Monday, September 2, 2013

Sagrada Familia and Park Güell

Vivienne and I just returned from a week in Barcelona where we participated with people, mainly members of the Church, from all over Europe in a Family Music Week.  Over 100 participants of all ages and musical abilities who met together to share our love of classical and uplifting music and to put on 2 concerts; one in the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Mar on Saturday, August 17 and one in the LDS Stake Center on Sunday, August 18.  The musical experiences will take another posting, but this posting is about 2 of the sites of Barcelona we were able to see during our free time.  Unfortunately our camera died on this trip but using my iPad I was able to get some shots including these two places, the Sagrada Familia and Park Güell, which are amazing and if anyone is able to visit Barcelona, these are a "must-see".  Enjoy.

Park Güell (Catalan: Parc Güell) is a 42-acre garden complex situated on the hill of El Carmel in the Gràcia district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It was designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and built in the years 1900 to 1914 and is one of the largest architectural works in south Europe. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site "Works of Antoni Gaudí".
The intention was to exploit the fresh air (well away from smoky factories) and beautiful views of the mountains and the Mediterranean Sea stretching away to the south of the foothills.  It was the idea of Count Eusebi Güell, who retained Gaudí to design the project.  It is now a municipal garden.
At the entrance to the park.  It was Saturday and a holiday.  Can you say "packed"? Notice the palm trees- definitely a different climate than Madrid.  We saw beautiful green parrots in many trees.
Gaudí's multicolored mosaic salamander, popularly known as "el drac" (the dragon), at the main entrance. The focal point of the park is the main terrace, surrounded by a long bench in the form of a sea serpent.  See a small portion in a shot below.
It was very hot so we bought 4 fans from this "illegal" street vendor inside the park, after talking him down.  We didn't know he was illegal until after, but more on that in a minute.
Gaudí's mosaic work on the main terrace; a sea serpent.
Mosaic tiles cover many of the surfaces in the main entrance to the park.  These columns support a massive roof of earth where people can see a wonderful view of the sea and downtown Barcelona and a view of the Sagrada Familia.
The rooftop of the terrace.  Just a moment before this shot there were vendors all over the place selling fans, sunglasses and all sorts of merchandise.  Their goods were spread out on cloth sheets.  Within seconds all of them had gathered up their sheets and were running across this terrace to the exit up on the left side.  It was unnerving and we wondered if some terrorist action was taking place, but it turned out to be a police raid; all of the vendors were selling illegally.  Interestingly they all got away; they obviously have some sort of spy network that alerts them when the police are coming.  It definitely added some excitement.  Vivienne is back there in the crowd somewhere.
Gaudi was a proponent of "organic" architecture.  These resemble birds nests, supporting the roadway above.

Another view of the main terrace.

View of Barcelona and the Mediterranean Sea in the background from the terrace.  Sagrada Familia can be seen just to the right of the red domed steeple on the house to the left.  After you've seen the Sagrada Familia you'll know what to look for.
Vivienne and Helen Cox-Benito standing about the terrace roof, looking towards the sea.  These two have become the best of friends and serve as First and Second Counselors in the MTC Relief Society.

The house where Gaudi lived from 1904 to 1926 when he died, it borders the park.

The previous shot cut off the steeple and I couldn't decide which I liked best.  Sorry.
Basílica y Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia, commonly known as the Sagrada Família is a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). Although incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated and proclaimed it a minor basilica, as distinct from a cathedral which must be the seat of a bishop.
Though construction of Sagrada Família had commenced in 1882, Gaudí became involved in 1883, taking over the project and transforming it with his architectural and engineering style—combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms.  Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.  Sagrada Família's construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War—only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project's greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026—the centennial of Gaudí's death.
In my opinion it defies description and is in a category all by itself.  What follows is a photo walk-through that we did on Monday morning before leaving.  For those who are easily bored with pictures of cathedrals, I apologize, but if it's any consolation, what follows is only a fraction of the pictures I took.  Personally I can't get enough of them, and I usually bore my companions to death by the time they finally drag me out of them.  This one, as I've said, is in a category all by itself.  I dream of hearing the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing inside the basilica someday.  If this building stands during the Millenium (and I for one certainly hope it does) I'm sure they will.
The Sacrada Familia from the east side.  This is the only side completed during Gaudi's lifetime and bears his architectural signature the most.  He left detailed drawings, designs and instructions for the construction of the remainder of the basilica but a fire in the workshop after his death destroyed a significant amount of them.  There are 3 large facades to the basilica depicting aspects of the life of Christ and the Gospel: the Nativity facade pictured above with scenes depicting the birth of Christ. The Passion Facade is on the opposite side of the building and was finished some years ago. The Glory facade on the left side of the picture will be the largest and most significant when completed.  The building cranes have been a permanent part of the landscape for years.

An artist's rendering of the completed structure.  It will be the largest church building in the world.  When the church is finished it will have 18 towers: 12 dedicated to the apostles, 4 to the evangelists, one to Jesus (the tallest) and another to Mary (the 2nd tallest). Only 8 are finished.

Coming out of the elevator 20 stories up, inside one of the towers on the Nativity side.

Looking towards the top of one of the towers on the Nativity side from 20 stories, about 1/2 way up.  The building cranes are huge even though they look like toys from an erector set.  The tops of the towers are all covered in netting, presumably to protect them during construction.

Circular stairwell inside the tower.  My guess is that not many large people go up inside the towers.
Looking up inside the tower towards the top.
Closeup detail of amazing windows of stained glass.  Religious words in Latin surround many of the windows and appear in various places on the facades of the church.
View of the ground from 1/2 up the tower where the elevator disgorged us.  The picture doesn't do justice to the view.
Gaudi chose seasonal fruits and vegetables --- berries, apples, oranges, corn, grapes, and more --- and a gigantic evergreen with doves flocking around it --- to top his creation, to remind us of nature's (and, therefore, God's) bounty.
The stained glass windows are truly spectacular.  Gaudi's idea of filling the church with light is awe-inspiring.  Many of the cathedrals seem dark and forbidding; not so with Sagrada Familia.  It is filled with light.

The choir loft, 30 meters above the floor of the church, completely surrounds the inside of the basilica.  The Tabernacle Choir could easily fit.  There are 6 sets of organ pipes, all controlled from a single console located behind the apse.  We heard a demonstration and the sound inside the church is truly awesome.  Gaudi was very aware of the acoustics neceassary and carefully designed to allow for proper reverberation without distortion of sound.  I would love to sing in here.

The main nave was covered and an organ installed in mid-2010, allowing the still unfinished building to be used for religious services. The church was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI  on 7 November 2010 in front of a congregation of 6,500 people. A further 50,000 people followed the consecration Mass from outside the basilica, where more than 100 bishops and 300 priests were on hand to offer Holy Communion. The 4 red hued pillars are for the 4 Evangelists: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
I really couldn't get enough of the stained glass windows.  Many of them are not yet completed but the ones that are simply take your breath away.
One last shot of windows.  I have lots more that I'm not going to bore you with. Unfortunately our camera wasn't working and I had to take these shots with my iPad mini, which is a wonderful piece of technology but not a great camera.
A building designed by Gaudi next to the church which was used as a school for the children of the workers.
Another shot of the school building with Sagrada Familia in the background.  I have many more pictures of this incredible church, so for those who are interested, some day ask me to show them to you.  I didn't even mention the symbolism in the architecture, which is so fascinating, but you'll have to "google" that if you're interested.  Sagrada Familia also has a website.  Check it out!  I'll close by just saying I loved it.