My last European weekend this Fall was a trip with a group of 7 other Caltech study abroad students to Barcelona! 7 of us are studying at Edinburgh this term, and we met up with a Techer studying at UCL once we got to Spain. I spent the weekend touring beautiful architecture, eating incredible food, and walking/biking my way around the city’s beaches and Gothic quarter.
First things first: the architecture! We first visited the large cathedral in El Gotic, the seat of the Catholic church in the city. It’s a huge Gothic cathedral, and quite similar to Notre Dame de Paris…and every other Gothic cathedral I’ve seen this fall. It’s grand and tall and imposing.
But then we got to the real attractions (at least for me, personally): the work of Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona’s most famous architect. The first building of his we visited was La Sagrada Familia, his personal take on a Gothic cathedral.
Doesn’t it kind of look like someone attacked a Gothic cathedral with acid, and it started melting? Gaudi nearly refused to use straight lines in his work; he createdstring models to design his buildings and focused on light and nature for inspiration. The inside of the cathedral is supposed to resemble a forest.
Can you see the tree trunks and canopy? Gaudi’s buildings are all nature-inspired, and we saw more of this when we visited Casa Milo and Casa Batllo, two houses/apartment buildings that Gaudi built in the center of Barcelona.
We only saw Casa Mila from the outside, but you can see Gaudi’s refusal to use straight lines again here. 😛
Casa Batllo was a must-see attraction: there is a 3D video/audio guide tour through the house, that went very in-depth in it’s description of all of Gaudi’s design choices and inspiration. The house alternately resembles an undersea scene, a dragon, a tower of masquerade masks, or the sky. The inside is design to let the same amount of light in to each of the many floors, so windows change sizes and wall colors change hue to allow for maximum dispersal of sunlight.
As far as food goes, well…we got tapas twice, churros and chocolate twice, empanadas once…and churros again?
We also got some exercise in, biking along the beach and through the city center!
But it was mostly food 😛
Now I’m off to take final exams, then flying back to Caltech in January after a brief stint at home for the holidays. Happy holidays, by the way! I hope your exams are short and your celebrations are merry 🙂