Today started off with good timing. We went grocery shopping and then to the bakery where the two baguettes I ordered came to my hands still warm from the oven. We immediately shifted our meal plans to feature very fresh bread with tasty swiss cheese and a few fresh grapes from the market.
We have these simple meals here often. Everything is cheap, delicious, and needs little preparation. I guess we could do the same at home, but here the raw materials are so close and of such high quality, that it only seems natural to enjoy them in a simple way.
Plus, we have more time for sight-seeing.
We visited Park Guell on Tuesday.
It was designed by Gaudi for his wealthy patron, Eusebi Guell, and originally conceived as a housing development for the rich. The site is on a hill, now part of the city, but then, somewhat remote, with no access via the mass transit of the day. Only three houses were ever built there. One was for Guell, and is now a school. Another, at the very top of the hill, is still owned and used by the original family that bought the plot. The third was a demo home where Gaudi himself lived for a time. It’s now a museum.
There were three problems that caused the original project to fail:
- The site was not easy to reach.
- It was expensive. In addition to buying a plot, you had to hire your own architect and build your own house.
- There were building restrictions that limited and controlled what could be built. This made it difficult to show off one’s wealth adequately.
Later, the entire project became what is now called Park Guell.
In the design, Gaudi faced many challenges, but one was particularly difficult. He envisioned many lush gardens throughout the development, though the area is quite dry. Some sort of irrigation was needed. His solution is still working today.
These steps lead to a common area, which was to contain a market.
On the way up the steps is this iconic lizard which has become a symbol of Gaudi and Barcelona.
All the structures in the park are intended to respect and mimic nature. Here, the wall is made to blend into the ground above.
The wall uses broken tiles, a technique Gaudi used often.
Here you can see the spine-like tops of the walls.
And more playful creatures.
Inside the common area at the top of the steps are massive columns and tiled ceilings.
Embedded in the ceiling are various artworks inspired by the phases of the moon. If you look closely you may see that these are made of broken bottles and plates, basically recycled trash.
What the massive columns hold up is a large, open, park-like common area on top, surrounded by a flowing row of benches, designed to be comfortable and promote conversation.
The benches have more broken ceramic artwork, but the designs are more free-form than the squares on the walls below. I particularly loved some of this work.
From the benches, there’s a great view of the city below.
So, now you’ve seen Gaudi’s solution to the irrigation problem. Rain falls on the gravel of the open space on top. What little falls on the benches is drained off through gargoyles. The rest flows though the gravel and sand to the columns, which contain pipes that carry the filtered water to a massive cistern under the entire structure.
There’s plenty more to see at the park. In particular, this wave inspired passage.
The acrobatic tourist above contrasts with the washer woman to whom this passage is dedicated.
I’ll close this entry with a few more pics of Park Guell.
The weather continues to be unusually warm.
We are sooooo lucky.