We continued our explorations into Antonio Gaudí’s architecture today by taking a bus tour to visit a number of his other works in Barcelona. First stopping at Park Güell, we got to explore the park on foot and learn about the different ways that Gaudí applied his unique style to the public venue. It features various elements but notable ones consist of: a bench which is more than 100 meters longer, winding columns and tunnels, and two buildings reminiscent of gingerbread houses, and a large, tiled salamander fountain which sprays water from its mouth.
Our next stop was Casa Batlló. Central to Barcelona, this house was remodeled by Gaudí in 1905. With 6 floors and an open rooftop, Gaudí went out of his way to make his mark in every corner of the building. The walls are tiled in white and blue in ways similar to Park Güell and La Sagarada Familia. The halls are adorned with caternary “Ideal” arches. The smoothly curved surfaces and spiral staircases that Gaudí valued so highly can be found throughout the house’s wandering halls.
The day concluded with Paella, a traditional Spanish meal and a trip across the gondola which carries people near the top of Parc de Montjuic, the location of many of the stadiums and facilities for the Olympic Games held in Barcelona in 1992. Truly a busy day!
Today we visited what many believe to be the finest architecture that Spain has to offer. Many still would argue that its domain stretched far beyond the country it was built in. La Sagrada Familia began construction in 1882 and is still under development today, it is the crowning achievement of Spanish architect Antonio Gaudí. Gaudí was the lead architect up until his death in 1926. Having died at 73, more than half of his life was dedicated to building this magnificent basilica. A very religious man by nature, it was his goal to capture the bible in stone through building this church.
The building shatters norms in its construction, which deviates heavily from any sort of contemporary architectural work. The arches it is constructed from are known as “ideal arches”. The mirror image in shape of a rope or chain suspended in the air by its two ends, these arches distribute stress perfectly across themselves, with no tensile forces present and no frictional forces necessary to uphold the structure. After Gaudí’s death, work on the basilica has continued faithfully thanks to the numerous, enormous models that he built during his career. Some of them were more than 8 feet tall!
The entire structure is dotted with mathematical and mechanical curiosities. One example is this “magic square”. Usually puzzle for the arithmetically inclined, one is tasked to fill each space in the square so that every row, column and diagonal adds to the same number. In this case, the square has been solved so that the “magic number” is 33, the age of Jesus at his death.
This morning, Dr. Hennessey continued his lecture on ruled surfaces. This interesting application for the homogenous transformations we learned yesterday allows architects to devise brilliant and complex geometries for architectural elements like Solomonic columns or barrel arches. Many of these elements were envisioned by Catalonian architect Antonio Gaudi while supervising the construction of La Sagrada Familia – a yet unfinished Roman Catholic basilica in Barcelona considered to be one of the most outstanding architectural accomplishments in the world.
Following our lecture, we left to visit La Catedral de Granada. This cathedral is unique in that its construction did not begin until the 16thcentury, where most others in Spain began far earlier.
The chapels enormous columns and vacuous arches inspired wonder in many of us. The space is filled with some of finest works of gold, marble and stone that 16thcentury Spain had to offer. The cathedral took 181 years to complete, and its construction was interrupted several times, once by the Spanish Civil War, others by the deaths of its chief architects. As we left, we were treated to lunch at a local restaurant by Dr. Hennessey and Dr. Shakiban. Not long after, we were on our way to the airport to make for our next city: Barcelona!