So, here is more of Barcelona’s too-muchness. Yesterday we published Part 1 of the fabulous city of Barcelona, featuring the imaginative work of Barcelona’s most famous architect, Antoni Gaudi. Part 2 will start with La Rambla, move on to the Bari Goti (the Gothic Quarter) Cathedral, the Palau de la Musica (Palace of Music), and finally, architecture, sights, storefronts, and sculptures from walking the city streets…or alleys…or teeny tiny walkways. Barcelona has it all!
If you ever research what to do in Barcelona, the famous pedestrian walkway, La Rambla (or Las Ramblas) will likely be mentioned near or at the top of the list. It stretches down the middle of two one-way streets that in turn are adjacent to sidewalks filled with theaters, shops, and food venues. Originally a sewage-filled stream, from 1440 on the stream was diverted and La Rambla turned into a street, quickly becoming the center of Barcelona’s life and culture. It has been used for festivals, parades, markets, large gatherings, and sporting events. In the middle walkway are street performers, cafes, artists, vendors of every stripe, kiosks, and thousands of other pedestrians enjoying the Spanish weather, ambience, food, and drink. When you arrive at the end, the Mediterranean, there is an open plaza with the 1888 Mirador de Colom, a Corinthian column topped with a statue of Christopher Columbus, as well as enormous municipal buildings adorned by statues and lions. The Spanish poet, Federico Garcia Lorca, said that La Rambla was “the only street in the world which I wish would never end.” And in one of those quirky things about life, when you walk back the other way on La Rambla, you see and notice totally different things than when walking the first direction! The first seven photos are typical of La Rambla and its terminus at the Columbus column.
Next up: the magnificent Gothic Quarter Cathedral, sitting since the 14th century in a pretty square, with its interior huge columns and vaults, along with gorgeous stained glass windows. The feeling inside is very majestic, and with the soaring vaults, their intention of “lifting your mind to the heavens” works very well! We included a photo of the cloister geese, which you can hear – loudly! – before you ever see them. They were all adult, all fat and huge…we couldn’t see any goslings. The best part of the Gothic Quarter for us was turning off GPS and just wandering aimlessly down any old alley, enjoying the shop windows, architecture (new buildings across the street from medieval ones), stopping for coffee at the charming Black Remedy Cafe, photographing all the silly, quirky, and beautiful things we saw. That part of the Gothic Quarter is below, in the Hodgepodge section.
The Palau de la Musica Catalana is magnificent. The photos didn’t come out so well because it was nighttime and the lighting inside was bright and glaring. And when the wonderful Spanish classical guitar concert started, it was, of course, too dark! But these photos give you an idea of the opulence of the inside of this glorious building, constructed between 1905 and 1908 for the Orfeo Catala, a Catalan choral society. The second photo of this set shows a stained glass lamp with their name inscribed.
And after the concert hall comes arguably one of the best parts of any of our blogs: the hodgepodge. There are residential buildings, flower-adorned retail stores, shop windows, fountains, narrow alleyways (many from the Gothic Quarter), an unusual Sombreria (!) that denotes “we’re not in the US any more, Toto,” a tiled well, a pretty etched glass awning, frescoes and paintings on building facades, and, at the end, a retail model we just liked.
One thing we wanted to note is that if you look at the photo following that with the Christmas train above the first story, you will see a typical Barcelona intersection, and it is unique in all the world. Normally, a block ends with buildings in a 90-degree angle…a sharp turn of the corner. Most intersections in Barcelona slice across the 90-degree angle, and the buildings face out into the intersection rather than facing one street or the other, creating an octagon at each corner. It gives a sense of grace and calmness, especially since there are so many trees and so much decoration on the buildings. In 20th century buildings, Gaudi’s influence is everywhere, as you can see undulating balconies and lines in windows and skylines. If you ever visit, keep looking up, as that is where the gasp-inducing treasures lie, not in the many Rolex, KFC, and Zara stores. It is so enjoyable to walk anywhere here that it is a wonder that the taxis make any money at all!