Photo Sunday: Barcelona

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The last stop on our tour of Spain was Barcelona, and it was a fitting way to wind up the trip. One of the first sights we saw in the city was the Sagrada Familia, a famous church designed by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi and a major tourist destination. We were all a bit tired of churches by this point, but the Sagrada Familia is, at least, a little more unique and interesting than the predictably similar cathedrals we saw elsewhere in Spain. We didn’t go inside, but we did see two of its three facades, one for the nativity and one for the passion, both sculpted in Gaudi’s organic, modernist style.

As you can see from the cranes and scaffolding in these pictures, the church is still under construction. Work started in 1882 and isn’t finished yet, and some of the most ambitious parts of Gaudi’s design – including the third and largest facade, intended to depict the soul’s ascent to Heaven, as well as a central spire 560 feet tall (!) – haven’t even been started. Given Spain’s plummeting rates of church attendance, it’s rather amusing to imagine that, by the time it’s finally done, no one may be interested in going anymore.

Above and overlooking the city is the hill of Montjuïc, where the 1992 Summer Olympics was held. We stopped there to see the city in the golden hour of early evening, and I took a panoramic shot of the skyline:

The next day, we saw the mountain of Montserrat, on the other side of the city. There’s a monastery on top of the mountain that dates back to the 12th century, the main selling point of which is supposed to be the “Black Virgin”, a statue of the Virgin Mary that’s, well, black. I didn’t see the point of that. Much more compelling was that, literally on the monastery’s doorstop, there are some of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen:

(I will say, though, that the monks make and sell some excellent liquor.)

Our last night in Barcelona, we took in a show at the city’s famous fountains, which light up and dance in sync with music. I’ve seen the fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, but this was better. It was a fitting way to end to our trip!

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