • I agree, Kim. Absolutely stunning. And you’d love all the leather–shoes and BOOTS! And, purses, too! All made in Italy! Finer goods than these are hard to find.

      Europe. Simply amazing!

  8. Thanks for bringing back wonderful memories, (well mostly wonderful, I was traveling with my ex!) I remember sitting on the serpentine bench in Gaudi’s beautiful park on my first and only trip to Europe right after graduating from SDSU. I think it’s time for another visit – I am ready to pack my bags!

  9. You may have just sealed the deal for my next trip Monica. I have been debating, well, the kids and I have been discussing a few cities we would like to visit again. My husband just follows 🙂 We want to go back to Florence and take a train to other places we didn’t get to see, but Barcelona is high on my chalkboard of travel destinations( I stare at it every single day). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Park Guell and La Sagrada Familia in the last week and thought to myself – I must go. It is for me the city of Gaudi, also Picasso and Joan Miro as well. I love the detail of La Sagrada Familia, they give me goosebumps. Until you get up close, it is impossible to see the exquisite work in place isn’t it? I had not seen Palau De La Musica Catalana before, nor had I seen Casa Batllo. It is such a worthwhile trip. More photos please.

    • Yes, you’re right MM. It is the city of Miro and Picasso as well. In fact, in one of the main shopping areas, there’s a beautiful mosaic created by Miro. I tried to take photos of it, but it’s right on the main way where people walk, a huge circle that when you see it, you know it’s a Miro. I was only in Barcelona barely three days. I can’t imagine how much more I could have seen had I stayed longer. Sigh. It’s definitely worthwhile trip. I hope you go soon!

  10. What an amazingly beautiful place. It’s been on my list for a while, but now definitely a must see! And I can really identify with your thoughts about enjoying places more when you can speak the language. There are so many countries I’d like to visit, but I always want to return to France and Belgium because I can communicate there. It makes travel so much easier. I guess I just need to learn more languages! 🙂

    • Shary, glad you agree that Barcelona is beautiful. I must admit though, I only know one other language, and I would hate for that to limit me to visiting only countries that speak English and/or Spanish. Luckily, I was able to get by in Austria and Prague, without being able to speak those languages. Seven years ago I went to Italy and my Spanish actually came in handy there.

  11. Breathtaking photography, Monica. It seems like you had such a great trip! (*sighs*)

    I agree with you about the second language. Your parents were smart and you are very fortunate! Regrettably I just have a little mish mash of Spanish and French. I took Spanish in jr high and high school, (private middle school= excellent instruction; would have been fluent had they been able to afford keeping me there. NYC public school= repeat of every thing I’d learned in jr high.) Then switched to French in college (which just made me confused b/c is was so much like yet so different from Spanish! Now I speak just a tad of each (but for some reason I’m told my accent in both is pretty good).

    Maybe I’ll do an immersion course one day and then go straight to Barcelona!!

    • Thank you so much, Lisa. Just a simple point and shoot camera, but every once in a while, it takes some nice photos. My parents spoke Spanish in the home, but I didn’t really become fluent until I was sent to live in Venezuela for a year when I was nine. When I finally returned home, I could only speak to my parents in Spanish. Seemed weird to respond to them in English as I once had done.

  12. These structures are beyond breath-taking. They are colorful, bold, and exquisite; each one takes on a life of its own. I long to travel there one day.

    It’s a pleasure meeting you, Monica!


    • The pleasure is all mine, SomerEmpress. I just love your name and your site, and look forward to exploring it more. Barcelona was a wonderful beginning to my two-week adventure. Sigh. Wish I was still there.

  13. A lovely set of pictures Monica, I especially like the first one.
    It’s a very photogenic city.
    Thanks for posting them, looking at them has made a nice start to the day.

    • Thanks, Robert. Glad you like the photos. You are in a great position to visit all the countries I visited on my trip. The train system is pretty comprehensive there. I hope you get to see it all yourself someday. 😉

  14. I’ve never been to Barcelona or Spain, for that matter. What a gorgeous place–and one my Sara, an architect by training, desperately wants to visit. (I have been to Caracas, however.) Thanks, Monica, for sharing these stunning photos!

    • Oh, Kathy, I do hope you and Sara get to go someday. I know you both love to travel and I really think you’ll enjoy the passion of Spain. Someday you’ll have to tell me when you visited Caracas and what you thought of it. My roots run deep there.

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