Tag Archives: Spain

Guell Park, Barcelona. Photo Blog.

Mosaic lizard in Guell Park
Probably the most famous landmark in Park Guell is Gaudi’s mosaic lizard.

For me Park Guell was one of the highlights of Barcelona, though once again I was struck by the absence of park-like spaces the way we know them in Australia. You could sit on benches, including the beautiful mosaic benches shown below, but there were no big open grasses spaces to sit. There was plenty of garden space, but it was for looking at from the outside, not for sitting within. However, the structures were amazing, and we took a gazillion photos just here.

Of course, it wasn’t originally designed as a park. Gaudi was commissioned to design a fabulous garden city, in which individual plots were to be sold for houses to be built on. However, the plots never sold, and eventually Josep Guell, who owned the land, donated it to the city of Barcelona to be a public park.

Once again, before we were travelling with the kids, we didn’t spend as much time exploring the park as we might have on our own. They enjoyed it for a while, but eventually the need for ice creams outweighed the need to see more mosaics!

Guell Park View from up high
View from high in Park Guell
A wide path seen from above through greenery
Walking through Park Guell is mostly all about the paths – it’s not like an Australian park where you might spend more time running about on lawns or picnicing in the shade of the trees.
a statue of a woman made up of many small rocks
Not everything in Park Guell is made up of tile mosaics – this is one of a line of similar, but unique, statues.

 

people sell their wares in a square
There were lots of people selling cheap souvenirs like this in Park Guell, most of whom had to quickly pack up and run off each time the Policia came by.

 

middle aged white man smiling, holding up a series of hand painted bookmarks
This fellow, however, didn’t run off, though he did begin packing up. Not because he had a license to be there, but because he was painting and selling his paintings (as well as prints of his painting of the Sagrada Familia, which he said he was asked to paint so often he simply couldn’t do it anymore), which he couldn’t quickly wrap up in a piece of cloth and run off with, like fake rolex watches or genuine Spanish fans (made in Chrina). When the Policia did come past, while we happened to be standing talking to him, he said (translating for us afterwards), they said, “Why didn’t you run off with everybody else?” They also told him he should find a quiet, out-of the way corner to paint in – save everyone some trouble!

 

mosaic benches wind like a snake
These fabulous mosaic serpentine benches surround the central plaza, shown in the photo above where the people hawk their wares.

 

close up of mosiac tiled bench seat
Detail of the moasic benches

 

Round blue and green mosaic tiling surrounds a yellow-orange sun shape on a textured ceiling
The ceiling in this cave-like part of Park Guell has numerous of these round, textured mosaic sculptures. This area is under the central plaza, and was orginially intended to be the marketplace of the ‘garden city’ Park Guell was initally designed to be.

 

Top half of blue and white tiled tower with white cross at top
This is one of my favourite pics, and is the tower of the main gatehouse, shown below (but when I took this one, I couldn’t see the rest of the building). You can just see all the individual tiles that make up the squares and the cross.

 

Gaudi building with tiled roof and tiled tower in Park Guell
This building, the main gatehouse, reminds me somehow of the witch’s house in Hansel and Gretal, but with tiles instead of sugar for the roof.

In Barcelona: The Sagrada Familia with Kids

Crowds wait at the back of the church
Crowds wait at the back of the Sagrada Familia, at the groups entrance.
older Sagrada familia set against lighter modern construction
The Sagrada Familia has been under construction for well over one hundred years, and it's easy to see how construction practices have changed in that time. Here you can see the older, concrete construction set against newer and ongoing work. The museum underneath the church is free with entrance and can give a fascinating perspective on the construction.

Traveling with kids is definitely different to traveling without them. Of course that’s not news. And I’ve traveled with kids before, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but I supposed I haven’t traveled to places where I want to behave like a tourist before – sightseeing.

Today we went to the Sagrada Familia, which was amazing. This is a church designed by Gaudi, which has been under construction since 1882, with completion expected around 2020. Some people come back to Barcelona every few years to see how it’s progressing. I think we took about 100 photos.

Even at 10 in the morning the line to buy tickets to enter the church was around the block, but there were far fewer tour groups waiting than when we visited two days ago and decided not to go in, an hour or two later in the day. But, the line moved quickly, and once inside it didn’t feel particularly crowded, if also not particularly reverential.

Tickets cost us €12 each and the kids were free, all being under 10. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go up in the lift into the spires, because a) under 6 year olds can’t go up, so someone would have had to stay down with Mikaela and Eliane, and b) the next time we could go was 1&1/2 hours away – tickets were sold out until then.

A spiral staircase
If you go up to the top of the spires in the lift, you have the choice of coming back down the lift or walking down the spiral staircase.

An hour and a half seemed too long to wait, and we were not wrong in our assessment – the two younger kids were over it long before that, especially Eliane, who woke up tired and grumpy today, after a short nap yesterday and an unsettled night. There really wasn’t a lot in the church for them to do – when you’re 1 or even 5, it’s pretty much a case of seen one amazing glass window, seen ’em all.

Liam had his own camera and so enjoyed taking photos himself, while Chris and I took turns with child supervision and church appreciation. That was okay, but we simply weren’t at leisure to read the various plaques or spend any time in the museum (underneath) and so on. We walked through the museum, but only to find the toilets!

While the Sagrada Familia was well worth the visit, for Liam as well as us grown ups, I would love to go back without the kids (or without young kids at the very least) to be able to really appreciate the church in all it’s glory. After the money and energy that has been poured into this church, which was Gaudi’s last and some say greatest work, I imagine it will always be a tourist attraction. But I would like to think that there will be facility for it to be used as it was, I’m sure, intended, not only to hold services, but for the devout (or even not so devout) to sit in mediation or prayer in what should be an amazing atmosphere – if ever there is a time when it is not crawling with sightseers and their cameras.

Speaking for which, here are just a few of the photos we took:

Angels around stained glass window on the outside of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona
Detail on the outside of the church

 

Looking up in the Centre of the Church

 

Stained glass windows in brilliant colour
Just some of the many brilliant stained glass windows in the Sagrada Familia

 

Barcelona City from Montjuic with the Sagrada Familia in the middle
View of the Sagrada Familia with several cranes just visible, situated in the middle of the city of Barcelona, from about half way up the popular tourist spot, Montjuic.