The Mediterranean Modernistes of Barcelona
Published on 06/10/2008 in Spanish Culture
Located on the north-eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula and the shores of the Mediterranean, Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain and capital of Catalonia.
The popularity and recognition of Barcelona as an internationally significant city can be partly attributed to the legacy of Gaudi and the other Modernistes who contributed largely to the unique and instantly identifiable architecture that acts as a constant reminder of where you are when visiting this multifaceted city.
The architect Antoni Gaudi was a strong supporter of the Moderniste movement, which was centred on Barcelona. A stroll through the city itself presents you with numerous opportunities to get a close-up of some fine examples. Inspired by the various forms of nature, Gaudi's work is renowned for use of coloured tiles and mosaic patterns and his distinctive style can be seen throughout Catalonia's capital city.
If you fancy experiencing this for yourself then a good starting point is La Sagrada Familia; one of Gaudi's most famous works in Barcelona. Under construction since 1882, which continues to this day, this giant temple is a magnificent sight, and the museum inside gives you a glimpse of the stone masons hard at work carving the stones that they hope will help to finally complete the construction of this notorious landmark.
Park Güell is another place of interest on the Moderniste map and one of Barcelona's largest urban parks. Commissioned by Catalonian business man Eusebi Güell, the park was originally intended to be an English style garden. Created by Gaudi for the Barcelona aristocracy to enjoy, Park Güell contains some stone structures and buildings that are unrivalled anywhere else in the world in terms of their distinctive and slightly eccentric qualities.
If you're feeling energetic then a climb to the top of the park rewards you with a terraced area where you can have a seat, relax and become immersed in the excellent views across the city. You can also find a museum in Park Güell, where the building itself used to be Gaudi's home and has been known to contain some interesting artefacts to peruse.
Other greats of architectural Modernisme include Josep Puig i Cadafalch and Lluis Domenech i Montaner. Cadafalch is considered one of the last of representatives of Art Nouveau and his works in Barcelona include Baró de Quadras with its contrary facades. Montaner is responsible for the Palace of Catalan Music (Palau de la Musica Catalana), a grand concert hall which opened in 1908 and is a now a world heritage site.
This is only the tip of the Moderniste iceberg and you could easily wile away a weekend break or week long trip to Barcelona exploring the huge variety of sights and attractions. The variation of activities on offer are complemented by the choice of hotels in Barcelona and with excellent rail and air links to the rest of Europe and beyond, you could be experiencing the Moderniste movement firsthand in no time.
Written by: Isla Campbell
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