My first trip to Barcelona was in November 2014 for the Smart Cities Expo World Congress, the annual worldwide event held in Barcelona. I was there for seven days of which four days for an internal meeting, followed by the Congress and I extended two days for sightseeing.
I caught the red-eye flight to Barcelona. When I arrived at Barcelona and checked-in at the hotel, it was already late morning. The hotel is next door to my office but rather far from the airport, Fira Gran Via (event venue) and downtown. Not the best location, fortunately, there is a big shopping mall across the road and the tram station is just down the road which made it convenient to go for meals and moving around.
After freshening up, I took the taxi to downtown, La Rambla, for lunch and sightseeing to overcome the jet lag. As it was autumn, the weather was beautiful. The sky was blue and the leaves have started to turn yellow.
La Rambla was crowded with both locals and tourists as it was a Sunday and there were many concurrent Expos and Congresses being held in Barcelona. Indeed Barcelona is a MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions) City.
Casa Mila – La Pedrera
By late afternoon, I visited one of Antoni Gaudi’s great work – Casa Mila, called the La Pedrera, or the quarry (1906- 1912). The building was planned at the height of Gaudi’s career, at the age of 54. It was his last civil engineering work and marked a departure from architecture design of the day. UNESCO declared the building World Heritage in 1984 on account of its extraordinary universal value.
La Pedrera’s gilded joints in stone was an idea from Gaudi’s client, Pere Mila Camps, as he wanted something that has never been done before. On 2 February 1906, Gaudi signed the project contract for the house of his new client and began his second big civil work along the Passeig de Gracia. Gaudi’s work is one of the kind and one can easily recognise his work. He was an architect way ahead of his time. His passing is a great loss to the world.
Casa Mila or La Pedrera occupies the corner of Passeig de Gracia and a large part of Carrer Provenca. it is a house for rented flats with a lower ground floor for storage and garages, mezzanine for offices, the first floor entirely for the home of the Mila family with an independent stairway via the courtyard in Carrer Provenca.
When visiting La Pedrera, do not miss visiting the roof terrace, that made the house famous. It is a unique work, brimming with artistic force, bears no resemblance to the architecture of its time. Its wave-like shape is keeping with the form and rhythm of the main façade, and different elements are laid out over the area – stairwells, ventilation shafts, and chimneys.
Today, the building is the headquarters of the Fundacio Catalunya-La Pedrera which manages exhibitions and other activities at Casa Mila.
Antoni Gaudi (1852 – 1926)
Some background on Antoni Gaudi (1852 – 1926), a famous Spanish architect. Gaudi was born in Reus in 1852 and received his Architectural degree in 1878. His designs were radically different from those of his contemporaries and his chief customers were the Barcelona bourgeoisie and the Church. Gaudi understood architecture as a total art. Fascinated by nature and geometry, he took advantage of all the innovations of the time, particularly in his use of certain materials, such as iron. Among his outstanding works are La Pedrera, La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell and Casa Batlo.
I had early dinner at around 7 pm though the locals typically have their dinner at 9 pm or later. At the dining place, a couple was performing.
My last stop of the day was the Flea Market, a huge multi-storey complex selling all kinds of things from household items, furniture, antiques to clothing, bags, shoes, etc. You name it, they have it.
It was a super long day for me especially with little sleep on my red-eye flight. Guess the best way to overcome jet lag is to be out and about. Staying outdoor rather than indoor kept me awake and feeling fresh.
This trip was made in November 2014. Stay tuned to my next post on my visits to Gaudi’s great works.
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