“Nothing is art if it does not come from nature.”
Most people either love or loathe Gaudí’s designs. Some architectural critics have described his work as garish and overly busy. Gaudí was certainly not cut from the same fabric as Mies van der Rohe and other later architects who espoused the notion that ‘less is more’.
Personally, I admire his disregard for convention and dedication (or obsession) to finding unique solutions to the structural engineering problems posed during the process of creating his more unique buildings.
While Gaudí always aimed for perfection in his work and collaborated with the best artisans of his time, I’m drawn to the projects he designed in the latter half of his career with their whimsical style and forms imitating nature. Gaudí supposedly said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that there were no straight lines in nature so he didn’t intend to use them in his work.
The technical difficulty and expense of building such elaborate and unusual structures is apparent since only the highest quality materials were used and every detail was meticulously executed. These buildings were made to last through the ages, unlike the poor quality construction slapped together in most world cities these days which is expected to be replaced after a period of 30 or so years.
Following are photos of four of Gaudí’s buildings in Barcelona: 1) La Sagrada Familia (Church of the Holy Family), 2) Casa Battló (my favorite), 3) La Predrera (also known as Casa Milá), and 4) Güell Palace (one of his early projects).
Gaudí-master, magician, creator of the divine!
I’ve been a huge fan of Antoni Gaudi’s work since my first visit to Barcelona in 1993. Since then, I’ve come to admire his knowledge of engineering as well as architectural design along with his personal tenacity and maverick spirit that, while not always pleasing his clients, drove him to perfect his methods. Viewing his work up close, I’m always struck by the attention to detail and exquisite craftsmanship evident in his completed works. As the old saying goes–they don’t make ’em like this anymore!
Granada may be world famous for its magnificent UNESCO World Heritage site, the Alhambra, but this fascinating city has so much more to offer. A stroll up hill from the city center and the Granada Cathedral will take you through the ancient Muslim quarter known as the Albayzin with its narrow lanes and palaces.
The historic Realejo, Granada’s former Jewish district, is also a must see with its hipster hangouts where I was lucky enough to find a delicious vegan restaurant. Granada is home to more than 80,000 university students so the city is always buzzing with activity.
Of course, it’s the Alhambra that draws legions of tourists to Granada. To those who are unfamiliar with this architectural treasure, the Alhambra isn’t merely a building. The expansive hilltop compound encompasses a fort, assorted palaces, gardens, churches and museums.
The difficulty of securing a last minute ticket to see the interiors of the Nasrid Palaces, the highlight of any visit, is well worth the effort. These palaces display the very best of Moorish craftsmanship that had developed over the previous seven centuries in Al-Andalus. Of particular note is how effectively the architects used water to add a sense of infinite space and tranquility.
What an amazing city! Seville proudly wears its historical legacy while still embracing all the best aspects of the modern world from architecture, the visual and performing arts to marvelous cuisine.
Seville has had the kind of varied and illustrious history that few cities can boast. Settled by the Romans, it later became a capital of the Moorish Caliphate of Al Andalus which enjoyed dominance over the region for more than two centuries until the Reconquista, the Catholic conquest of the Muslim Empire in what is now southern Spain.
In the years following Christopher Columbus’s so-called ‘discovery’ of America in 1492, Seville became one of the world’s largest and wealthiest cities after being selected by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella as the home port for all the treasures being plundered from the ‘New World’. The Guadalquivir River, which runs through the heart of the city, was utilized as a safe harbor for the tons of gold and silver which were brought back to Spain and stored in the Torre de Oro (Tower of Gold) on its banks.
While Seville still preserves historical layers from all these civilizations, it was Columbus’s voyages to the Americas that sealed its fate as one of the world’s greatest cities. This magical stroke of good fortune, and unparalleled wealth that followed, has bequeathed the city with its greatest architectural legacy.
Marvel at one of the world’s largest cathedrals, royal palaces fit for both Muslim Caliphs and Catholic Kings as evidenced in Seville’s most awe-inspiring structure known as The Alcazar, ornate municipal buildings that would be viewed as royal palaces in lesser cities, grand plazas and gold-encrusted alters and meticulously crafted sculptures that fill the breath-taking spaces of the city’s innumerable churches.
While I’m not a fan of the genocidal aftermath of Columbus’s (and others) voyages to the Americas, my fascination with history allows me to still marvel at both the horror and the creativity humans are capable of producing. From Columbus’s ornate tomb inside the Seville Cathedral to the numerous public squares and other buildings bearing his name, it’s clear that his legacy is still celebrated here.
So, take your time and see how much of Seville’s history you can absorb in this photo journal. I’ve also included photos of one of my favorite structures, an ultra-modern wooden construction, the Metropol Parasol. It’s evidence that Seville intends to stay at the forefront of contemporary architecture and build on the legacy of its past.
Note: I’ve used English captions in an effort to make them accessible to all.
The historical southern Spanish city of Seville will beguile you with the world’s largest Gothic cathedral, the visually delightful Mudejar-style Alcazar, the Gold Tower where the treasures brought from the Americas were unloaded from ships and stored, the passion of flamenco and SO much more. Sit back and enjoy the visuals in this video journal.
Note: I’ll also be posting a photo journal on Seville shortly.