Source: Zaposlena Magazine
Pise: Martina Dragojević Trcol
Barcelona, a town with a population of a million and half and as many tourists, is a town full of contrast. The narrow streets with a distance between the four-storey buildings only a couple of meters and broad boulevards, avenues and the roads with as much as seven car lanes. The neighborhoods are full of life, people and milling crowds, while only a street down the road there isn’t a soul to be found. The multiple colors and beauty of secession and modernistic buildings in contrast with nondescript residential blocks and dormitory type skyscrapers. The streets with the state of the art and prestigious shops and department stores of top world brands, and those with small shops full of cheap, oriental goods. In this town, only the change is constant. Despite the constant changes of the said contrast scenes, the sunny and warm weather also changes with the dark, cold and windy one.
Barcelona is full of architectural pearls by great names like Gaudi, Puig and Cadafalch, Domenech and Montaner, Jujol and others, which really requires a longer stay and a mor thorough sightseeing of the city. If time is not the greatest obstacle, a tour of the main attractions will show you a clear enough picture of this city. The most famous Gaudi’s work is Sagrada Familia, the magnificent church whose construction started in 1882, and which will not be completed for thirteen more. Although it is still going under extensive works (and largely hidden from public view with scaffolding and protective netting), it is beautiful and magnificent, although in exchange for an admission price of 8 Euro it is even disappointing. The interior is empty and mostly impenetrable, and for the public view, only the brim part of the church, and only a couple meters wide path bordered with drawings and photographs of construction of this God’s temple, most of which can be seen first hand, because the church is actually a construction site.
Instead of the sacral silence, you can hear stone being cut and grinded, workers yelling, interchanging with the scenes of numerous stone blocks and figure parts waiting to be installed, cranes that transfer various cargo and workers who decided to have a lunch break. It all goes silent over the weekend, when all the sounds you hear are murmurs of the rivers of tourists and clicks of their cameras, eager to take home a photograph of these fascinating pillars resembling trees, whose trunks are faithfully turned into branches and stylized tree tops with star-shaped flowers on the church’s ceiling.
For 2 euros extra, a lift will take you closer to heavens, into one of the currently six (12 one day) towers that provide a view of the other towers and ornaments around the church, that represent fruits and vegetables, the animal kingdom and scenes from the life of Christ, as well as the 360° panorama of the city. The abundance of motifs and ornaments in the higher parts of the church: as Gaudi said, people from the ground cannot see all the towers, roof and façade, but the angels can. The descent will also cost you 2 euros if you go by lift, or free if you have the courage and strength to go down the narrow spiral staircase, wide enough only for one person, with at least 275 steps. The experience from the towers is much better than the experience in the interior, but the towers can be closed in case of bad weather, that is, wind.
The best proof of Gaudi’s genius is the Casa Batllo house. This house was inspired to the very The house was inspired by the submarine world, flora and fauna and submarines, and Gaudi faithfully transferred the movement of the sea and daylight into absolutely every part of the house. Its characteristic for the lack of straight lines or surfaces; it’s all winding and rounded, and the plethora of details attracts so much attention that it is very difficult to see the house and experience it as a whole, but it should be concentrated on the details. Governed by the preoccupation of the constant of airflow between the rooms (even when the house is hermetically sealed, and a constant inflow of daylight), the Gaudi’s genius created for that purpose the minute of details people unfortunately don’t see unless it is pointed out to them.
The characteristic of this house is the polychromic mosaic made of ceramic tile bits that adorn its exterior, and especially the imaginative roof and chimneys. Less merry and cheerful is another house by Gaudi you should see – La Pedrera. It is a residential building whose exterior is typical for its white and grey shades and wavy lines, while it’s interior is blue. It is less impressive than Casa Batllo, but cheaper. Admission price for La Pedrera is 8 euros, while for Casa Battlo it is a whopping 16,50.
As a crowning feature, Gaudi created a spectacular park (Park Guell) on a hillside above Barcelona, where architecture and flora were united into a single harmonious whole. Its characteristic rounded and wavy forms, specific arcades of slant pillars, the green of the trees and rustling palms, the multi-colored mosaics on the benches of the belvedere, the characteristic fountain shaped as a multi-colored lizard - will fill at least a couple of hours of a pleasant walk in the park. The music played by young bands or solo-performers contributes to the memorable atmosphere in the park, and the numerous tourists sun-bathing or taking photographs on each step (as well as many Barcelonans traditionally coming here for a picnic) fill this park with life.
The real rest for eyes sore from the Gaudi’s multi-colors and wavy lines is the castle of Montjuic, located on the hill of the same name. The regular square fort that for centuries successfully defended Barcelona is pretty much empty, but magnificent. It is dominated by only two colors – brown (i.e. the color of stone blocks from which it is made) and green (the color of grass that excellently grows in the wide trench surrounding the fort). Apart from the magnificent view of the town and port, and the collection of weapons the in the military museum, this fort doesn’t have much to offer. But that’s why the slopes of this hill are covered with beautiful parks where you can practice Nordic walking (walking with ski poles). Opposite the fort and hill of Montjuic, on top of the Collserol hill on the other side of Barcelona, rises the Neo Gothic Sagrat Cor, with the amusement park next to it where the younger generations can enjoy imaginative attractions, fun and games.
Fun is Barcelona’s middle name. Day or night, it never stops. Every generation will find something to their liking in Barcelona. You can walk up and down their famous promenade La Rambla a hundred times, finding something new and different every time. From the fun of watching pets being sold in upper La Rambla (fish, squirrels, turtles, hamsters, pigeons, even pheasants and chicken), over the fragrant flowers sold in its middle part, all the way to the terraces; from restaurants and bars, news stands, candy and souvenir shops in its lower parts, as well as numerous artists and performers along its entire length.
Living people masked beyond recognition into “inanimate” sculptures that will come to life only for a Euro; musicians, drummers, flamenco dancers, impersonators and all other witty entertainers will capture the attention of a lot of passers-by and stop the fastest pace, even for a moment. Two-liter beer glasses and large glasses of sangria will entertain the thirsty, and even those less thirsty. Bars, restaurants and clubs that are full deep into the night, promise you sleepless nights, and the magical Fontana Font Magica de Montjuic that changes not only the water jets to the music, but colors as well, will hypnotize you until midnight. Beware, the magic stops at midnight, so like Cinderella, you better run home so your carriage doesn’t turn into a pumpkin.
There are people who find shopping fun, and even feel passionate about it. Barcelona is a dream come true for such people. Large shopping malls like Maremagnum, Barcelona Glories or Diagonal Mar will spare the soles of your shoes, but if you wish to enjoy the experience of going around shops in the streets of Barcelona, you should know that the main shopping areas spread radially from the Placa de Catalunyae, with the el Corte Ingles department store. Exclusive international brands are located on the Passeig da Gracia Avenue, but there you will also find H&M stores, while Zara, C&A and numerous shoe stores are located in C/Pelai Street.
On the other hand, La Rambla is full of smaller shops and souvenir stores held by Arabs, so haggling is an integral part of shopping. The narrow streets of Barri Gotica are typical for the little shops emitting fragrances of scented candles that mostly sell oriental goods, and where you unfortunately won’t find nothing local. However, if you take into account that Spain used to be a naval superpower that conquered new worlds, then you can say that this neighborhood (at least as shops are concerned) is “dedicated” to the riches of Orient and the exotic faraway lands.