Parc Guell, Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

Parc Guell, north Barcelona, Spain

Parc Guell, north Barcelona.

Parc Guell

Another psychedelic project from Anton Gaudi is this brilliant park in north Barcelona, constructed between 1900-1914. The main terrace seen above has serpentine tiled benches that create wonderful social spaces.

Note the mushroom chimney, shaped exactly like the well-known hallucinogenic Fly Agaric mushroom. Some people are of the opinion that Gaudi was greatly influenced by these potentially toxic but wildly wacky ‘rooms. Wacky rooms? Yup.

One of the startling buildings in Parc Guell, Barcelona, Spain

One of the startling buildings in Parc Guell.

Park Guell is a bit off the normal tourist route so get there via a Metro train to Vallcarca, one of those hop-on hop-off buses or a taxi if the wallet is willing.

Parc Guell's famous Gaudi lizard and elevated seating plaza, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Parc Guell’s famous Gaudi salamander and elevated seating plaza/terrace.

Parc Guell's café, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

A café just off the terrace in the park.

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia spires seen from the elevator stopping point, Barcelona, Spain

Sagrada Familia spires seen from the elevator stopping point.

The Sagrada Familia is more correctly known as The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia and has been under construction since 1882, with a completion date supposedly in 2026, but this is the society that made the term mañana famous so somehow we have our doubts.
However, the Sagrada Familia is – even unfinished – an astonishing building, one of Spain’s best sights, Barcelona’s top tourist attraction and it can only get better as bits get finished and the wrapping comes off.

The Sagrada Familia north side 'bone' detail, Barcelona, Spain

The Sagrada Familia’s east side, the intricately decorated Nativity façade over which Gaudi had most influence.

The Sagrada Familia south side Christ's arrest sculpture, Barcelona, Spain

The severe, angled Passion façade on the west side. That’s Judas looking distinctly shamed at Christ’s arrest by the Romans.

barcelona, sagrada familia ceiling, Spain.

The interior is starting to look as wacky as the exterior. Photo by Poniol60.

The Sagrada Familia south side doors detail, Barcelona, Spain

Mysterious engravings on the elevator doorway; and no, we have not reversed the image!

The Sagrada Familia south side Christ statue, Barcelona, Spain

Three of the church’s towers.

The Sagrada Familia final plan calls for 18 towers in total, in ascending order of height, 12 for the apostles, 4 for the Evangelists, one for the Virgin Mary and one for Christ. The last and tallest will be 1 metre lower than Montjuic hill, so Gaudi’s work does not surpass God’s.

The interior of the church is mostly complete with roof-support columns reminiscent of vast trees in a tropical forest with shafts of sunlight breaking through.

The whole church, inside and out is simply loaded with extraordinary detail, creativity and symbolism; it’s endlessly fascinating and is well worth buying an entry ticket – which, incidentally, is paying for the continued work at about €18m a year. More.

Short Trips Out

If you have time to spare and want to make a trip out of Barcelona for a couple of days then Dali’s turd-studded museum in Figueres (Pubol Castle or Gala Dali Museum), is 1. 5 hour train ride from Plaza Catalunya.

Then take a bus for an hour to quiet and attractive Cadaques, a bohemian seaside town (Dali’s home in latter years, specifically Port Ligat, 15 minutes walk from Cadaques centre). Adjacent Rosas, Dali’s favourite haunt (as well as Picasso, Bunuel and Lorca) offers some medieval buildings, modern beaches and plenty of bars.