Barcelona 2009/2012

This album contains photos from two of my trips to Barcelona: the short stop-over visit in December 2009 (pictures taken with a different camera) and the longer stay in December 2012. The 2012 pictures are marked with *.

Port of entry… Before the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, the Port Vell, the city’s old obsolete harbor, was only a run-down area with empty warehouses, industrial buildings, refuse dumps and railroad yards. In one of the most drastic urban renewal projects, the area was transformed into a yacht basin and entertainment center, opening the city up to the sea. A coastal road was moved underground and a wide pedestrian promenade – the Moll de la Fusta – now stretches from the Columbus Monument to the Barceloneta neighborhood.

Welcome to Catalunya!

I know, I know… But they were pretty!

Christmas is on the way!

Old Port Authority building, an ornate structure built in 1907 as a maritime station. Today it houses the Port Authority of Barcelona.

He knew the world was round. He just grossly underestimated its size…

If I’m not mistaken, it’s the World Trade Center in the background…


Pedestrian bridge

Fresh fruit juice

Human statues are numerous at La Rambla – the central street of the city.

He lost his head!

Who abandoned the baby?!

The name rambla refers to an intermittent watercourse in both Catalan and Spanish. Unlike what many may think, it is not actually a single street. Rather, La Rambla can be considered a series of shorter streets, each differently named, hence the plural form Les Rambles (the original Catalan form; in Spanish it is Las Ramblas). From the Plaça de Catalunya toward the harbour, the street is successively called the Rambla de Canaletes, the Rambla dels Estudis, the Rambla de Sant Josep, the Rambla dels Caputxins, and the Rambla de Santa Mònica. Construction of the Maremàgnum in the early 1990s resulted in a continuation of La Rambla on a wooden walkway into the harbour called the Rambla de Mar.

Shop with funny figurines

How very true to life… 🙂



Fuck you!

Mercat de la Boqueria. Aka Mercat de Sant Josep or just La Boqueria. The iconic city market.

The first mention of the Boqueria market in Barcelona dates from 1217, when tables were installed near the old city gate to sell meat. From December 1470 onwards, a pig market was held at this site; at this time it was known as Mercat Bornet. Later, until 1794, it was known simply as Mercat de la Palla, or straw market. In the beginning, the market was not enclosed and had no official status, being regarded simply as an extension of the Plaça Nova market, which extended to the Plaça del Pi.

Later, the authorities decided to construct a separate market on La Rambla, housing mainly fishmongers and butchers. It was not until 1826 that the market was legally recognized, and a convention held in 1835 decided to build an official structure.

Construction began on March 19, 1840 under the direction of the architect Mas Vilà. The market officially opened in the same year, but the plans for the building were modified many times. The inauguration of the structure finally took place in 1853. A new fish market opened in 1911, and the metal roof that still exists today was constructed in 1914.


It is a huge food market


Luring me to come closer…

Passion fruit

The packaging is genius. If there was no spoon and it wasn’t cut, I wouldn’t bother buying one. This way – I sure did!

Smile for the camera! (warning: the upcoming few images are not for the easily impressionable 😉 )

Once upon a time there lived three little pigs…

Mary had a little lamb… She had no idea it wasn’t as pretty without the skin…

Currently looking for horns…

I could live here 😀

I have found my personal jamon heaven 🙂

And the winner is…

The counsel…

Silent scream

Piranha? 😀 (p.s. please do not bother commenting, I know how real piranhas look like, thank you 🙂 )

I see food

Is it for me not to touch it, or for it not to touch me?..

Don’t know the name of that fish in English… It gets born ‘normal’, actually, with eyes to each side of its head, but over time because it flips to swim sideways one of its eyes ‘migrates’ to the other side.


I wanna get out… 😦

Font de Canaletes (Catalan ) is an ornate fountain, crowned by a lamp post. A late 19th century design, it replaced a fountain dating back to the 16th century, next to the Estudis Generals, a no longer existing university introduced in 1714 by Philip V of Spain after the banning and closure of the University of Barcelona.

The fountain is named after the northern wall of the city (dating from the 14th century), called Canaletes because of the water pipes that went through it supplying Barcelona’s old city. Nowadays it is the city’s most popular meeting point, and a fixture of football fans and hooligans after Barça football matches since the 1930s.

Tradition has that the one who drinks from the Font de Canaletes will come back to Barcelona, as this inscription on the floor suggests.

Fun at Placa de Catalunya

It is very famous for its herds of pigeons

Look, it’s a bird!

I was not exaggerating the number 🙂

Angry at birds

Going once…

Going twice…


Little girl: not impressed

This must be the best place in the city to snap pictures of unsuspecting kids 😀

Come here!


Not very safe…

If I recall correctly, this was the very first picture I took of Barcelona… Hehehehe

Sure it’s 2m between them?..

A charity’s plaque

I’d look upset too if I lost the rest of me…


If you approach the TravelBound Bar from La Rambla, you would need to turn onto this little street.

They love their dragons :). That day my travel companion and I also planned to take a city tour, but none of the guides showed up because they all were ‘out of order’ after the pub crawl the night before… So we wandered around the city on our own 🙂

If you have any information about the significance of this whole arrangement – dragon, lantern, fan, umbrella – please enlighten me!

*Anti-Christian sentiments have been expressed by the Anarchists in Barcelona pre-1936 by destruction of churches, seen as an ally of established political power, and other acts of vandalism directed towards them.

*The most beautiful male specimen on Earth (his name is David) hangs out on a balcony visible from the yard, where we began the city tour, stark naked in any weather. Speaking of being naked: until the recent law limiting nudity in some parts of the city, one had a right to walk around stark naked if one so pleased. If I understand correctly, you can still take everything off on the beaches, but no longer inside the city away from the beach.

*Saint Eulalia is one of the patron saints of Barcelona. She was a 13 year-old virgin, prosecuted for sticking to her Roman Christian faith at the time of reign of emperor Diocletian. One of the fancy ways of torturing the girl was throwing her downhill inside a bucket with knives and glass sticking out. Presumably, the route of her ‘ride’ was exactly where the current street aptly named Baixada de Santa Eulalia (Saint Eulalia’s Descent). According to the legend, she came out without a scratch, which made the torturers unhappy. They tried crucifixion on X-shaped cross and cutting breasts off on her – to no avail. Until some bright mind decided to try a more reliable method: decapitation. This one, finally, worked, resulting in a dove flying out of her neck and a currently held week-long festival to commemorate the girl.

*Pedraforca is a province in Catalunya with a beautiful mountain range, but why a painting of it was on the wall of some building is unknown to me.

*Placa Sant Felip Neri – a favored hang-out spot for tourists and a playground for school kids – is a former medieval cemetery. More deaths are associated with this spot: during the Spanish Civil War the baroque church, built here in 1752, was hit by a bomb that killed 20 children who sought shelter inside and left its visual marks all over the church’s facade. Antoni Gaudi was on his way here in 1928, but never made it: he was run over by a tram at the cross of Gran Via and Carrer de Bailenon. He looked so much like a bum that  no one offered him help and, when they did, he was taken to a shabby hospital. It was, however, too late for one of the greatest architects of his time…

*Street art thrives in Spain. Some images are thought-provoking, like this one, showing intent to deflect the bullet by a tennis racket…

*The original name of Barcelona – Barcino – is proudly displayed on Placa Nova. Some controversy surrounds the origins of the name and the city itself. One of the versions is that it was established by and named after one of Carthaginian generals Hamilcar Barca, father of Hannibal. The city was very advanced for its days and featured elaborate water system: part of one of the aqueducts can still be seen outside the Old Roman North Gate to the city.

Playing with reflections

Kids with balloons

The way she’s looking at those balloons – priceless!

Normally I avoid photographing people, especially close-up. But this little girl was way too charming to resist! 🙂

Can never say ‘no’ to that smile 🙂

Mighty balloons…

Pick-a-boo! Still under construction back in 2009, it was finished by 2012.

*One of the ugliest buildings in the whole of Barcelona happens to be the renown Architect’s College of Catalonia… One day the city council wanted to make the facade a bit more beautiful and they eventually decided to depict the friezes by Pablo Picasso on the facade… Except that the ‘design’ was, presumably, a joke by Picasso showing off under the influence of the green fairy (Absinthe, in case you weren’t aware), drawn on a napkin at a pub to mock the simplicity of then-popular style…

*The friezes are the only works of Picasso that are displayed publicly outdoors

*Dali’s take on St. George kicking the dragon’s ass

*That Dali was a weird guy is no surprise to anyone. Egg is one of the things he was fond of. He liked to sleep inside an egg, as to him waking up and getting out of them in the morning was a symbolic rebirth.

Candy store across from the Dali museum with a very clever marketing strategy.

Simple mixed candy is packaged as ‘medicine’ for all sorts of emotional turmoils.

Or a special enhancing treatment 🙂

You can separately purchase small stickers with, for instance, composition of the ‘remedy’

Or instructions for use. All of those are available in English and Spanish/Catalan.

I need extra dosage of this one!


*Catalans may well win the prize for the most bizarre Christmas traditions ever.  Meet Cagatio, aka “Uncle Shitlog” – a happy-faced log of wood distant relative of Santa. On 8th of December one of those is brought into the house, where the kid/s take good care of it, covering it with a warm blanket and ‘feeding’ it oranges. On December 24th the nurturing relationship takes a sadistic turn: the kid/s start beating the (non)living hell out of the Cagatio, singing a song that begs it to ‘poo out’ presents. Unable to refuse such a ‘polite’ request, Cagatio ‘poops’ out an assortment of small sweets and presents under its blanket (in reality, parents put the presents inside the log while the kid/s can’t see).

*Cagatio doesn’t seem to be phased by its imminent cruel fate… At least the Three Wise Men who arrive on January 6th with more substantial gifts are not in danger of the same type of ‘begging’! If you think this is where the Catalan Christmas weirdness ends – think again: it is a tradition to hide a figurine of a pooping dude (Caganer) in the nativity scenes. The intention, however, is not to spoil the fun of the party: apparently, his ‘caga’ is a sign of fertility, prosperity and good luck.

*The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, aka Barcelona Cathedral – a Gothic masterpiece on Placa Nova.

The only piece worth taking pictures of in 2009 :). The cathedral’s internal cloister garden is home to 13 white geese – one for each year of St. Eulalia’s life.

*Past Placa del Rei into the narrower streets of the city… Saint G. was a popular guy, boasting many depictions. Do not, however, overlook another highly interesting dragon-slaying guy on the left (and no, I cannot tell why Catalan dragons look like Griffins).

*This dude looks like he is wearing some sort of scaled armor. He isn’t. What you see carved out all over his body are the hairs! Meet Guife el Pelos, or Wilfred (aka Willy) the Hairy, who is considered to be the founder of Catalonia. He began uniting the different counties in the 9th century and gradually won independence from France. According to the legend, he is also responsible for the creation of the Senyera (the Catalan flag), when, after being wounded in a battle, the Frankish king Charles the Bald rewarded his bravery with a coat of arms. Wilfred’s bloody fingers slid across the shield, creating the red-on-gold pattern.


Surely the statue had a completely different meaning, but I couldn’t help thinking what exactly the kneeling guy might have been doing, if looked at from a certain angle…

*The Jewish quarter (Call) of Barcelona was under attack in 1391. After the events, gravestones from the Jewish necropolis’ on Montjuic were reused for construction. This is the wall of the 16th century Lieutenant’s Palace where several of such gravestones can be spotted.

This flamboyant-style bridge that crosses Bisbe street is not a part of the original Gothic legacy of the city but instead a tourist trap. It has been constructed in 1928 by Joan Rubió, among other nice-looking things added to Barri Gotic (the Gothic Quarter) of Barcelona.

It’s still pretty though

Big brothers are watching over you


*The gargoyles are supposed to symbolize evil spirits fleeing from the holy site, as well as scare off the incoming visitors of the same pedigree. I wonder how a unicorn fits into those ideas, although this one looks like it might just be hungry for some pigeon meat…

*The Palau de la Virreina, built to accommodate the wife of the wealthy Spanish Viceroy in Peru in 1977 Manuel d’Amat, is the current home of the Crown of Aragon archives. Its inner yard is inspired by Muslim architecture, where flowing water and lush greenery creates a micro-climate that helps to cool surrounding rooms.


*Spit it out 😀

*The wooden coffered ceiling over the main staircase. The building currently houses the municipal department of culture and hosts loads of exhibitions.

*Grasshopper gargoyle… (nobody knows…)

*Unicorn in all its gargoylory…

Vertical gardens 🙂


*Staggering heights of Barcelona’s Mont Taber. Mount Montjuic and Park Gueil are, of course, much higher up, but neither were part of Barcelona city way back when its highest point was marked here.

*Parts of Barcelona still host many of the Roman ruins.

*The ruins

*These are remains of the Roman Forum

*I wish I knew the intentions behind painting the surrounding walls this exquisite mental-asylum shade of green…

*That little girl sure was – and still is – on the roll!

*This way to paradise

Parroquia De Nuestra Señora De Belen is one of the most notable baroque churches in Barcelona, built in 1732 by the Society of Jesus. One can see sculptures of San Ignacio and San Francisco de Borja, reliefs, spirals and an eye in the decoration of the main gate. Despite the ravages of the Spanish civil war (1936-1939), the church still maintains the typical structure of the Jesuit temples on the inside: a wide nave and interconnected side chapels.

Hamlet?! 😀

Statue on the corner of Parroquia De Nuestra Señora De Belen

*D&G… (If you know what I mean 😉 ). You may wonder what is the fuss about Sant Jordi. According to the popular myth, a hungry dragon terrorized the small village of Montblanc south-west of Barcelona by eating all of its animals and then moving on to humans. Once a year the villagers chose a person (in other versions, a young virgin) to sacrifice to the dragon, hoping the hungry beast would leave them in peace. Apparently, no one ever thought of simply killing the damned big snake until one day Sant Jordi, upon hearing the name of a princess selected for the sacrifice, got royally pissed off, rode up to the best on his horse and managed to slay it single-handedly seconds before it was planning to enjoy its lunch. Where the dragon fell dead, a rose grew up. Awwww…

*While St. George is patron saint of 15 European countries (a busy guy indeed!), he is, obviously, a more than popular theme in Catalonia… Dia de Sant Jordi is celebrated on the same day as the day of the rose (symbolizing the dragon’s blood) and the International Book Day (Cervantes and Shakespeare share that date of their death) on April 23d.

*Bunch of traps for birds and tourists… The spiky metal thorns are a means against pigeons. The horse entry and exit signs in the narrow streets, while it could have been a wise idea, indeed, back in them days, is a made-up thing for the tourists to enjoy.

Fruity street 🙂

I want passion fruit!

Buddhist prayer flags in Barcelona Gothic Quarter – culture mesh!

Buildings are clustered close by to one another in the Jewish quarter. During the years of persecution, wooden planks were laid from one window to another, creating safe passages for escape. At some point it allowed the Jews to almost entirely shield themselves off of the rest of the city, keeping most movement over the ground. Even the Call synagogue is secret: nothing in the building gives out its purpose.

Getting lost in the Gothic Quarter…

Blue tint was a favorite kind of creative self-expression of that camera… 🙂

Author’s autograph?

Nice ad 🙂

Windows of light

Another nice ad


St. James at the Placa Sant Jaume. The City Hall and the Generalitat de Catalonia face each other across the square. Version 2009. You can clearly see I had a worse camera then 🙂

*Version 2012

*It is the administrative center of Barcelona and Catalonia and has been the center of power for over 2000 years. One of its historical names is also Plaza de la Constitution. To this day it hosts demonstrations and events.

*One of the traditions of the region is to have competition among teams of Castellers who construct human ‘castles’ (essentially, towers), or ‘Castells’ in front of the City Hall. This sport requires a great deal of strength and agility, but it is also seen as an homage to the unity and brotherhood among the people.  This structure is an artistic representation of the Castells.

*I personally liked the lines and the overall piece even though some people hate it, calling it names of which ‘champagne cork wire’ is the most flattering…

*Although we all know how often most hated eye sores become the symbols of the cities. The Eiffel Tower was supposed to have been built in Barcelona. Rumor has it that during the Universal Expo of 1888 hosted in Barcelona Gustav Eiffel offered to build his quirky creation in the city. His engineer J. Tolouse Lapierre went to the Expo set up to seal a deal for a 210 m wooden tower, Poor thing carried a dummy with him all the way from France. The Catalan government of the time didn’t quite like the idea of such an architectural monstrosity and, blaming budget restraints, refused to chip in on construction. Granted, the Eiffel Tower was hated in Paris just the same… In fact, still is by many… But guess what pops into most people’s minds when they hear ‘Paris’? 😉

*La Escuela de Artes y Oficios de Barcelona, aka La Llotja. Art classes have been held here continuously for 70 years under the name School of Fine Arts of San Jorge. From 1968 until now the building served as the headquarters of the School of Design and Art Llotja Avinyó, It is the only center of art education free in downtown Barcelona. La Llotja, originally located in Drassanes, has existed for 232 years. Among its students were Picasso, Miró, Fortuny, Lola Anglada and other more current and Antoni Micó, Sergio Mora, Roger Olmos, Carmen Segovia. Unfortunately, the structure of this landmark building has been deteriorating year after year due to lack of proper maintenance by the administration, One night the roof of one of the classrooms collapsed at night. Students are very fond of the building and wish for it to be restored properly.

*Facade of a house on Placa Sant Miquel

*The one that wrote Don Quixote. To the right of the street name is not a portrait of the author. Apparently, if you mark small squares on the map inside each city where you meet this popular retro video game character, you will end up with its ‘portrait’ atop that city’s topography :). I can hardly imagine how labor-intensive it must be to place all those little aliens all over the place!

*Sushi 🙂

*Exactly what was driving Spanish surrealist Leandre Cristofol when he decided that the best way to commemorate George Orwell (the author of ‘1984’ – the novel that you MUST re/read if you never did or only did so at school) for his involvement on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War by a larger-than-life bacteria of tuberculosis, of which Orwell is said to have died, is a mystery to this day… Big Brother, however, is still watching you through the cameras installed at Placa de George Orwell (commonly known as Placa Trippi due to high number of drug-related activities going on here) to halt criminality.



*Traveler’sBar wisdom – the end of the free city tour.

*No idea how this picture was taken or what this was supposed to have been, but I like the outcome 🙂

Almost there…

An hour and a half worth of sleeping time after a fun night out later, we proceeded with the cultural program of our visit to the city. We kicked off the free Gaudi tour at Placa Reial (The Royal Plaza). Twinned with Plaza Garibaldi in Mexico City, it was designed by Francesc Daniel Molina i Casamajó in the 19th century. It was built in 1848 on the remains of the Santa Madrona Capuchin monastery and is currently one of the most popular hang-out spots of the city, especially at night. In the center is the Fountain of The Three Graces depicting three daughters of Zeus: Euphrsyne, Aglaea and Thalia, representing beauty, charm and joy.

Hanging out is just as popular during the day 🙂

The palm trees are not local. They have been gifted by the Bacardi family (uhuh, the one connected to the famous Cuban rum). Did you know that Bacardi is the largest privately held, family owned spirits company in the world founded in the 19th century by a Catalan wine merchant who emigrated with his family to Cuba? The gift makes a perfect example of the commercial and entrepreneurial spirit of Catalans, but also of solidarity with the motherland.

*Antoni Gaudi’s first public commission can be spotted here. If you haven’t guessed yet – yes, it is the set of street lamps.

*The lamp posts were commissioned by the city after Gaudi’s graduation in 1878 and were inaugurated in 1879. Made of cast iron with a marble base, they carry the winged helmet and the caduceus of Mercury with two snakes among their decorations. According to the ancient Greek myth, Mercury peacefully separated two fighting snakes with his caduceus (staff). This symbolism is of trade and commerce – appropriately so for the location in one of the city’s former commercial centers and entry points for marine trade.

Gaudi was an avid Catalan, so the national symbolism is always apparent in his works. On the lamp posts one can find reminiscence of the Catalan symbols: choice of colors and certain lines, flowered patterns, mythical animals and the city’s coat of arms. Gaudi’s strong inclination towards the natural elements and forms can easily be seen in sea-themed adornments.


Last picture of them lamps!

*The Palau Güell (Güell Palace) is a mansion designed for the Catalan industrial tycoon Eusebi Güell. The home is centered on a main room for entertaining high society guests. Guests entered in horse drawn carriages through one and exited via the other of the front iron gates, which featured a parabolic arch (one of Gaudi’s favorite features) and intricate patterns of forged iron-work resembling seaweed and in some parts a horsewhip. Animals could be taken down a ramp and kept in the livery stable in the basement where the servants resided, while the guests went up the stairs to the receiving room. The ornate walls and ceilings of the receiving room disguised small viewing windows high on the walls where the owners of the home could view their guests from the upper floor and get a ‘sneak peek’ before greeting them, in case they needed to adjust their attire accordingly. The main party room has a high ceiling with small holes near the top where lanterns were hung at night from the outside to give the appearance of a starlit sky.

*Gaudi never in his history as an architect stuck to the original budget. Luckily for him, Guell was both a big fan of his genius and a wealthy man. The space allocated for the palace was very small and Gaudi chose rather plain design for the facade, which makes the building look bigger than it is.

* The centerpiece of the facade is the Catalan coat of arms.

*Note the cones on the top: those are chimneys, decorated in line with Gaudi’s preference for bright stuff that resembled ice-cream cones :). (Not really, but he was, indeed, particularly fond of bright tiles and ornate chimneys)

*Not one of Gaudi’s works but a house that inspired some. This was a baker’s house, decorated like, it seems, a wedding cake. Casa Amatller, which was designed by Puig i Cadafatch, another prominent and fashionable Modernist architect at the time. Senor Batllo from next door was envious of this house and wanted something much cooler and better for himself. In an act of historic one-upmanship, he commissioned Gaudi to redesign his own residence…

*… and this was the result of the effort by Gaudi and his assistant Josep Maria Jujol to help out this fit of penis-envy. Casa Batllo on Passeig de Gracia is definitely nothing of the ordinary and leaves a lot to imagination. At first sight, it may look like Carnival confetti has been thrown around the sea of masquerade masks. A common theory is that the rounded feature to the left of center, terminating at the top in a turret and cross, represents the lance of Saint George plunged into the back of the dragon, so the balconies are actually skulls, while the columns are dragon bones. Such associations resulted in a local nickname of ‘House of Bones’ for the site.

*The tower is decorated with monograms of Jesus (JHS), Maria (M with the ducal crown) and Joseph (JHP), attesting to Gaudi’s deep religiosity. The central part of the facade evokes the surface of a lake with water lilies, reminiscent of Monet’s Nymphéas, with gentle ripples and reflections caused by the glass and ceramic mosaic. The smaller iron balcony resembling a local type of lily features two iron arms installed here to support a pulley to raise and lower furniture.

*Panot Gaudí – pavement tiles regenerated from the original relief produced by Antonio Gaudí in 1904 for the Batllo house. The original tiles were eventually installed at the Milà house instead. As a tribute to the famous architect, the city of Barcelona paved Paseo de Gràcia with these tiles that shape a continuous, uniform paver without lines in which the texture of the relief overshadows the breakdown. “Nature that has always been my master” is one of Gaudi’s sayings, and nature is depicted in the relief. The hexagonal profile reminds of honeycomb, turtle shells or perhaps crocodile skin, while the bas relief figures on the pavers, starfish, snails and seaweed, bring the sinuous movement of the sea to mind.

*In front of the large windows of the ground floor, as if they were pillars that support the complex stone structure, there are six fine columns that seem to simulate the bones of a limb, with an apparent central articulation. In fact, this is a floral decoration. However, the rounded shapes of the gaps and the lip-like edges carved into the stone surrounding them create a semblance of a fully open mouth, for which the Casa Batlló has been nicknamed the “house of yawns.”



*Hug! We walked past some workers who were taking a break, and they wanted to pose for a picture 🙂

*Something modern and wavy

*What happens when you approve Gaudi’s project for your building after seeing a single sketch, aka the most controversial of Gaudi’s works… Here is the story: once upon a time there lived Roser Segimon – a wealthy widow of Josep Guardiola, an Indiano: term applied locally to the Catalans returning from the American colonies with tremendous wealth. Her second husband, Pere Milà, was a developer who was criticized for his flamboyant lifestyle and ridiculed by the contemporary residents of Barcelona, when they joked about his love of money and opulence, wondering if he was not rather more interested in “the widow’s guardiola” (piggy bank), than in “Guardiola’s widow”. Milà was jealous of the Batllo residence and asked Gaudi to build him one that would be even more show-off-y.

*So Gaudi began constructing the Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera, meaning the ‘The Quarry’. Milà was not spending his own money on the construction, but despite that it was drowning in controversy and even lawsuits. The local government objected to some aspects of the project, fined the owners for many infractions of building codes, ordered the demolition of aspects exceeding the height standard for the city, yet the works continued. Gaudi, of course, went several times over the initial budget. For him it was more than just a commission: he planned for the Casa Milà to be a spiritual symbol. Overt religious elements include an excerpt from the Rosary prayer on the cornice. Gaudi planned statues of Mary, specifically Our Lady of the Rosary, pointing towards the sea and two archangels, St. Michael and St. Gabriel to be at the center of the structure, but Milà decided not to include it after Semana Trágica, an outbreak of anticlericalism in the city. Gaudi was very upset and contemplated abandoning the project but was persuaded not to by a priest. In the end, a rose symbolizing Mary was installed on the facade where the statue was planned to be.

*If you think you are seeing things resembling something out of Star Trek on the roof – you are not insane. Both Star Trek and Star Wars have characters that have been inspired by some of the ventilation tower designs of Gaudi.

*The building’s facade is self-supporting – an architectural novelty at the time. Because of the innovative pillar, column and beam framework that sustained all of the building’s weight, the apartments were all open spaces that allowed for individual room partitioning configurations by each tenant. The building also included one of the first automotive garages in Barcelona, located in the basement,.The shapes and colors are earthly, straight lines are avoided, invoking associations with natural environments – waves, sand dunes, caves… “Dragon house” is one of its local nick names. No two window niches are of the same size, every balcony’s ornament is unique. Gaudi wanted all people who lived in the flats to know each other: he installed lifts only on every other floor so people had to communicate with one another on different floors.

*Iron balconies resemble sea weed and carry loads of hidden imagery. One of the images Gaudi left for the owner is that of Janus – the two-faced god, in essence calling Mila a two-faced liar.

*The interior is no less remarkable.

*Plaster ceilings carry through the sand dune/wave motifs of the facade.


*Last glance at the dragon’s lair…

*Nice door


*Fancy light post

*The roof

*What happens when you piss Gaudi off and let his imagination run completely wild… Casa Mila was Gaudi’s last private commission. He was so upset that he could not do everything he wanted on his own terms, he never did any private works again. Meet the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family), commonly known as the Sagrada Família. It is one of the most astounding buildings on the planet.

*Construction commenced in 1882. Gaudí became involved in 1883, taking over the project (the one he devoted the rest of his life to) and transforming it in accordance to his architectural and engineering style – combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. At the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete. 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. Estimated time of completion is 2026 – the centennial of Gaudí’s death, although general belief is that the deadline will be missed.

*The Basilica of the Sagrada Família was the inspiration of a Catalan bookseller, Josep Maria Bocabella, founder of Asociación Espiritual de Devotos de San José (Spiritual Association of Devotees of St. Joseph). After a visit to the Vatican in 1872, Bocabella returned from Italy with the intention of building a church inspired by that at Loreto. The crypt of the church, funded by donations, was begun 19 March 1882, on the festival of St. Joseph, to the design of the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar, whose plan was for a Gothic revival church of a standard form. Antoni Gaudí began work on the project in 1883. On 18 March 1883 Villar retired from the project, and Gaudí assumed full responsibility for its design. On the subject of the extremely long construction period, Gaudí is said to have remarked: “My client is not in a hurry.”

*The man sure liked his dragons… What can be interpreted as dragon teeth is featured on the Nativity Facade of the church. Constructed between 1894 and 1930, it was the first facade to be completed. Dedicated to the birth of Jesus, it is decorated with scenes reminiscent of elements of life. Characteristic of Gaudí’s naturalistic style, the sculptures are ornately arranged and decorated with scenes and images from nature, each a symbol in their own manner. For instance, the three porticos are separated by two large columns, and at the base of each lies a turtle or a tortoise (one to represent the land and the other the sea; each are symbols of time as something set in stone and unchangeable). In contrast to the figures of turtles and their symbolism, two chameleons can be found at either side of the facade, and are symbolic of change. The facade faces the rising sun to the northeast, a symbol for the birth of Christ. It is divided into three porticos, each of which represents a theological virtue (Hope, Faith and Charity). The Tree of Life rises above the door of Jesus in the portico of Charity. Four towers complete the facade and are each dedicated to a Saint (Matthias the Apostle, Saint Barnabas, Jude the Apostle, and Simon the Zealot).

*Originally, Gaudí intended for this facade to be polychromed, for each archivolt and statue and figure to be painted with a wide array of colors. In this way the figures of humans would appear as much alive as the figures of plants and animals. Gaudí chose to work on this facade as the first to embody the structure and decoration of the whole church. He was well aware that he would not finish the church and that he would need to set an artistic and architectural example for others to follow. In his opinion, this facade was most attractive and accessible to the public. He believed that if he had begun construction with the Passion Facade, one that would be hard and bare (as if made of bones), people would have withdrawn at the sight of it.

*Newest structures are in sharp contrast to the older, weathered ones.


*The church is as detailed and ornate on the inside as it is outside.

*Molten gargoyle.


*Seeds of life

*The other side… In contrast to the highly decorated Nativity Facade, the Passion Facade is austere, plain and simple, with ample bare stone, and is carved with harsh straight lines to resemble a skeleton if it were reduced to only bone. Dedicated to the Passion of Christ, the suffering of Jesus during his crucifixion, it was intended to portray the sins of man. Construction began in 1954, following the drawings and instructions left by Gaudí for future architects and sculptors. A rigid, angular form is meant to provoke a dramatic effect. Gaudí intended for this facade to strike fear into the onlooker. He wanted to “break” arcs and “cut” columns, and to use the effect of chiaroscuro (dark angular shadows contrasted by harsh rigid light) to further show the severity and brutality of Christ’s sacrifice.

*Angular forms give this facade a cubist feel. Facing the setting sun, indicative and symbolic of the death of Christ, the facade is supported by six large and inclined columns, designed to resemble sequoia trunks. (Gaudi always experimented with new ways of constructing supportive structures.) Above there is a pyramidal pediment, made up of eighteen bone-shaped columns, which culminate in a large cross with a crown of thorns. Each of the four towers is dedicated to an apostle (James, Thomas, Philip, or Bartholomew). The scenes sculpted into the facade may be divided into three levels, which ascend in an ‘S’ form and reproduce the Calvary, or Golgotha, of Christ. The lowest level depicts scenes from Jesus’ last night before the crucifixion, including The Last Supper, Kiss of Judas, Ecce Homo, and the Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus. The middle level portrays the Calvary, or Golgotha, of Christ, and includes The Three Marys, Saint Veronica, Saint Longinus, and a hollow-face illusion of Christ. In the third and final level the Death, Burial and the Resurrection of Christ can be seen.

*Gaudí’s original design calls for a total of eighteen spires, representing in ascending order of height the Twelve Apostles, the four Evangelists, the Virgin Mary (shorter than the latter) and, tallest of all, Jesus Christ. The Evangelists’ spires will be surmounted by sculptures of their traditional symbols: a bull (Saint Luke), a winged man (Saint Matthew), an eagle (Saint John), and a lion (Saint Mark). The central spire of Jesus Christ is to be surmounted by a giant cross; the spire’s total height (170 meters (560 ft)) will be one meter less than that of Montjuïc hill, as Gaudi believed that his creation should not surpass God’s. The lower spires are surmounted by communion hosts with sheaves of wheat and chalices with bunches of grapes, representing the Eucharist. The completion of the spires will make Sagrada Família the tallest church building in the world.


*Golden Jesus: the bronze figure situated on a bridge creating a link between the towers of Saint Bartholomew and Saint Thomas represents the Ascension of Jesus.

*Mary is faceless to direct attention to the image of Jesus on the shrine. Oh and if you think you’re seeing Star Trek characters again – you are :). The figure on the left (in profile) is Gaudi himself.

*Under construction. The Glory Facade is currently bare, as construction work on it began only in 2002. It is intended to be the largest and most striking of the facades – the principal one, too – and will offer access to the central nave. Dedicated to the Celestial Glory of Jesus, it represents the road to God: Death, Final Judgment, and Glory, while Hell is left for those who deviate from God’s will. Aware that he would not live long enough to see this facade completed, Gaudí made only a general sketch of what it would look like. He intended for the temple, like many cathedrals throughout history, not only to be completed by other architects but also to incorporate other architectural and artistic styles. To reach the Glory Portico, there will be a large staircase, which will create an underground passage beneath Carrer Mallorca, representing Hell and vice. It will be decorated with demons, idols, false gods, heresy and schisms, etc. Purgatory and death will also be depicted, the latter using tombs along the ground. The portico will have seven large columns dedicated to spiritual gifts. At the base of the columns there will be representations of the Seven Deadly Sins, and at the top, The Seven Heavenly Virtues. Unfortunately, all this glory would be hard to appreciate as that facade faces the buildings on the opposite side of a rather narrow street… This blunder is not due to Gaudi’s poor planning – when construction began, there was nothing but the fields around the church. Instead, this was a big time case of extremely poor urban planning.



*Poster of how Sagrada Familia should look like when it’s finished: Nativity Facade


*The organ

*Another day – another cultural venture! Building in the middle of nothing was the first site to greet us on the way to Park Guell.

*Escalators going up to Park Guell – so nice to not have everyone walk up the hill!

*Just imagine having to hike up instead 🙂

*Watching the tourists pour in…

*Normally people inscribe their names on the walls and other surfaces. In Spain it seems to be the trend to immortalize your “been here” on a cactus…

*Silly little things people do when in love 🙂

*Occupy and resist

*La Rambla




*Musical accompaniment on the way up 🙂


*Development of the city because of the Olympic games changed it quite visibly…

*Gingerbread house!

*Covered in icing

*Looks edible to me :). Park Güell is a garden complex with architectural elements. It has an extension of 17.18 ha (0.1718 km²), which makes it one of the largest architectural works in Southern Europe. The park was originally part of a commercially unsuccessful housing site – an idea of Count Eusebi Güell. It was inspired by the English garden city movement. The site was a rocky hill with little vegetation and few trees, called Muntanya Pelada (Bare Mountain). It already included a large country house called Larrard House or Muntaner de Dalt House, and was next to a neighborhood of upper class houses called La Salut (The Health). The intention was to exploit the fresh air (well away from smoky factories) and beautiful views from the site, with sixty triangular lots being provided for luxury houses. Count Eusebi Güell added to the prestige of the development by moving in 1906 to live in Larrard House. Ultimately, only two houses were built, neither designed by Gaudí. One, built by Francesc Berenguer, was intended to be a show house, but when on being completed in 1904 it was put up for sale, no buyers came forward. Gaudí, at Güell’s suggestion, bought it with his savings and moved in with his family and his father in 1906. This house, where Gaudí lived from 1906 to 1926 contains his original works and is the Gaudi House Museum (Casa Museu Gaudí) since 1963.

*Love Barcelona

*It seems Gaudi was big time into tile mosaics

*And into colors… The main terrace is the focal point of the park. It is surrounded by a long bench in the form of a sea serpent. The curves of the serpent bench form a number of enclaves, creating a more social atmosphere. Gaudí incorporated many motifs of Catalan nationalism, and elements from religious mysticism and ancient poetry, into the Park. Always attentive to practicality, Gaudi made sure there are holes in the bench and the drainage for rainwater.

*He was even more into natural shapes and motifs

*Drawing inspiration from the oceans and the skies

*As well ass forests and other landscapes

*When it lit up, it started looking even more like real-life model from Grimm’s fairy tale!

*The multicolored mosaic lizard… Or something of the sorts. Most often guessed to be a salamander, but popularly known as “el drac” (the dragon), It became one of the symbols of Barcelona.

*The outer rim of columns is slanted inwards. Park Güell is skillfully designed and composed to bring the peace and calm that one would expect from a park. The buildings flanking the entrance, though very original and remarkable with fantastically shaped roofs with unusual pinnacles, fit in well with the use of the park as pleasure gardens and seem relatively inconspicuous in the landscape when one considers the flamboyance of other buildings designed by Gaudí.


*Taxi park? 😀

*It was getting dark and was time to head back

*Sounds like one I’d like to go to 🙂


*Heading to meet Diana to go up Mount Montjut. We were supposed to hurry up, and instead we kept taking pictures of everything we saw around 🙂


*Another nice addition to my door collection


*Breaking and entering…


*Barcelona can boast quite a few pretty buildings

*The trees were, unfortunately, in the way…

*But you get the idea 🙂


*Windows 8

*Look up!




*Barcelona Arena

*Interesting clock

*We finally made it to Placa Espanya!

*Only 15 minutes late for the meeting! 🙂

*Palau Nacional on Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina, which houses one of Catalonia’s finest museums, the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC).

*View from the funicular

*Expensive tourist trap – we just had to do it!

*Going up…

*I see the sea

*This night’s party was down there somewhere

*In the Port Olympic area


*The castle up Mount Montjut is basically just a fortified rectangular wall… With a pretty bloody history. The fortress largely dates from the 17th century, with 18th-century additions. In 1842, the garrison (loyal to the Madrid government) shelled parts of the city. It served as a prison, often holding political prisoners, until the time of General Franco. The castle was also the site of numerous executions. In 1897, an incident popularly known as Els processos de Montjuïc prompted the execution of anarchist supporters, which then led to a severe repression of the workers’ struggle for their rights. On different occasions during the Spanish Civil War, both Nationalists and Republicans were executed there, each at the time when the site was held by their opponents. The Catalan nationalist leader Lluís Companys i Jover was also executed there in 1940, having been extradited to the Franco government by the Nazis.

*The flag and the view are the two main attractions up there

*And, of course, the pigeons 🙂

*Which way?

*Industrial docks


*Must be a mast…

*We think this may be the moon clock because the functioning sun one was on the other side…

*This here was accurate – we checked 🙂

*There are also a couple of old cannon-guns downstairs, but the view alone is worth going up for 🙂

*Shiny happy people we met on the way down!

*Notice the oranges? They grow in winter…

*Love street art!



*Some of that stuff is really masterful


*Absolutely hate the tag vandals who ruin other people’s works!!!

*Big bad wolf 🙂


*Inspired by the Olympic rings

*The Aduana building – an old customs building constructed in 1902.


*Evening clouds


*Sea front


*A wooden pedestrian bridge – the Rambla de Mar – connects Barcelona’s inner city via the Rambla with the Moll d’Espanya, where we find the Maremàgnum, a complex with shops, cinemas, discos, bars and restaurants. Behind the Maremàgnum are an IMAX theater and Barcelona’s aquarium.

*And here come the million pictures of the sunset… Couldn’t help it – we were mesmerized by the colors!


*This way to India!




*All hail the sunset!






*Final seconds of the colorful show

*The famous Catalan. Little did you know but you may have seen one of his works in a totally unexpected place: you know those Chupa Chups candy? Remember the yellow ‘flower’ thingy with red edges on which the brand name is inscribed? That’s Dali’s design 🙂

*Our hostel/bar knows how to do business 🙂

*Belushi’s inner yard

About in shade

A cocktail of personality traits hard to digest for some but ultimately soothing for those who can. I observe, enjoy, travel, interact, photograph, dance, contemplate, write and love my way through this life's countless occurrences. This blog is a way to share with the world and its people some of the treasures they give me every day.
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6 Responses to Barcelona 2009/2012

  1. Pingback: Leah, Aline, Barcelona | Travel tales

  2. Pingback: New Year’s Eve Message to the World 2013: Fear of Success | Contemplating

  3. Pingback: Swans and philosophy: the little things in life. | In Shade

  4. Darya in Lawrenceville, GA says:

    I found your link on Budget Travel and I think I have gotten more out of your overview of Barcelona than anything else I have looked at. I am going there in October with my friends. Thank you for sharing!

    • in shade says:

      I’m happy that you found it useful! It’s good that the hours I murdered on tracking these facts down were worth it for someone else :). Enjoy your trip and keep in mind that even that isn’t the exhaustive information piece about the city – there is so much more to it, depending on your specific interests :).

  5. After I originally left a comment I appear to
    have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I get four emails
    with the same comment. Is there a way you are able to remove me from that service?

    Thank you!

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