Sunday, March 6
I was relieved to have a third day in Barcelona to cover the other main neighborhood: La Eixample (pronounced eye-SHAM-plah, meaning "The Expansion"). A street called the Gran Via divides Barcelona between the Old Town (El Barri Gòtic) and the 19th century investment in a grid-plan city. Wide streets, parks, and promenades are prevalent throughout the grid plan. At each intersection, the corners of the buildings are cut off, making each an eight-sided block. The city plan coincided with the emergence of the "Modernisme" style of architecture championed by Barcelona's own Antoni Gaudí. Known as "Catalan Art Nouveau," the style uses glass, iron, brick, and tile to produce organic, non-angular objects and facades. Right angles are few; instead buildings look like they are melting. Gaudí's works look like "cake in rain." After picking up a map at the Tourist office of all of the Modernisme sites, I spent the day trying to find all of them. Along the way, I admired Gaudí's three central masterpieces: La Pedrera, La Sagrada Familia, y El Parque Güell.
However, before I started my self-guided architecture tour, I wanted to absorb the electric atmosphere of the Barcelona Marathon that I was hearing so much about at my hostel. That meant going to the Old Town, but some Modernisme would be found there too (including the magnificent Palau de la Música Catalana), in addition to the day's biggest surprise: the Barcelona City Hall.
My first stop was the Barcelona version of the Arc de Triomphe (in Catalan, Arc de Triomf). It was perfectly dramatic for the Marathon. I continued my people watching in the old city, where I discovered the Barcelona City Hall to be open for visits (Sunday only). I slipped in and gawked at the stately parliamentary-style halls, fit for a national government, let alone just a city. After the quick stop, I shot up the "Ramblas" once again and took a photo this time of the madness (Marathon is below, but "Ramblas" is in the web album).
Of the architecture tour, the "Block of Discord" was the first highlight. Three brilliant works in a row on the right side of the Passeig de Gràcia:
"Barcelona Day 3 (3-6) - La Eixample" at https://picasaweb.google.com/bradleywilliams39