From Madrid, we made our way to the train station and hopped aboard the high-speed train to Barcelona, our next destination.
The main thing we did on our first day in the city was head to La Sagrada Família, the famously still-under-construction church that’s been a work in progress since the 1920s, I believe.1
We took the metro to get there, and the thing about the metro in Spain is that every station has at least three exits, as far as I can tell. And we, being tourists, never knew which one we wanted. Long story short, we got the wrong one and came out near the entrance to the church, rather than the ticket office.
Normally I’d complain about how long we stood in line for the tickets, but hey, the view from there wasn’t too bad.
I did appreciate that the crucifix they’re using for that entrance is made of iron.
Getting inside, the first thing I want to mention is the stained-glass windows.
They’re astonishingly beautiful, and all around the place.
The colors shift from window to window, with one side of this wing being in shades of blue2 and the other, being struck by sunlight as we got there, in vivid reds.
It was a beautiful effect, overall.
The next thing I’d like to emphasize is just how large of a space it is.
(People, for scale.)
There’s a lot of space for worshippers, once the church is finally opened; not only on the ground floor, but on the second level above.
The lighting throughout was rather interesting – the invention of LEDs must’ve been quite a boon to whoever was in charge of figuring it all out.
Seriously, it was beautiful – and solidly my favorite church I’ve ever been in. Sorry, St. Stephen’s, you’ve been ousted.
A final look at the interior, and this photo can’t really do it justice either but I think it captures the astonishing amount of vertical space better, at least.
As we left, we headed out the other side, and the light was just perfect, so I snapped another picture.
The main point of our second day was exploring Park Güell, another bit of Gaudí’s architecture.
Now, one of the cool things about the park is the location – it’s on some seriously nice land, high up above the rest of the city.
The view from up there is, of course, to die for.
You can actually see the television broadcast tower, with some additional space that’s used for an observation deck, the highest place in the city.
Anyhow, the park was originally developed for use as housing, something along the lines of British estates; one of the more famous bits of architecture is the columned arcade, intended to be used for hosting a marketplace.
It’s got some nice little spaces left open, presumably for larger stalls in the market.
There’s other little touches – the pseudo-organic shapes of the arches holding up the pathways that line the edges of what is now known as the “monumental zone” being probably the most famous example.
But to be honest, the Monumental Zone wasn’t my favorite part of the park; I enjoyed the public spaces more.
Not only does it have a lot of greenery, even in the dead of winter, but it’s got some beautiful pathways and bridges, all in local stone, that meander around the place.
I mean, look at that – it fits the area so well.
Being built on such a steep slope, the park wound up with lots of levels – but with a mix of slowly descending bridges and paths, and the occasional stairway, it’s very manageable.
Inspired by the park, we finished the day up on the terrace of our hotel, which turned out to have a pretty alright view itself.
Barcelona: 10/10, would recommend.
Don’t cite me on anything here, because I’m writing this while on a plane from Vienna to Washington D.C., so I can’t exactly check Wikipedia to verify my information.
This is, by the way, the reason that I’m not including the full name of the church here – that, and because nobody ever calls it by the full name, the just refer to it as “la Sagrada Família” ↩
- That my camera really struggled with, for some reason. ↩