The first port of call on our Mediterranean cruise was Barcelona. For earlier blogs in this series click on the TAG CLOUD on “MEDITERRANEAN REFLECTIONS”. I decided to take a step back to 46 years earlier in my life ——— the days of England winning the World Cup.
I went to Sheffield University in 1966 to study architecture. I was immediately enchanted by the Art Nouveau movement, mainly as a result of some excellent history of architecture lectures by Professor John Tarn. That fascination has lasted with me to this day. One architect in particular stood out in my mind – Antonio Gaudi.
A year later on only my second big adventure abroad, I travelled down through France to Spain in my Dad’s car, with my friend Alan Dodd driving. We ended up by chance in Barcelona to be greeted by the remarkable Holey Holy Spires of the Sagrada Familia Basilica. You could spot it from miles away singing “come and see me, I am different”. And it was certainly was.
Still under construction after nearly 100 years, it was covered in scaffolding. The floorscape was littered with chunks of stone waiting to be carved. It was no hive of activity, there were only a few workers around, because money was running out to complete the building. Gaudi died in 1926 but they were still working faithfully to his designs. No straight lines anywhere, holes piercing the structure at every opportunity, soaring parabolic arches – nothing like the formal rigid structures of the gothic cathedrals I had seen before. A masterpiece of engineering that takes your breath away.
Now 45 years later on my Mediterranean cruise, I am returning for the first time.
As you drive through Barcelona, you can see signs of Gaudi’s influence almost everywhere you go. Even on some of the main streets crowds of admirers draw attention to his buildings.
But it is not until you approach the Basilica of Sagrada Familia that you really appreciate the full magnificence of the Gaudi’s genius.
Nothing and everything has changed. It is still under construction with many years to go. Much has been added but my memory cannot recall what exactly is new or old. The wonderment is still there and the progress immeasurably increases the experience.
What a tour de force from just one man! Gaudi had a unique vision but it took and will still take a team of workers and supporters to help him realise it.
What you can see on this blog is just the outside of the building which is all I could see forty odd years ago because visitors weren’t allowed inside the building which was still under construction. My next blog will talk about my experience 46 years later.