If it's Thursday, this must be Barcelona

Holy cow, I'm in Barcelona!
This is the final stop on our Grand Tour of Spain with Go Ahead Tours.

We start our day with a delicious breakfast at the Catalonia Eixample 1864. Then we're treated to a bus tour around Barcelona to take in some of the city's highlights.

The facade of our hotel.

Barcelona is a city on the coast of northeastern Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain.

With a population of 1.6 million within city limits, its urban area extends to numerous neighboring municipalities within the Province of Barcelona and is home to around 4.8 million people, making it the sixth most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, London, Madrid, the Ruhr area and Milan.

Founded as a Roman city, in the Middle Ages Barcelona became the capital of the County of Barcelona. After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, Barcelona continued to be an important city in the Crown of Aragon as an economic and administrative center of this Crown and the capital of the Principality of Catalonia.

Barcelona has a rich cultural heritage and is today an important cultural center and a major tourist destination. Particularly important are the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean are also located in Barcelona. 

The city is known for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics as well as world-class conferences and expositions and also many international sport tournaments. They love their futbol.

We pass Gaudi's Casa Batlló

We drive past the Olympic Stadium.

The 1992 Olympic Torch

City Hall of Barcelona.

Frank Gehry’s Golden Fish Sculpture

Plaza de Toros Monumental de Barcelona

We make our way to visit Sagrada Família

The Basílica de la Sagrada Família ('Basilica of the Holy Family') also known as the Sagrada Família, is a large unfinished Roman Catholic minor basilica in Barcelona. Designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926), his work on the building is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On November 7, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the church and proclaimed it a minor basilica.

On March 19, 1882 construction of the Sagrada Família began under architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. In 1883, when Villar resigned, Gaudí took over as chief architect, transforming the project with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted the remainder of his life to the project, and he is buried in the crypt. At the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.
When complete, hopefully in 2026, it will look like this model.

Chief architect Jordi Fauli announced in October 2015 that construction is 70 percent complete and has entered its final phase of raising six immense steeples. The steeples and most of the church's structure are to be completed by 2026, the centennial of Gaudí's death; as of a 2017 estimate, decorative elements should be complete by 2030 or 2032.

Visitor entrance fees of €15 to €20 finance the annual construction budget of €25 million. Computer-aided design technology has been used to accelerate construction of the building. 

Current technology allows stone to be shaped off-site by a CNC milling machine, whereas in the 20th century the stone was carved by hand.

AVE tunnel problem-Since 2013, AVE high-speed trains have passed near the Sagrada Família through a tunnel that runs beneath the center of Barcelona. The tunnel's construction, which began on March 26, 2010 was controversial.

The Ministry of Public Works of Spain (Ministerio de Fomento) claimed the project posed no risk to the church. Sagrada Família engineers and architects disagreed, saying there was no guarantee that the tunnel would not affect the stability of the building. The Board of the Sagrada Família (Patronat de la Sagrada Família) and the neighborhood association AVE pel Litoral (AVE by the Coast) led a campaign against this route for the AVE, without success.

Now residents in apartments nearby may be displaced to make room for future expansions.

There is controversy in the neighborhoods around Sagrada Família but once you step up to the entrance and are captivated by the detail, then step inside, you cannot help but be in absolute awe of this structure. It's quite an engineering miracle.

Here's a really nice video about Gaudi's Sagrada Familia

We break for lunch. Then some of us continue our exploration of Gaudi's genius by visiting Park Güell and Casa Milà (La Pedrera).

The focal point of the park is the main terrace, surrounded by a long bench in the form of a sea serpent.

Ceiling Mosaic in the Hypostyle Room

Third fountain at the entrance with the dragon

Pavilion at the entrance

An elephant?

We leave the park behind and head back into the city to visit Casa Milà (La Pedrera)
This Gaudí masterpiece was built in 1905–10 as a combined apartment and office block. Formally called Casa Milà, after the businessman who commissioned it, it is better known as La Pedrera (the Quarry) because of its uneven grey stone facade, which ripples around the corner of Carrer de Provença.

The rooftop ventilation towers are said to have inspired George Lucas to create his Imperial stormtroopers.

Back at the hotel, we freshen up then meet our fellow travelers in the lobby for a final, farewell meal together at Citrus.

Citrus overlooks Paseo de Gracia (Barcelona's Rodeo Drive) That evening, after two weeks of waiting, they have turned on the Christmas lights to the delight of residents and tourists alike. It's quite a sight to see.

We say our goodbyes and head back to the hotel. Some of our group have a 3 a.m. lobby call for airport transfer. The rest leave at 7 a.m., giving those lucky ones time to sleep in some, and time for another fantastic buffet breakfast, albeit a bit huried.

Another great adventure is in the books for us. And we're already planning our next trip.

More photos of Barcelona: https://photosbynanci.smugmug.com/Spain-2019/Barcelona/

More photos of Gaudi's Works: https://photosbynanci.smugmug.com/Spain-2019/Gaudi-Barcelona/

More photos from our adventure: https://photosbynanci.smugmug.com/Spain-2019

Nancy Nutile-McMenemy is an Upper Valley freelance photographer and writer who loves to attend concerts and local events in and around Weathersfield and the Upper Valley.

If you have an event you'd like listed please email it to: photosbynanci@comcast.com

Highlight Reel

Blog Archive

Show more