September 17, 2019

Christmas in Barcelona

by Rosemary and Steve

We had visited Barcelona in 2011; seven years later, we were particularly interested to see the progress of Sagrada Familia (Holy Family), the huge cathedral designed by the city’s favorite architect, Antoni Gaudí. In the tradition of Europe's great Gothic churches, the cathedral has been under construction for over 130 years. Last time we were here, we commented that it was unlikely that the church would be finished in our lifetime.

Gaudí tragically died in 1926, having been run over by a trolley car. Bystanders did not realize who he was (They thought he was a beggar), and he received only rudimentary medical attention. A few years later, many of his blueprints were destroyed in a fire caused by shelling during the Spanish Civil War. Since then, other architects and artists have continued the project, hoping to remain faithful to Gaudí's vision and spirit. With the centennial of Gaudí's death approaching in 2026, the hope is that the cathedral will be finished by then. But seeing all the scaffolding still on the building and the amount of work yet to be done, we were not optimistic about the proposed completion date.



Gaudi also designed Güell Park, a system of gardens and architectural works. Entrance to the park is free, but since our previous visit, the most interesting part, the inner park where most of Gaudí's work is featured, has been changed from free to paid ticket only. We were unable to enter, as that section was sold out. Instead, we climbed the hill and enjoyed the view of the city.

Las Ramblas is a long street in downtown Barcelona that runs from Placa Catalunya to the Christopher Columbus monument at Port Veil. The street features shops, restaurants, and street vendors. Any trip to Barcelona would be incomplete without a stroll down this famous boulevard. Off to either side are other attractions, such as some Roman ruins, one of the houses designed by Gaudí, and other places of interest.


One day we took the train to Figueres to see the Dali Theater-Museum, designed by Dali and featuring many of his works. The building's exterior, painted pink, studded with golden loaves of bread, topped with monumental eggs and a geodesic dome, is emblematic of Dali's style. The many themed rooms are a wonder to see, even for those unfamiliar with Dali.

Walking around Barcelona is always a treat. The architecture ranges from ancient Roman ruins, to structures preserved since medieval times, to Gaudí and the modernists, to contemporary glass and concrete. There are fountains, mosaics, and grand public art.


We were here for Christmas 2018.

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