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    Gaudi’s Masterpiece: La Sagrada Familia

    A basilica like no other and an architectural icon that can stun any first timer in Barcelona, the Basilica and Expiatory Church of La Sagrada Familia is one not to be missed while you are in Barcelona. Gaudi’s most celebrated work is now approaching its 133rd year in construction with the anticipated completion set after 11 or 10 years from now.

    Antoni Gaudi once said that his client, God, is in no hurry. He knew someone else would finish his ambitious work so he left a series of drawings and instructions for guidance. His original design shows a total of eighteen spires, representing the Twelve Apostles, Virgin Mary, and four Evangelists. The tallest of all spires will be dedicated to Jesus Christ. Eight spires have been built as of 2010: four apostles at the Nativity façade and four apostles at the Passion façade.

    Sagrada Família is set to be the tallest church building in the world upon its completion.

    I first learned about Sagrada Familia in a newspaper when I was young. It was an accidental discovery while I was cleaning my room. What interested me about it was the length of its construction. I actually thought the structure was very odd looking and likened it to a large termite nest. Years later, I went to Barcelona and decided to visit it. At first, I was actually planning to skip it because I thought it was an over-hyped “tourist trap”.  When I arrived there, I could not be more wrong. I was not only mesmerized by it, I was blown away.

    Imagine a tourist with that awestruck look and a gaping mouth. Yes, that was me when I saw Sagrada Familia.

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    Gaudi and a Whimsical Barcelona: Casa Batlló

    “Color in certain places has the great value of making the outlines and structural planes seem more energetic,” said Antoni Gaudi.

    One of the products from Gaudi’s imaginative mind, Casa Batlló, can easily be distinguished as you walk along Passeig de Gracia. Yes, there is a queue and groups of tourists taking photograph of the magnificent building but it is the spectacular design of structure that will stop you to your tracks.

    The house was bought by textile industrialist Josep Batlló despite its rundown form.  Batlló commissioned Gaudi to recreate this building and turn it to a unique house that does not resemble any houses of the Batlló family. He originally wanted to destroy the building and create a new one but Gaudi convinced him that he could refurbished the existing building. The architect was able to remodel the roof, façade and interior.

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    Gaudi beyond Sagrada: Park Güell

    “There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature. Therefore, buildings must have no straight lines or sharp corners,” Antoni Gaudi once remarked.

    As I walked through the streets of Barcelona, I wonder if I would get lost while looking for Gaudi’s creations. The sight of his creation is not one to be missed when you are in Barcelona. When I got to my first destination, Casa Batllo, it was easy to recognize it. It was not because of the queue of tourists nor signs pointing to its direction but the distinctive style of the building that stands out amidst other structures.

    Gaudi and his creations are prominent cultural fixtures in Barcelona. Most people would probably remember Gaudi in association with Sagrada Familia but this great icon is just one of his several works around the city.

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    Surrealism and Teatre-Museu Dalí

    In addition to having the world’s most famous moustache, Salvador Dali is also known for surrealist perspective in his works. Some may label him as a madman, others praise his eccentricity but clearly, Dali is one of the prominent artists that shaped the surrealist movement. Far from realism and rationalism, Dali’s work focused on using imagination and the harnessing images derived from the subconscious, drawing inspiration from the likes of Sigmund Freud.

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    Sunset and noon in Catalonia : Besalu & Figueres

    Barcelona is a huge and vibrant city but I wanted to start my trip by going somewhere more peaceful and away from chaos of crowds. After an afternoon in the city, I decided to venture away from Barcelona and explore some areas in Catalonia. My first stop was Banyoles, the hometown of my good friend (who was also my host and guide for two days). We watched the sunset at a hill near Lake Banyoles before we proceeded to the medieval town of Besalu.

    I have read about Besalu before but I never thought I could actually go to the area. But, there I was in Besalu, on my first day in Spain. I was so giddy because I was excited and there were no crowds! I felt I was in another time as I walked along the cobblestone streets.

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    Lost in the beauty of Palau de la Musica Catalana

    For the past three months, I had the most amazing opportunity to visit places that I couldn’t even imagined of going to. A feeling you cannot explain, it felt surreal, bizarre and wonderful all at the same time. I probably need another post to tell the story of how this trip came to be.

    It started with Philippines, now the journey continues to Spain. The sunny city of Barcelona has always been one of the places I dreamed of visiting. One cannot pass up the chance to stroll down the markets, people watch in cafes, enjoy tapas and learn history in one of the city’s cultural institutions. I was there only for a couple of days and I felt it was not long enough, a feeling that does not entail discontentment rather it was one that suggests that Barcelona leaves a special mark in one’s heart.

    My day started with a visit to the Palau de la Musica Catalana. It was spontaneous as I was just walking around when I spotted the building.

    The Palau is one of the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen. The minute I set foot inside, I was immediately captured by its beauty.

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