Wednesday 13 August 2014

Barcelona, Spain II: Casa Batlló & Sagrada Familia

One can hardly go to Barcelona without visiting Casa Batlló and judging by the longggg queue outside, I'm sure everyone agrees. I did not go in though because I was turned off by the queue. Kind of regretting it now after seeing some photos of the interior.

Casa Batlló is designed by Gaudi who is the first person you will get to know when you land in Barcelona. He was a Modernisme architect who integrated crafts as ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry into his architecture. He also introduced new techniques in the treatment of materials, such as trencadís which involves the use broken ceramic tiles to form colourful mosaics as can be seen on the benches and the dragon sculpture in Park Güell and also on the façade of Casa Batlló.

The walking guide told us that Modernisme architecture incooperates many natural elements into the designs. You can see that the pillars infront of the windows look like bones and the windows themselves resemble open mouths. So this house has two nicknames, "The house of bones" and "The house of yawns". The "Venetian eye mask" balconies are supposed to evoke imageries of the surface of a lake with water lilies, gentle ripples and reflections caused by the glass and ceramic mosaic. (I still see Venetian eye masks..) The roof is arched and was likened to the back of a dragon. Hmm seems like Gaudi really liked dragons. On top of the building is a cross of four arms oriented to the cardinal directions. It is a bulbous, root-like structure that evokes plant life.

The house next to Casa Batlló is also really intriguing but often overlooked. It's called Casa Amatller designed by Cadafalch, another famous Modernisme architect who designed many significant buildings in Barcelona.

Another famous Gaudi architecture. I was pretty disappointed by the exterior of Sagrada Familia. I guess it was mainly due to the unsightly cranes and scaffolding surrounding it. I don't know why but it just looks so run down.. and they are not even repairing it, they are building it. It broke the Guinness World Record as the building under construction for the longest time. No kidding, seeing that it's still under construction since work began in 1882. Our walking guide said that they are definitely not in a hurry to finish it so that they can stay in the Records longer haha. The carvings are stories from the Bible, such as the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus.

I went inside Sagrada Familia after about an hour of standing in the queue. It wasn't that bad because I made a friend in the hostel riiiight before I left for Sagrada Familia. She came up to me and said hi so suddenly I was quite surprised haha. We talked for a bit and she decided to join me so off we went!

We got the student tickets without any add-ons. There is a timing for you to enter, just like the ticket for Park Güell. It was still quite crowded inside despite the attempt to crowd control but I guess it could be worse. The interior was way more impressive than the exterior. I love the tall tinted windows that stretch up to the ceilings! The ceiling was another thing that blew my socks off. How unique is that! I've never seen anything quite like it.. We spent an hour or so inside full of wonder. Gaudi really lives up to his name but he died so unfortunately. He was knocked down by a vehicle one day but because he was dressed so shabbily, people thought he was a homeless beggar and didn't do anything to help him. When someone finally recognized him and sent him to the hospital, it was too late. :( What a tragic tale, the world lost a great architect due to prejudice sigh. Anywayyy, I hope I will get to visit Barcelona again when Sagrada Familia is completed!

I also went to Casa Milà which is apparently the most famous one. It is one of the last buildings of Gaudi's and at this house he broke all arquitectonical taboo and spent a bomb. The owner who was a lawyer didn't want to pay him that much and the two went to court andddd Gaudi won haha. Most unfortunately, the house was under restoration so the facade was covered up. :( On top of the building, you can see these sculptures which look like Darth Raider. Or rather, Darth Raider was perhaps inspired by these sculptures. You can also see them on Sagrada Familia by the way! Try to spot them if you're there. ;) It's on the side where you buy tickets.

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