Imagine a place that bends and curves at every angle like the cascading waves of the Mediterranian Sea. A place where the fireplace is carved like a roasting mushroom and the dining-room light looks down on you like an eye devoured in a whirlpool. Imagine a place where vertical vents open and close like a fish’s gills, where the glass gives you the illusion of swimming underwater and where the loft arches like the spine of a beast. A beast that sits atop this magnificent facade with shingled scales and a bulbous spine. This place breathes life as it mimics the not-so-distant sea and the beauty of nature. It is the masterpiece of the brilliant Antoni Gaudí; Casa Batlló.
Casa Batlló took my breath away as it plunged me into the depths of the Mediterranian Sea. The building is distinguishably unique as you coast down the prestige Passeig de Gràcia in Barcelona and feast upon the astonishingly colourful glass and ceramic mosaic tiles. These tiles reflect against the sun and give the illusion of a rippling lake scattered with water lilies. In front of the large windows on the main floor, there are several fine bone-like columns that appear like vines are growing out of the building. These columns are paired with balconies that look like fish-skeleton heads and a rich sandstone surface, which alludes to the house’s local name of casa dels ossos (house of bones).
When you dive through the doors of this UNESCO World Heritage modernist building, you will see that there are hardly any straight lines. Gaudí refrained from using any straight lines in his designs to make his buildings look as natural as possible. Every detail within the building is designed to mimic nature and follow the flow of the sea from the wooden winding staircases to the carefully crafted doors. In the centre of the building, there is a lightwell that begins with navy blue titles where the sun shines the most and gradually descends to lighter shades of blue at the bottom of the lightwell where the sun shines the least.
At the top of this aquatic representation, there is an arched roof with tiles that grade from green on the right side, to a deep blue and violet in the centre, to red and pink on the left side. These tiles have a metallic sheen and stimulate the varying scales of the back of a dragon. In front of the dragon, there is a turret with a blooming cross at the top, which has been speculated to represent the spear of Saint George (the patron saint of Catalonia), who plunged his lance into the back of the dragon.
The original building was made in 1877, but Josep Batlló, a textile industrialist who owned a few factories in the city, bought it in 1900 because of its location in the centre of Passeig de Gràcia. Batlló hired Gaudí in 1904 to redesign the building and only two years later, it became the underwater castle we see today.
Casa Batlló is a magnificent work of creativity and imagination that exemplifies Gaudí’s adoration of nature from the colourful tiles to the rolling walls.
CosmoCaixa is a 30,000 square meter science museum in Barcelona, Spain. The building was designed in 1904 with a Modernista style by architect Josep Domènech i Estapà. CosmoCaixa was named the first interactive science museum in Spain and is one of the largest in the country. The museum is an exciting facility of nine floors, six of which are underground, and a large patio offering views of the city. When visitors first enter the building they walk 30 meters down a gigantic spiral ramp surrounding an Acariquara tree from the Amazon. On the main floor of the museum visitors can test out science experiments first hand and produce their own waves, sandstorms, tornadoes and rock formations. A 1,000 square meter jungle greenhouse lies within the museum with 30 meter tall Amazonian trees floating above the water. This Flooded Forest contains a wide biodiversity of animals including fish, turtles, snakes, frogs, stingrays and even a capibara. The museum also hosts a planetarium, where visitors can have an interactive look at the stars, as well as many temporary exhibits, including the “Languages and the Brain” exhibit which tackles linguistics. CosmoCaixa is an exciting facility, booming with knowledge and information about life and science.
At 512 meters overlooking Barcelona stands Tibidabo, the tallest mountain in the Serra de Collserola range. At the summit of this giant mountain rests the massive Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor Roman Catholic church, designed by architect Enric Sagnier. The Romanesque fortress is built of white stone and decorated with carefully crafted peaks, intricate arches, sculptures of saints and a sculpture of Jesus with outstretched arms at the highest point. Adjacent to the church is Tibidabo Amusement Park, Spain’s longest running amusement park and Europe’s third-oldest. This park is among the oldest amusement parks in the world, with some rides dating back to the 20th century. The top of the mountain provides an outstanding view of the city, shoreline and rolling green hills. The church and amusement park are prominently visible in the city of Barcelona and provide a spectacular view when lit up at night.
Between Parc National del Garraf in the north and the town of Vilanova i la Geltru in the south lies the beach-side city of Sitges, just 35 kilometers southwest of Barcelona. The flat, white beaches are laid with fine sand that touches the clear, blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. There are 17 beaches in Sitges adjourned with palm trees and bordered with a walkway that stretches from the rocky valleys in the east to a massive golf course in the west. Sitges is widely known for its gay pride carnival from the end of February to the beginning of March and its world renowned October fantasy film festival. The photogenic setting of hills, the sea and plastered-white town makes Sitges one of the most expensive European cities to inhabit as its economy is booming with tourism and culture. Its busy narrow winding streets are full of restaurants, bars, shops, historical sites, churches and prominent art culture. This spectacular shoreline town proves to be a must-see destination to explore in Catalonia.
Gentle winds flowing through my fragrant hair,
The morning sun toasting skin so fair.
The sound of birds fills the air;
Fluttering around without a care.
Tulips fill the meadows, row by row,
With the suns vibrant rays encouraging them to grow.
So many seeds mother nature sows,
The mystery of this creation, I will never know.
Nature is beautiful; an evergreen paradise,
Care for it always, that is my advice.