Barcelona is a wonderfully eclectic and artistic city, filled with fantastical modernista architecture and more than a few great museums. I happened to visit at an interesting time as the nation-wide political protests (calling for democracy and addressing major issues including high unemployment rates) were in full swing with hundreds of people camping and thousands gathering in Plaza Catalunya, nearby my hostel. I often took time to walk through the protest centre (and found a couple of friends to translate the signs) because it seemed valuable and relevant to learn a bit about what is important to the Spanish people in the here and now, in addition to learning about their history in museums and institutions.
peaceful protesters in Plaza Catalunya
The weekend I arrived, excitement filled the city as Barcelona took on Manchester United and won the European Cup of Soccer. The victory led to a massive amount of people celebrating in the street, including dancing on top of light-poles, fireworks all night, and the football team parading around on a double-decker bus the following day.
a sketch of some American guys I experienced the soccer celebrations with (they contributed the smiley face & a portrait of me at the bottom)
Visually, Barcelona is defined by the genius of Gaudi and his wild, curvaceous architecture. I loved the organic vaults and archways of Parc Guell, the alien stone figures/chimneys populating the rooftop of La Pedrera, and the swirling marine inspired interior of Casa Battlo.
Gaudi's La Pedrera
listening to fun & energetic music by Buenas Costumbres in Parc Guell
Gaudi's most ambitious and extraordinary project, La Sagrada Familia, was breathtaking and a clear example of Gaudi's interest in the geometry of nature. Many natural forms and structures can be seen in the complex interior of La Sagrada Familia, including the branching tree-like columns and radiating shapes of palm leaves on the ceiling. It's hard to believe that, almost a century after beginning, this epic project is still under construction using traditional stone-masonry techniques. The Sagrada Familia already stands high above the surrounding city, but with the largest towers still to be built I would be fascinated to return one day and see how it has changed.
Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia sketch