Saturday, February 13, 2010
Barcelona originated as a Roman city and is more than 2000 years old. Facing the Mediterranean, it is the capital of the Autonomous Community of Catalonia. What this means is that they have their own language and those living here almost consider themselves to be separate from Spain. Rivalry with Madrid is legendary. The municipality is home to 5 million.
The whole area experienced a new birth of modernity after the 1992 Summer Olympics. This could well be the most fascinating city in the world, at least the equal of New York, London, Tokyo, Shanghai and San Francisco. At one time Paris ruled cuisine. Today, with El Bulli (#1), Mugaritz (#4) and El Cellar de Can Roca (#5), this area is now the epicurean center. (When I am in Copenhagen, I'll be dining at Noma, which is #3.) El Bulli only opens during the second half of the year, and the other two are in Girona and San Sebastian.
While home to Picasso, Dali and Miro, the city is identified by the moderniste architecture, especially by Antoni Gaudi. These are the photos I took:
Park Guell was Gaudi's housing development. As soon as I stepped off the bus, it began to snow. The tour was uncomfortably cold.
We then went to the iconic Sagrada Familia, a privately funded Catholic Church that began construction in 1882, but the first architect was replaced by Gaudi in 1883. It should be finished in 2026, or, maybe 2050-60, or, perhaps, never. You can see the cranes above.
Why has it taken so long? Wars, lack of funding, whatever.
The amorphous shape changes character at different viewing angles. The external walls are actually all sculptures and works of art depicting The Bible.
Yes, after 128 years, this church has not been used once. However, the current director promises services as soon as July.
If you look inside the church, nothing is ready. Someday, it will sit 6000. All the windows will feature stained glass, and some of this is already in place.
Other stops included the fish sculpture of Frank Gehry (he designed the Bilbao Guggenheim) marking the start of Olympic Port area. From an angle way to the right, the black ball becomes the eye.
From a tourist blurb, Torre Agbar, lovingly known as the "suppository," just basically houses a water company. Then below a view of Barcelona from Montjuic:
Unfortunately, those oranges are inedible. The Valencia orange, though, does come from Spain, by way of India.
Tropical Cyclone Rene slammed into America Samoa, and is now at 105 MPH. You will hear more about this storm.