Monday, September 8, 2014

A big day in Barcelona

Our day began with a train trip to the centre of town to catch a bus to Park Guell.  This is on the outskirts of the city, high up overlooking the city.  It was originally to be subdivided into 60 selective residential lots with a park area to join them all, for the well off.  At the turn of the 20th century, Barcelona was booming (after the World Exhibition in 1888 that the Arc de Triomph was built for, and 2 millions visitors to the city).  
Mr Guell (who was a very wealthy man) had great plans for this subdivision.  He enlisted the famed Antonio Gaudi to design this artistic creation.  After 14 years of construction, and lack of interest in the lots, (exclusive  and lack of proper transport), work was halted. After Guell's death, their family offered it to the Barcelona City to purchase.  They did so and opened it to the public 4 years later.
It is now an incredible public attraction.  A series of photos below give you some idea.

Yes, these do look like gingerbread houses!

The mosaic work is amazing.

Gaudi was very influenced by nature and he made these columns to look like trees, like he did in Sagrada Familia.

So after this incredible environment, it was back on the bus into Las Ramblas (which means dry river)
to the market to get some lunch.  A challenge, but we managed.  The juice was  great after some seafood. 

After a rest at a cafe overlooking the Catalanya Plaza, we went on an afternoon tour outside of Barcelona, to  Monserrat.  This is to a monestery (spelling?) high in the mountains.  It is called Monserrat, meaning serrated mountains.  There are a couple of options to get there, bus like us up a very winding road, but spectacular, rack railway or cable car.  There are several convents, monesterys up here.  How on earth they built them up here in the I don't know when, a long time ago.

The photo show an incredible setting for a church (yes another.  They are a very religious lot over here). This church is much more ornate than others we have seen, but the setting outside is about the best yet.

An interesting sculpture.  Look at the eyes from this angle, then look at the one afterwards from the other side.

They follow you!

There are many walking tracks around the hills, but an option to take the funicular rail up to another monestery, although we didn't have time for it.

No matter what religion you are or none at all, you have to be impressed with the grandeur and beauty of the churches and their settings that we have seen through Europe.  This has to be the best setting though!
On our return to Barcelona at 7pm, it was time for a quick look at the Cathederal in the Gothic (it's free after 5pm). Spectacular again, but the they all are.
Out for the usual tapas and sangria, then pack the bags to leave Barcelona in the morning..

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