Barcelona was definitely one of my favorite cities so far. Everywhere I looked was another absolutely stunning work of art. I felt like I had somehow fell down a hole and ended up in Wonderland.
And, of course, the main architect who was making me fall in love with this city over and over again was Antoni Gaudí. I’ve wanted to come visit Gaudí’s work since I was in high school. I did a project in Spanish class on his masterpiece, Casa Batlló, but I never thought I’d actually be standing in front of it years later.
Visiting Casa Batlló was number one on my list of things to do in Barcelona, so I paid extra for the fast pass (yes, the 5 euros is worth it, I literally walked right in) and I went first thing in the morning so I didn’t have to hurry through it.
I normally hate audio guides because I’d rather just read something about it beforehand and enjoy the work in silence when I’m there (is that weird?) but for Casa Batlló I listened to every single minute of that audio guide. I was fascinated by the house, the design, the colors, the life of the artist, everything. It was all so curious to me. Curiouser and curiouser.
According to my handy dandy guide, everything in the house “alludes to the marine world” starting with the fact that there are no straight lines. The house is filled with magnificent curves flowing in and out of the rooms, from floor to ceiling. The windows with their turquoise and cerulean stained glass circles, the wooden doors and banisters, the strange outlines of the windows and cupboards that almost look like they’re melting…
…the shaded blue tiles, reflecting the light changes of the sun from the ground floor all the way up to the skylight, and the way the tiles dance behind the glass on the stairwell as if you were underwater.
I completely fell in love with the house. It was truly magical.
After that, nothing could compare of course but I did my best to visit a few other places. I wanted to go see La Sagrada Familia but the line was overwhelming… it wasn’t even a line it was really just hordes and hordes of people ambling about, which makes me want to do one of two things: 1) curl into a ball and cry or 2) run away screaming.
I also went to visit Park Güell, but again, the line was crazy to visit the section of the park you have to pay for (this is what I get for visiting in August when everyone else in the world takes their holiday). I definitely plan to go back someday… not in August.
The only other place I paid to enter, other than Casa Batlló, was the former Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau. This was an accident, actually. I just happened upon the building, thought it looked pretty, and decided to go in. I had just been to the doctor at the current Sant Pau hospital around the corner (another silly ear infection) and I was on my way to visit the cathedral when I saw a group of beautiful buildings behind a fence. There was a sign I couldn’t read so I kept walking around the perimeter until I found the gorgeous gated entrance and decided to take a peek. I had no idea what it was or why it was there, but I paid the entry fee and started walking around, learning as I went.
Turns out it was an old medical campus. This is what I love about this city. You can take the most mundane and practical things and turn it into a fantastic piece of art through creative design. I mean, have you ever been to a hospital and thought, wow this is really beautiful? Of course not. Most hospitals are different shades of grey and white, with basically nothing enjoyable about the space.
This campus, on the other hand, was colorful, interesting, and absolutely beautiful. It made you smile. Being on that property actually made you smile. And that was just the buildings themselves, the landscaping was also spectacular. It was meant to bring happiness to in-patients, so they could spend time outside in the gardens getting fresh air and enjoying the space. What a novel idea…
I walked around the campus taking it all in. There were underground tunnels and halls with holographs dancing on the walls, doctors and nurses, patients being wheeled past me down the hall. It was almost creepy. Back above ground I visited another hall that used to be the location of the patients’ beds. Again, not your typical drab, depressing space, but a high-ceiling room of bright colors and turquoise tiles, as well as plenty of natural light.
Here are a few photos I took of the buildings:
Clearly, my main focus in Barcelona was the architecture, but I also spent plenty of time walking around by the water, mostly in the evenings when there were less people around. I was staying at a youth hostel right near the beach which was nice, but I was not out partying every night like my roommates so I can’t tell you about the nightlife in the city. I’ve been told Barcelona is the Cancun of Spain, trashy beaches and wild parties. Not exactly my cup of tea, but hey, whatever floats your boat. I’ll stick to the parks and pretty buildings.