Barcelona ~ Two UNESCO World Heritage sites in one day.

Monday April 14th, Barcelona

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Palau de la Musica Catalana (photo courtesy Wikipedia)

This was our last full day in Barcelona and we still had a couple of major sites we wanted to get to.  One was a music museum and the other a hospital, both designed by the same architect,  Lluís Domènech i Montaner, both beautiful in their own way, and both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Palau de la Musica Catalana

Built between 1905 – 1908, this Art Nouveau building was constructed as a home for the local Catalan choir, Orfeó Català.  The concert auditorium has a large organ taking center stage, but the highlight of the room is the huge, brilliantly colored glass skylight.

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Skylight in golds and blues representing the sun and the sky

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Colorful tiles, multiple roses, and patterns resembling a peacocks fanned tail decorate the ceiling

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The “muses” on either side of the stage, each playing a different musical instrument

And at the end of the tour a much-needed cappuccino, with the appropriate clef note musical symbol adornment on top.

cap and carrot cake

A cappuccino and a slice of carrot cake

Hospital de Sant Pau

Built over three decades from 1901 – 1930, this hospital was in full operation until June 2009.  Currently it is being restored for use as a museum and a cultural center.  

Facing the ocean, the front part of the hospital received fresh on-shore breezes.  Patients were segregated, with one side for men and the other side for women.  Open air gardens were throughout the complex to provide a nice ambiance to aid in patient healing.

“…it was essential to be able to give sick people a feeling of well-being and beauty, which would most certainly contribute to an early convalescence, as according to him beauty has therapeutic value.” ~ whc.unesco.org

GRATITUDE MOMENT:  Today I am grateful that my pants are fitting a little looser.  I think all this walking is good for me.

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Barcelona Liceu Opera House

Sunday, April 13th, Barcelona

It is Sunday and quiet has once again returned to our narrow-streeted neighborhood.  The shops are closed and the streets are empty.  It is hard to believe that just the previous evening it had been crowded with people out laughing, socializing, walking and stopping off in their local bar for a drink and a few tapas.

A young girl was wearing a bridal veil, and carrying a bouquet of flowers.  She wore a sign written in Spanish, or more likely Catalan, that I could not read.  She came up to me and gave me a “free” hug. Continue reading

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Joan Miro, Barcelona Botanical Gardens, Olympic Stadium

Saturday, April 12th, Barcelona

Retracing our path up to Montjuic today to check out the Joan Miro Museum and the larger Barcelona Botanical Gardens.

Joan Miro Art Center

Bold colors, eccentric style and more interested in symbolism than realistic productions, he is another artist that takes some time to acquire a taste for.

Joan Miro was born in Barcelona in 1893 and lived to be 90 years old.  He experimented in a wide variety of artistic endeavors ranging from sculpture, drawing, painting, ceramics and weaving.  Here are a few examples of his work on display at the City Hall building and at the art center bearing his name.

Titled:  Man and woman in front of a pile of exrement

Titled: Man and woman in front of a pile of excrement

Continue reading

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Montjuic, Palau Nacional, Magic fountains

Friday, April 11th, Barcelona

We did a bit of housecleaning and laundry this morning, as well as sleeping in, so got a later start.  Catching the Metro and connecting to the funicular took us to the top of Montjuic.

Montjuic

A hill located southwest of town, with sweeping views of the harbor, the name translates to “Jew Mountain”.  The steep western side houses a large jewish cemetery to this day.  There is much to see and do on Montjuic including a visit to the castle, riding the gondola, Joan Miro Museum, the Palau Nacional, several botanical gardens, museums and former olympic venues. Continue reading

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Sagrada Familia, Arc de Triomf, Park de la Ciutadella

Thursday, April 10th, Barcelona

Warning, another long post.  So much to share from today!

I’m rather embarrassed to admit that I really did not “get” Gaudi.  After visiting Park Guell, and walking through La Pedrera, as well as walking past the front of his well-known building on the “block of discord”, I was still feeling ambivalent at best.

I thought I understood his love of nature and his desire to incorporate it into his designs, but I was left puzzled and more like I had visited a hollywood set, or something out of Disneyland rather than a work of architectural brilliance.

When he graduated from his architectural training, his professors summed it up best, “Who knows whether we have given the degree to a madman or a genius: only time will tell”.  I was leaning toward the former.

But that was about to change… Continue reading

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Barcelona ~ A date for Tapas, Casa Mila, La Pedrera

Wednesday, April 9th, Barcelona

Back in 2011 I traveled to Guatemala to study Spanish for three weeks.  It was to be total immersion, staying with a local lady in a boarding house in Antigua.  My travel buddies, Karen and Jan who were WAY ahead of me in learning Spanish, were also with me.

Also staying in the same home was a lady from Finland (Sirpa), a college student from Texas (Dawn) and three young students from Madrid (Anna, Beatriz and Casilda).  Thanks to the magic of the Internet, Continue reading

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Barcelona ~ Park Güell, Gaudi and Architectural Flair

Sunday, April 6th, Barcelona

Sundays are quiet in our neighborhood.  The small stores are closed and the streets are vacated.  You’ve heard the saying about rolling up the sidewalks after dark, well that applies in spades here on Sundays.

Our quiet neighborhood on a Sunday morning

Our quiet neighborhood on a Sunday morning

You can see examples of artistic graffiti on the shop doors.

But just a few blocks away on La Rambla, the city is alive with tourists and a few locals. Most of the stores and markets are closed here too, but people are out and about.  Several ships are in port and an 11K race that starts and ends at Plaza Catalunya is in progress as we work our way toward the main plaza. Continue reading

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