Barcelona Quarterly Visit

Barcelona Quarterly Visit

Barcelona, Spain – August 25, 2010

This is another of my visits to check on the U.S. Consulate in Barcelona.  This time I was able to fit in some sightseeing after work.

I traveled to Barcelona from Madrid on the AVE (bullet train).  The best thing about the AVE is that it is absolutely on time. If one’s ticket states the train departs at 06:30, it departs at 06:30! The seats onboard are roomy and comfortable. There are some significant differences between train travel and air travel, such as no metal detectors. All they have is an x-ray machine. There are no luggage weight restrictions. Boarding is a breeze. Prior to departing the station, free headsets and newspapers are distributed.  In the Preferente class, they even distribute a meal.  This is by far the best way to travel.

Once in Barcelona, I checked into the Hotel Claris.  When I had some free time, I decided to walk to the Sagrada Família church. It is not a long-distance, only about 2.7 kilometers (1.7 miles) roundtrip. One of the famous sons of Barcelona is the architect, Antoni Gaudí. He had a very different and unique style. Possibly the crowning jewel of his career is the Sagrada Família. It was begun in 1882 and is not yet complete.

Before arriving at the church, I had seen photographs of it; however, nothing prepared me for the massive scale and unusual look of the church. It is an assault on the senses, but not in a bad way.  Because it is so unusual, there are many, many things vying for one’s attention.  I do not believe there is another structure like it anywhere on the earth. I imagine that is part of why it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The entry for the self-guided tour is 11€ (US$13.42). One of the unique adornments on the church is the square plaque of 16 numbers. The sum of the numbers in each row, column, and diagonal is 33; the number of years Jesus Christ was on earth.

At the intersection of Avinguda Diagonal, Passeig de Sant Joan, and Carrer de Mallorca, one can see the spires of Sagrada Família in the distance. The memorial in the foreground is the Plaça de Mossèn Jacint Verdaguer.
Sagrada Família as seen from Plaça de la Sagrada Família.
This panorama of the entrance to Sagrada Família provides an idea of the scale of the church.
Some of the statues above the main entrance.
Detail of some of the statues.
The interior space is massive.
Detail of one of the ceilings.
This portion of the church looks like the wind is blowing through.
Circular stairs for one of the spires.
A huge stained-glass rosette.
The right leaf of the main entrance.
The left leaf of the main entrance. The bottom right notes Matthew 26:30.
The crucifix above the main entrance.
Detail of the crucifix.
Another door to the church.
The west spires.
The 33-Stone. Each row, column, and diagonal add up to 33, the number of years Jesus Christ was on earth.
View of the church from near the Sagrada Família School building.
View of the west spires from near the Sagrada Família School building.
A mock-up of the architect, Antoni Gaudí.
The Holy Family.
A model of the main entrance.
A wood ambo demonstrates exceptional wood working skills.
Detail of a confessional.

It was a very hot day, so after I toured the church, I stopped at a nearby sidewalk café for a cold beer and water.

Sagrada Família as seen from a sidewalk café.
A refreshing pause on a hot afternoon.
Damm Beer!!
An owl sign.
A motorcycle shop near the hotel.
The rooftop bar at the Hotel Claris.
The hotel sign.
A newspaper ad touting Estrella Damm as the beer of the Mediterranean.

On the other afternoon I had available, I went down to the port area after work. Near the port is a very prominent monument to Christopher Columbus. IT is directly across from the Port of Barcelona building.  While I was there, I saw a ferry coming in from the Balearic islands. I enjoyed watching the ferry maneuver to the dock. As I continued along the port area, I came across a large sculpture done by Joan Miro.  It was a very colorful piece.

The Columbus Monument.
The ferry turned around in port to back into its mooring.
Two crew members at the ready.
The Port of Barcelona building.
The Columbus Monument and the port building.
The docked ferry.
Two of the buoys in the port.
A panoramic view of the marina.
An old submarine???
A view of the Joan Miro sculpture.

From the port area, I walked into the Gothic Quarter. One of the first things I came across was the Santa Maria del Mar Basilica.  According to what I have read, this church is actually mentioned in city documents dating back to the 900’s.  Apparently, what one sees today was begun in about 1329.  The ages of some of the sights in Europe just amaze me.

In the Gothic Quarter, a man reading a newspaper, waiting for a customer to buy a hat.
Lots of pedestrians in the Gothic Quarter.
Guarding the news…

I ended my afternoon in the plaza, just in front of the Cathedral. I did not have time to go into the Cathedral, but I did go into the side-chapel dedicated to St. Luke.  In there was a crypt of a Bishop of Barcelona dated 1238!  I will save the Cathedral for a future visit.

A unique Barcelona sign near the cathedral.
An intricately decorated wall near the Bishop’s Bridge.
Detail of the decorated wall.
The small street by the decorated building.
Looking up at the Bishop’s Bridge.
Carvings on the side of the cathedral.
Back on the rooftop bar.
Evening on the rooftop bar.

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