Barcelona, Catalan Identity, and Gaudí

Written By: Isabelle Giaquinto’ 26 (Session 2)

We arrived in Barcelona on the evening of Thursday, July 27. Our first site in this beautiful city was Parque Güell on Friday morning. Originally an exclusive development for only the most elite residents of Barcelona, this park showcases ceramic architectural elements in the signature modernist style of Antoni Gaudí, as well as beautiful gardens. 

Gaudí was a Catalan modernist architect that lived from 1852 to 1926 and designed a number of buildings that are now extremely famous. The most famous of his projects, the Sagrada Familia, is the largest unfinished Catholic church in the world. Gaudí designed this beautiful building, and its construction began in 1882. With many delays caused by funding, the Spanish Civil War, and the untimely death of the architect himself, this project is not expected to be finished until around 2032. Nevertheless, this church is truly one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture I have ever seen. Throughout the tour we took of the Sagrada Familia on Friday afternoon, our guide gave us insight into how Gaudí’s mind worked. The architect did not particularly favor the traditional gothic arches and flying buttresses of other churches, because he did not like that these structures limited the amount of natural light inside the churches. Instead, Gaudí looked to nature for inspiration and decided to use chain arches to construct the church to allow for maximum natural light. This design concept definitely paid off, as the amount of natural light that floods the Sagrada Familia through the stained-glass windows is breathtaking. Gaudí’s incorporation of nature into every aspect of his designs is so beautiful and so unique, it is simply amazing.

Aside from the incredible work of Gaudí, the Barcelona atmosphere was so lively and fun. It is such a beautiful city with so much to do and see, and the strong sense of Catalan identity permeates almost every aspect of life. There were symbols of Catalonia everywhere, whether it be in graffiti, flags, or the magnets in tourist shops. There are also so many delicious traditional Catalan foods to try! My personal favorite is fuet, a dry-cured pork sausage. Overall, this Barcelona excursion was super fun and we all learned so much!

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