Montserrat

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One final post (this really is the last) about our summer trip to Spain.

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We’d bought Montserrat tickets which included our underground travel to and from the mainline station, a return train journey, cable car rides, two funicular trains and entrance to a small audio-visual museum. (A luxurious novelty to experience an integrated transport system). All this to get us to the spectacular…

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Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey.

Apparently the Monastery was founded in the 10th Century, although many of the current buildings are deceptively modern.

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The Basilica…

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..outside, and…

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…in.

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The Basilica houses a famous Black Madonna, la Moreneta ‘the little dark one’, but there was a very long queue to visit her in her position at the back of the Basilica, and we were keen to explore further afield.

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We visited the audio-visual museum, where we watched a couple of short films: it seemed mainly to be an advert for the choral school which is based here. We could have bought a more expensive ticket which would have included lunch and entrance to another museum, but we were happy with our usual packed lunches and in the end didn’t really have time to fit in the other museum anyway.

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I was very struck by this statue. The face, despite appearances to the contrary, is concave rather than convex – a sort of three dimensional negative image.

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The situation of the monastery is amazing, nestling amongst the crags of Montserrat (serrated mountain). Incidentally – if you were thinking that Montserrat is an island in the Caribbean, then you were right – it was named, by Columbus, in honour of the Monastery and la Moreneta.

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What looks like a waterfall in the back of the photo above is actually one of the two funicular railways at Montserrat.

This…

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…is a view from near the station at the top of the line.

Several paths leave the station, including one to Sant Jeroni, the highest point on the mountain.

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We opted for a shorter route which wound its way around the hillside and back to the monastery.

We were entertained on our walk by grasshoppers, lizards and butterflies.

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I’ve seen grasshoppers like these before in France. Although ostensibly brown, when they leap they open their wings to briefly reveal a startlingly flash of aquamarine.

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The views were extensive.

And there were rocky knolls just off the wide track to tempt intrepid explorers…

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A wayside chapel.

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This is the other funicular…

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It descends below the monastery. Only one path leads away from the lower station, skirting around the base of impressive crags.

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The Cable Car!

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Past numerous religious sculptures.

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To another tiny chapel perched on the hillside.

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From there we had to rush somewhat in order to catch the funicular back to the monastery, then the cable car and our train back to Barcelona. We’d packed a lot in without by any means managing to see everything –  the ‘other museum’, for instance, is reputedly stuffed with art treasures and is almost certainly worth a look. And I’m sure the long round trip to Sant Jeroni would be spectacular (it’s apparently something of a right of passage for the youth of Catalonia to climb it at night). Next time!

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Montserrat

Barcelona – More Buildings

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Fundación Antoni Tapies.

Continuing our casual architectural tour of Barcelona.  First this crazy building, which houses the foundation set-up by Antoni Tapies as a home for his own artwork.

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Just around the corner from there…

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Casa Batllo, another Gaudi designed building. With a massive queue outside.

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Right next door to Casa Batllo…

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Casa Amatller. Apparently this block (the block of discord) is renowned for its modernist buildings.

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I was very struck by this one. It even had its own George and Dragon.

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And you could pay to take a tour (should you so wish) without the huge queues (or price I suspect) next door at Casa Batllo.

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We contented ourselves with a sneaky look in the entrance hall.

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The third famous building in the block (though I didn’t know it at the time) is Casa Lleo Morera…

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A little bit of lazy internet research suggests that the interior is stunning, although I’m not sure that it’s open to the public. I would have particularly liked to get up onto the roof to have a look at this….

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…folly?

Tempietto apparently, at least according to wikipedia.

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We used water fountains a great deal whilst we were in Barcelona, none more elaborate than this one.

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Our wander had brought us to Placa de Catalunya which has become quite familiar. This was handy because we wanted to get some tickets from the Tourist Information offices below the square.

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Then we’re off again to find one final Gaudi property…

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Casa Calvet.

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A few blocks away from there…

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…the Palau de la Musica Catalana.

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The older part of the building looked amazing, but in the narrow streets quite difficult to get a clear view for a photo.

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And that, finally, is the last of my Barcelona photos, though there are an awful lot more on my flickr account and one more post from our trip to Spain to come.

Barcelona – More Buildings

Barcelona – Casa Comalat

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We were using a tourist’s street map to navigate our way between Gaudi buildings, but inevitably perhaps, we stumbled across other places of interest en route. On the tree lined Avinguda Diagonal it was difficult to get a clear view of this tall building.

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But these very rounded windows and balconies seemed to me reminiscent of Gaudi’s designs. Sadly I didn’t realise that the building has another, very colourful, facade on an adjacent street.

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Or that the interior is richly decorated in a very distinctive style. (Guided tour available here if you are interested).

I was particularly taken by the door…

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Is this Art Nouveau?

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Barcelona – Casa Comalat

Barcelona – Casa de les Punxes

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After a day at the beach, or possibly a day at the wonderfully odd sea-water swimming pool at Zona de banys del Forum, we had another ‘Gaudi’ day – wandering around the city using our tourist map to find some Gaudi designed buildings.

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It’s possible to look inside many of them but it always costs something, and usually quite a bit, so we contented ourselves with window-shopping.

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I’m no expert on architecture (or anything else for that matter), but I do know that I like what Gaudi did.

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In our wandering, we came across other buildings, designed by other, less celebrated, architects, which I also appreciated.

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So what will follow is a series of posts, mainly photos, from our ramble around Barcelona.

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Barcelona – Casa de les Punxes

Barcelona -Sagrada Familia

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You can’t really visit Barcelona without taking a look at the Sagrada Familia.

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It’s another place which TBH and I have visited together before, on our previous flying visit to Barcelona. We certainly didn’t book in advance then, and I don’t think we had to pay either, but these days both are necessary and it’s quite expensive. We’d saved a little by booking an early evening slot for our visit.

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Anyway, it was well worth it – it’s an amazing building. I’m sure my photos don’t come close to doing it justice.

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It’s also a work in progress. I would love to come back when it’s finished (current projection is 2026).

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Serial masochists (i.e. regular readers) will know that I like visiting churches and cathedrals, and that when I’m there I’m particularly fond of stained glass windows.

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The multi-coloured windows of the Sagrada Familia, and the amazing way they lit the space, were the highlight for me.

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I’m not sure if you can get a sense of it from these pictures but it was stunning.

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A magic square! I haven’t made good on my resolve to use it in a lesson yet. I wonder what the significance of the total 33 is – unless it’s the obvious one? I presume that the figures here are Jesus and Judas.

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If you are making a visit, it’s worth factoring in some time to take a look at the small museum within the Basilica which holds many of the scale models, some of them pretty big,  which Gaudi used when he was working on his designs for the building.

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