Day 23

Today we headed out about 10:30am as we had a booking for Casa Batlló at 1:15pm so we decided to walk around and see what we wanted to eat along the way. The first shop we saw was nutella filled churros so we started with that as our first bite for the day!

Next stop was the market in La Rumbla where we found a cute artisan bakery and got a prociutto and cheese roll and then had an empanada like stuffed with cheese and ham that was called pizza. We also got a fruit cup to share and were fuelled for our day ahead!

Fuelled from our food we walked to Casa Batllo, a previously built house redesigned in 1904 by Gaudi and considered one of his biggest masterpieces. Luckily the lines weren’t long and we headed in before our set time. We were given headsets for the audio guide and augmented reality experience where we could look back at what the house looked like with furniture and other cool things relating to the way the house we designed by Gaudi.

Every detail of the entire place was intricately designed to precision detail although the builders did not have schematics to go by, instead Gaudi provided sketches and clay models and would supervise the people doing the work to guide them.

The whole place had an underwater theme which was typical of Gaudi as almost all his work is based on nature in one way or another. The hand rails and the handles were finally crafted to feel nice and natural in the hand, the windows were based on turtle shells, the spiral staircase looked like a backbone and the ceiling in one of the rooms looked like water spiralling around a light fitting, it was pretty amazing.

Not only did the unique theme look amazing but it was functional too. The house had two giant adjoined light wells in the middle to provide natural light to all the rooms and the doors had windows to let it propagate through. The wells had tiles on them that were broken in to small pieces so they could wrapped around the odd shaped surface and we a dark blue at the top, where there was lots of light and lighter blue towards the bottom where there was less light and needed to be reflected better. The glass around the light wells was also bubbly and distorted like looking under water. The doors and some walls also had vents that resembled fish gills to regulate the temperature.

A lot of the walls were large arches that resembled a rib cage, this structure was mechanically a very efficient load bearing structure and meant he didn’t need to use unnatural straight timber beams to support the house. The balconies were also curved like rippled water and this provided more of an overhang and therefore more space than if they were straight. Even the chimneys on the roof were all grouped together so rather than being distracting obstacles they formed iconic spectacles that literally had crowns on them and tiled artwork.

The next stop was La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s most elaborate, yet unfinished masterpiece. Gaudi had designed such an incredible work of art here he knew it would not be finished within his lifetime so we drew lots of sketches and aimed to finish at least one of the facades as to act as an example for the rest. Gaudi died from being hit by a tram and was buried in its crypt while construction still continues today trying to follow Gaudi’s original designs as close as possible.

After getting there a bit early we ended up walking around the nearby park waiting for our allocated timeslot, which was a good thing because tickets were completely sold out if we were to try to buy them today.

We went through security and got our audio guides. There was a lot of information from these little guides so I won’t try to repeat it all here. The first stop of the guided tour was outside the nativety facade which was one of three facades and was incredibly intricate. There was a small model in a glass box that showed what the final design would look like and while it was already much bigger than these photos look, the tallest central tower had not been built yet. When finished, this tallest tower would be just shorter than the height of a mountain because he believed man should not out do his maker.

Once we were inside, it was completely different and unlike any church I’ve ever seen. Unlike most churches, there were no statues here, all that was for the outside, inside was more about providing space for prayer and contemplation. It was designed in true Gaudi fashion to resemble nature, the massive supporting stone columns looked like tree trunks that branched out and stretched across the ceiling that looked like the underside of a canopy and the stained glass windows were really colourful and filled the entire area with light. On one side the glass had yellow, orange and red tones and the other had blue, green and purple tones. The audio guide did a great job of explaining the reasons behind the designs but there was too much to repeat here! Needless to say it was amazing.

To finish off the day we walked back towards our area which was about 35 minutes away and stopped at a park to relax for a bit after all our touring. After that we went back to the cool little tea house for dinner because the flatbreads seemed really nice (and they were) and last time we just had tea. It’s been a big day but we learned a lot and have seen some very unique architecture!