April 29 and 30, 2016 — Barcelona, Spain

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the flag of Spain

Spain is a country located in Southern Europe, with two small enclaves in North Africa, Ceuta and Melilla (both bordering Morocco). Spain is a democracy which is organized as a parliamentary monarchy. It is a developed country with the ninth-largest economy in the world. It is the larger of two sovereign states that make up the Iberian Peninsula — the other being Portugal. To the west, Spain borders Portugal. To the south it borders Gibraltar (a British overseas territory) and Morocco through its two enclaves. To the northeast, along the Pyrenees mountain range, it borders France and the tiny principality of Andorra, Spain also includes the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean and a number of uninhabited islands on the Mediterranean side of the strait of Gibraltar.

Capital of the autonomous region of Catalonia, Barcelona is the second-largest city in Spain and Europe’s largest metropolitan area along the Mediterranean Sea. Legend attributes the city’s founding to the mythological Hercules, but historians believe the city was originally founded by the ancient Carthaginians around the third century BC. Since that time, Barcelona and the Catalonian region have flown under many flags. From the Romans and the Visigoths to the French and native Catalonians themselves, Barcelona’s rich and varied history remains evident in the architecture and cultural pastiche of its warm and inviting people.
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big fish by Frank Gehry

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casa Batló by Gaudi

We arrived from Norwich, England, so we didn’t have a time difference to fight. We were met at the airport in Barcelona and driven by Ruiz to our hotel, the Hotel Barcelona Center. On the way we saw some Gaudi houses that we will visit later.

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our Barcelona bus driver, Gabi

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small building in the Barcelona port with a substantial roof garden

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Barcelona's beach, showing part of the city in the background

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Barcelona's beach, showing part of the city in the background

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Barcelona marina

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The great ballroom of the Catalan Art Museum at the top of Mont Juic

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the organ of the great ballroom of the Catalan Art Museum at the top of Mont Juic

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Panorama of Barcelona looking out from the Catalan Art Museum atop Montjuic Hill

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looking out from the Catalan Art Museum to the city

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Barcelona's bullring — now used as a shopping center

April 29 and 30, 2016 — Gaudi Houses

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Viviane Tavares speaks to us
about Gaudi's architecture

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balcony detail of Casa Milá by Gaudi

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people walking on the roof of Casa Milá by Gaudi

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a close-by building NOT done by Gaudi, but I think he would have liked it

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two houses side-by-side by Gaudi

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We went on a city tour that visited those Gaudi houses we saw on the way from the airport. One of them is built like a fairy story house with a big blue dragon covering the roof and St. George and a balcony for maidens.
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Casa Batló by Gaudi - the dragon is covering the roof - balconies represent the cheekbones of the sacrificed maidens - the turret and spire are the sword of Saint George, slaying the dragon

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the interior of the house next to Casa Batló, also by Gaudi

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a lovely store and café in the house next to Casa Batló

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That night Arthur and I went to the Teatro Victoria, Ave. Parallel 67, Barcelona,to see a real Spanish Zarzuela! It was called Agua, Azucarillos, y Aguardiente (Water, Sugar, and Alcohol). We bought tickets in advance while we were still in the US, and that was a good thing because our seats were great and it was a total sell-out. We couldn’t understand it all, of course, but we could understand much of it and we loved the music. Unfortunately, we could take no pictures.
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Gaudi's Sagrada Familia

The massive UNESCP World Heritage Site is the unfinished masterpiece of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. While the construction of the church began in 1882, the colossal structure isn’t scheduled for completion until 2026. Originally started by architect Francisco de Paula del Villa, Gaudi took over in 1883 and then devoted his entire life to its construction. When he died in 1926 after nearly 43 years of work on the basilica, the project was only 15% completed. At first blush, the breathtaking mixture of Gothic and geometric Art Nouveau forms appear to be dripping in melted wax, but closer inspection reveals a meticulous stone tapestry depicting the life and acts of Jesus Christ. Once completed, the church will accommodate some 13,000 worshipers.
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Gaudi believed that the greatest beauty lay in the natural world, and he strived to bring this to his architecture
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the front facade looks like melting wax from afar, but careful inspection show extraordinary details from the life of Christ
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the four pinnacles in front are topped with fruits of the region
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Arthur Luehrmann in front of the Sagrado Familia
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A young girl poses in front of the copper doorway made to look like leaves and flowers
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a model of the Sagrado Familia
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a model of the Sagrado Familia
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Gaudi wanted all the representational art on the OUTSIDE of the Basilica, and none on the inside; on the inside he wanted only natural forms. He even insisted that the stained glass be completely non-representational.
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the abstract stained glass windows throw a wonderfully natural light on the inside
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the columns take the form of tall straight trees, with leafy canopies on top
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I loved the light that suffused from the windows
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a figure of Christ at the main altar
it is the only representational art in the building
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the organ
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part of the ceiling
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our Barcelona bus driver
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the tree and leaf ceiling atop the column-tree trunks
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The "Our Father" in many languages - the biggest is Catalan
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a beautiful font in the natural shape of a shell
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the floor outside of the basilica had some representational forms
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a piece from the Bible, in Catalan
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while the front facade is highly detailed and representational, the back facade is more stark and modern
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the numbers in each row, column, or diagonal add up to 33, which is how old Jesus was when he was killed
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construction began in 1882. Gaudi worked on it until his death in 1926, at which time it was only 15% completed