I guess today was Antoni Gaudi day for the four of us as we visited three of his most famous projects. And let me say that they deserved the hype! We covered Gaudi in our language and culture seminars and we watched movies and saw pictures of his work, but I have to admit I did not fully appreciate their masterfulness. To me they were pictures that looked like they were out of a Dr. Suess book and were obviously created by a madman. I stand corrected this evening as they may have been created by a madman, but that madman was brilliant. Guadi believed that architecture should reflect nature, therefore, in all of his creations you will not find many right straight cut right angles. He puts a natural curve to everything which is very creative to have done. His style was so distinct and unique that it demands to be appreciated.
We started the day at La Sagrada de Familia which was, and still is in the process of being, Guadi’s masterpiece. La Sagrada de Familia is an enormous and elaborately designed and detailed cathedral that has a unique place in the Barcelona skyline. Guadi began construction in 1882, and the construction continues today, some 82 years after his death in 1929. That’s right, the building is still an active construction site and is projected to be that way until 2029, roughly 127 years later. Of course there were several delays in construction due to funding and the Spanish Civil War. The size and detail of this building is like none other. There are so many different formations on the exterior walls, from knights to lizards to representations of Christ, that it is mind boggling how a person could imagine and execute such detail. Even the inner supports of the building are not typical the columns twist and come together at the ceiling giving the impression of trees in a forest. I am sure that I will be talking about such a magnificent building for a long time to come, and I certainly want to come back and see it when it is finally finished.
From Guadi’s most famous work we moved to one of his completed works, La Pedrera. La Pedrera is an actual residence in which people live and work, however, the top three levels are open for exhibition containing a tribute to its architect. The lower of these levels is an exhibition of an apartment in Guadi’s time. The middle of these levels is the attic of the building complete with all the nature reflected designs of Guadi. I could go on and on about his mind boggling style, but one gets the picture after a while. The attic, also, served as sort of the museum of Guadi depicting all of his works. Guadi was a devout Catholic (hence the reason his masterpiece is a Cathedral) and was very dedicated to uplifting the poorer classes. In fact, La Sagrada de Familia was part of a plan for a whole neighborhood that included housing, parks, a hospital, and a school. Another interesting note that I discovered was that our flat was right down the street (literally 4 buildings) from Guadi’s first major work, Casa Vicens. By far the most interesting thing about La Pedrera was its unique windows and its roof top that was straight out of the Dr. Suess book. I definitely advise all to check out the pictures.
The final stop for the afternoon, La Parc Guell, was nothing short of breath taking. Again, we had covered this park in our classes, but we really had no idea of the true magnificence of the park. La Parc Guell sits high above most of the city on a mountain (because it was much more than a hill. In fact as we exited the metro, there was a series of no less than five escalators and another serious street climb just to get to the entrance of the of the foot of the park. From there we climbed the trails to its highest point that provided a breath taking panoramic view of Barcelona and the surrounding Catalunya. We were even able to make some friends along the way that helped us out by snapping a picture for us so that we could all be in one. At the top we were able to confirm the unique geography of Barcelona. Barcelona is surrounded by mountains on three sides and the Mediterranean Sea on the fourth. In fact, the city, itself, climbs up a few of the mountains. We made our way down from the highest point in the park to its true highlight where Guadi had designed gathering areas and tunnels whose design and detail were rivaled by little other that I have seen. The views of the city and the waterfront were still insane from here.
After some serious hiking today, we walked from the park to our flat which we discovered was not all that long of a way. That’s good because I am sure that I will revisit Guadi’s work and I am sure that I will continue to talk about this day’s experiences in future blog entries. For now we are preparing to do what we came here to do, and that is seize this great opportunity to learn at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center. Personally, I know that I have brought my thinking cap and I plan to make the most out of this experience, both at work and at play. For me being an undergraduate and involved on campus, it is very hard to get too many of the interesting research areas that are being worked on at my university. This experience will afford me the opportunity to dive in head first and really focus increasing my knowledge and skill set. It does seem a little daunting, but I and who I have been blessed to be and I know that because of this blessing the possibilities are endless. This is a great opportunity to see how technology is applied in other cultures and I feel it will be a priceless experience.
I anticipate that I will not be blogging as often (certainly note daily) as things will be getting more exciting and even more busy. But, for the sake of my recollection and for the benefit of others to come I will continue to frequently record my experiences.
One more note about Barcelona. Apparently, due to its geography, the weather seems to change sporadically. It goes from hot to cold to rainy to sunny…all before lunchtime or as the locals call it, siesta.