Spain – Spectacular Gardens & Gaudi Tour 2016
Granada, Cordoba, Sevilla, Barcelona and the Costa Brava Coastline
June 7th – June 16th, 2016


June 15th Sagrada Familia, Torre Bellesguard, Palau de la Musica Catalana and Afternoon tea at the Hotel Palace

What a fantastic day, it almost seems unreal when you look at the Sagrada Familia, so incredibly different and ‘busy’ on the outside and inside so quiet and peaceful..I think the lighting has a lot to do with the serenity one feels here. The first time I saw it, I did not know what to expect on the inside…I only knew that even with the scaffolding from continual building I was mesmerized by every inch of it on the outside. It was so totally bizarre. The outside is busy, colourful in spots with the tiles yet so very grey, having so much symbolism and inside….well, I loved it for being so different from the outside. As with all of Gaudi’s work, you either like it or not but I don’t think you can make that presumption without seeing it in person. It is so different from our usual thinking and it just plain takes time for it all to sink in. I loved the peace that I felt inside, especially when the sun shone through the most beautiful and unique stained glass windows you will set your eyes on. When this happens you cannot help but look up and feel you are being transported on one of the beams of colour. You can go up into one of the Towers as well and I suggest you do so that you can see the tiles at a closer level. At the time of Gaudi’s death in 1926 less than a quarter of this project was complete. They say it should be complete by 2026, the centenary of his death. Paul Goldberger, an American architectural critic and educator, called it "The most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages.” The building's design itself has been polarizing. Assessments by Gaudí's fellow architects were generally positive; Louis Sullivan greatly admired it, describing Sagrada Família as the "greatest piece of creative architecture in the last twenty-five years. It is spirit symbolized in stone”. George Orwell called it "one of the most hideous buildings in the world" James A. Michener called it "one of the strangest-looking serious buildings in the world" and British historian Gerald Brenan stated about the building "Not even in the European architecture of the period can one discover anything so vulgar or pretentious." The building's distinctive silhouette has nevertheless become symbolic of Barcelona itself, drawing an estimated 2.5 million visitors annually.

Did you know? Since he was convinced that nothing of value could be achieved without sacrifice, Gaudi dedicated himself to an austere life of prayer and detachment. On occasion Gaudi had expressed a desire to die in a hospital among the poor people. This came to pass when he was run down by a street car. The police didn’t recognize him and seeing him a poor man, they took him to the Holy Cross Hospital, where he died June 10th, 1926.

Then on to another of Gaudi’s lesser known buildings but his touch is very evident. The Bellesguard house was built by Antoni Gaudí between 1900 and 1909, using rectilinear forms rarely seen in his other work. His inspiration was the medieval castle of Martin I, also known as Martin the Humane, the last king of the Catalan dynasty of the House of Barcelona, who resided at Bellesguard until his death in 1410. Gaudí built a castle that was a blend of Art Nouveau and Gothic style and restored the ruins of the medieval palace, which are now part of the estate’s grounds. The history of Bellesguard is inextricably bound up with the history of Catalonia. The many historic events that unfolded and the renowned figures that passed through Bellesguard over the centuries influenced and inspired Antoni Gaudí to create one of his most personal, symbolic and fascinating works.

The Musica Catalana is just so striking and happy and ornate and theatrical my neck hurt from looking up so much and then we sat and got to listen to a bit of the organ and wow, that was awesome. The Palau de la Música Catalana is one of the most representative monuments of Art Nouveau architecture. An emblematic building of the Catalan Modernism, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997. Built between 1905 and 1908 by the great architect Lluis Domènech i Montaner, the Palau de la Música Catalana is an architectural jewel of Barcelona. Our guided tours starts in the Rehearsal Hall of the Orfeó Catala, where the foundation stone of the building was laid in 1905 and where even today, as it has for more than 100 years, the choir of the Orfeó Català rehearses regularly. Sitting in this intimate space, you can find out the reason for its importance with an audiovisual tour. The tour continues along the grand staircase decorated with flowers, Catalan flags and a single rail: built in a clever combination of a range of materials including iron and glass to create a world of detail which never ceases to amaze. Next we'll visit the Lluís Millet Hall, where you can glimpse the large balcony with columns symbolizing flowers of every kind, in a tribute to nature. Finally we'll go into the Concert Hall where an explosion of colour, shapes and light will welcome you to this great masterpiece of decorative art which amazes and inspires visitors and artists day after day. You will also go up to the second floor, next to the great skylight, a drop of water and honey, a source of both light and inspiration.

Finally to the El Palace Hotel for Afternoon Tea and it was lovely just to sit on the roof and enjoy the view and the tea..filling and delicious and a lovely way to end our tour.

DSC04745 – 4917