Barcelona – a Family Trip to Gaudí’s Masterpieces
Barcelona is undisputedly one of the most visited cities in Europe and one with fascination of its own. And how could it be otherwise – with a combination of sunny weather, unique architecture, green hills and beaches, it’s the ideal touristic destination.
Although Spain has always been a very tempting destination for me because of the weather, culture and mentality, the urge for this holiday was actually from my family. My sister and my mum hopped on the plane from Sofia airport and I did the same from London Gatwick and the three of us met at Barcelona airport, thrilled to explore this wonderful city together.
On our first day we headed to the city centre to explore the major landmarks there. It was 11th September and without considering it was the National Day of Catalonia, we found ourselves striding next to manifesting crowds carrying Catalonian flags, proclaiming to vote “Sí” on the upcoming then referendum on 1st October. There was a considerable tension, so the subsequent negative events after the referendum didn’t surprise me given the atmosphere in September.
Our leisurely stroll started from the Sagrada Família – one of the emblems of Barcelona. I have to say that I agree with the reviews that it’s probably impossible to find a church building anything like it in the entire history of art. Designed by the prominent Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, the basilica is combining Gothic and Art Nouveau forms in a unique way and it’s still under construction despite that its construction commenced 135 years ago.
Once we got to the city centre, we proceeded to Barri Gòtic – the Gothic Quarter or the centre of the old city of Barcelona. The Barri Gòtic retains a labyrinthine street plan, with many narrow streets opening out into squares. The classic gothic cathedral was very impressive. We also briefly visited the popular pedestrian street with numerous restaurants and souvenir kiosks – Las Ramblas. The huge crowds and intense traffic quickly put us off, so we found a shelter in the nearby church Parròquia de la Mare de Déu de Betlem for some quiet and reflection time.
Our stroll continued and we reached the Arc de Triomf – a triumphal arch with a very Spanish touch – crowns on top of the columns, which crosses over a wide central promenade. It felt like a blessing to be able to walk in the open square along the palm trees wearing a dress and sandals since it was already mid of September. And even better – to go to the beach and relax. Barceloneta beach was in such an easy reach from the city centre that we were amazed what a luxury this should be for the locals just to be able to go to the beach after work 🙂
Day 2 was entirely devoted to Park Güell – a public park composed of gardens and architectonic elements located on Carmel Hill. Count Güell assigned the design of the park for high-quality homes with artistic touch to the Catalan modernist Antoni Gaudí. The exploration of the park started from its green gardens with colonnaded footpaths and viaduct, which reminded us of the Flinstones’, the Gaudí House Museum and much more. Palms, aloe plants and picnic areas with benches were spread all over the park – overall it was a very relaxed experience.
Once we entered the municipal garden, the full extravagance of Gaudí’s decor were revealed in front of us… We were fascinated by the fountain with the multicoloured mosaic salamander, the mosaic work on the main terrace in the form of a sea serpent, the unique mosaic ceiling and of course, the two buildings at the entrance of the park which very much resembled the house of the witch from Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel fairy tale and did give a magical feeling. It also provided a wonderful view to the city and the whole experience in this sacred cotton candy area was undoubtedly one-of-a-kind.
On the way back we came across another architectural landmark – Casa Batlló or locally known as House of Bones. It’s located in the middle of Passeig de Gracia, which was known as a very prestigious and fashionable area in the past and it’s still home to boutique shops and fancy restaurants. Its façade is decorated with a colorful mosaic made of broken ceramic tiles, the roof is arched and was likened to the back of a dragon or dinosaur and it vaguely bears skeletal resemblance.
The last day of our city break was devoted to La Pedrera ( or Casa Milà ) – the last private residence designed by Gaudí which is now another major sightseeing place. Apart from the unique structure and façade, one of the most notable elements of the building is the roof, crowned with skylights, fans, and chimneys. All of these elements have a specific architectural function but are also real sculptures integrated into the building. The roof also provided a view to sunny terraces and pool roof tops. With the wind in my hair, we took snapshots of the fascinating exterior figures and marvelled at Sagrada Familia from the roof arch. The interior of the building was with its original furniture – throw back to Barcelona’s early 1900’s.
Last but not least, one of the best characteristic of the holiday was that it was shared with my family. After all, family is the most important thing in life and we have to find ways to spend more time together and create precious memories for life.
Please leave a comment if you had a trip with your family that brings warm memories. We look forward to hearing from you!