Guell, Gaudi, and Picasso - Last Day In Barcelona

Trip Start Oct 21, 2009
Trip End Jan 12, 2010

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Where I stayed
Guesthouse La Sagrada Familia

Flag of Spain and Canary Islands  , Catalonia,
Friday, October 30, 2009

10.30.09               Guell, Gaudi, and Picasso - Last Day In Barcelona, Spain

After our clean laundry was folded and packed back into our suitcases (all Murray's doing – thanks, Hon!), Murray and I did end up going to Gaudi Park (or, more accurately, Parc Guell, umlaut on the "u") yesterday (10.29.09) afternoon.  We took the Metro to the neighborhood of Lesseps, and then walked an additional 15 minutes to get to the park’s front gate.

The park is every bit as beautiful as I remembered it from my previous trip to Barcelona!  Strange, and enchanting, and modern/Gothic at the same time.  The actual park originated in 1900 when a man named Guell bought the land and hired Gaudi (modernist architect) to create a sort of gated community there.  However, the project was a commercial disaster and was abandoned in 1914, but not before Gaudi created about 3km of roads and walkways, arches and steps, plazas and fountains, and two gatehouses in his own distinct fashion.  A few years later, the city bought the estate for use as a public park.

The park is guarded by a mosaic dragon/lizard, leading to an enormous plaza (Sala Hipostila), the entire perimeter of which contains a curving mosaic bench (called the Banc de Trenadis).  Leading away from the Sala, you reach a forest of 84 stone columns (some of them leaning), once intended for use as a market.  We sat under these columns for a while and listened to a Catalan guitarist.  Also, throughout the park, there are lots of hidden caves and archways, as well as several arbors of dense trees and flowers.  Gaudi lived for most of his last years (1906-26) in a salmon-colored spired house (Casa Museu Gaudi, also near the Sala).

As you may remember from a previous journal entry, Murray is not impressed with La Sagrada Familia (the enormous cathedral near our Guesthouse, Barcelona’s number one tourist attraction, and Gaudi’s most famous work), but he was more impressed with Parc Guell because “(1) it was a park, and (2) it was not La Sagrada Familia.”  Straight from the horse’s mouth!

Today, our last day in Barcelona, we went back to La Sagrada Familia to finally tour the interior, but the queues were so long that we decided to skip the inside.  I’ve already been inside, and Murray was okay skipping the inside (see paragraph immediately preceding this one), so we jumped on the Metro to Jaume I and visited Museu Picasso.

Apparently, Museu Picasso is Barcelona’s most visited museum.  I didn’t pay the steep entrance fee to see the museum on my last trip to Barcelona, so I wanted to see it during this visit and luckily, our Guesthouse neighbors left us their free art museum passes!  The museum houses the single greatest collection of Picasso’s works in the world.  I was hoping to be more blown away by it than I was, but still it was a few hours well spent.

After Museu Picasso and a stop for yummy refreshments, we again did a walking tour through Barri Gotic, Barcelona’s Gothic quarter.  We visited Placa de Sant Jaume, and saw both the Palau de la Generalitat (founded in the early 15th century to house Catalunya’s parliament) and the ajuntament, or Palau Constitucional (built in the 14th century, for the medieval city council).  Both impressive buildings!  We also walked through Placa de Sant Josep Oriol and stopped by the Esglesia de Santa Maria de del Pi, a Gothic church built in the 14th to 16th centuries that has the world’s biggest rose window!!!  Mid-afternoon, we again stopped by the Mercat St. Josep La Boqueria for freshly-squeezed juices and sandwiches, which we ate on La Rambla for more people-watching!

After a nap and a trip to the neighborhood of Glories (accent on the “e”), we returned to our Guesthouse neighborhood and had a great dinner on a warm evening at a plaza café with the perfect view of La Sagrada Familia.  We got great kicks from the English translation of the café’s menu.  Check out item No. 188 – direct quote: “Squids fried in the flour on the plate (patch), sea fruit salads wipes golf, potatoes and lemon.  €14.80.”  A few more beers, and we were off to bed.

Tomorrow – back to Lisbon!
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