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Noel Morata Photography Barcelona - Spring 2011

Beautiful Barcelona - so ancient and yet accessible and easy to manuever around. Each barri or district is filled with different and colorful venues, exciting monuments and visual delight. All the squares, the pedestrian walkways and tiny alleys are bustling with locals and tourists filling the streets, even though its not yet the peak tourist season. Still, there is much to see and enough space to wander and discover the amazing architecture and design, the museums and monuments, restaurants, beautiful gardens and Catalan art to make one quickly fall in love with every facet to this beautiful city. Take a look at some of the highlights discovered on this journey.

Expansive interior photo of the Cathedral in the Ciutat Vella or the gothic district.

In a very quiet area of the cathedral, the cloister is serene and a quiet place to be introspective and enjoy the ducks that have been living here. Underneath vaulted ceilings of old bricks are alcoved areas with marbled statuary, gilded ironwork, frescoes and elaborate chapels that are an alternative to the dark interiors of the ornate complex. A large fountain above, tucked into a corner is a welcomed rest as water trickles into a huge basin. The delicate ferns sitting on top, fluttering with a pleasant wind and the sounds of water trickling make this a pleasant place to rest and enjoy this quiet corner and away from the crowds.

Exploring the Barri Gotic or the gothic district in Barcelona is like traveling back to to ancient Roman to medieval times. Many medieval and renaissance buildings with little details at every corner that beg you to stop and take notice. You’ll discover the unique features and pure craftsmanship special to old Barcelona. Two statues from this Venetian style bridge project horizontally from their renaissance facade leading you to the Generalitat Palace - the central government of Catalonia. The Placa Reial, one of the grandest squares in the gothic district, is always bustling and filled with restaurants offering many local catalan specialties as well as the various local tapa appetizers for those looking for a light snack.

Palau de la Musica Catalana, (A concert hall built in the Catalan modernista style in 1908 by celebrated architect Domenech I Montaner) is a legendary institution and Unesco world heritage site. Its ornate Modernista or Beaux Arts exterior, its detailed interior with exquisite stained glass, elaborate mosaic and tile work, chandeliers and fine craftsmanship are loved by locals and tourists. If you have the opportunity to watching a performance here, it is truly a magical experience and a highlight to any visit in Barcelona

The stained glass central feature at the top of the domed interior is an ornate chandelier. The sheer size of it is unbelievable. Lit up for every performance, it and adds a magical quality to all the visual details to this grand and magnificent piece of architecture.

This deep blue sea monster draws you in to see some of the other giant heads of famous historical figures and fantasy figures. Even in their staged displays, the figures are quite animated, it must be quite spectacular to see these paraded into the streets during the festivities.

Palace Guell is Antoni Gaudi’s first major project designing and building a palace for the Guell family, his patron and collaborator in many Barcelona projects. Under extensive renovations, the palace has been recently re-opened to the public in June 2011. This stunning building showcases the genius and meticulous focus Gaudi placed in his projects. His visionary mastery of combining exceptional skilled masons, iron workers, wood workers, stain glass and tile makers into a cohesive group of craftsmen, created the most sumptuous palace in Barcelona. Standing in long lines is well worth the wait. The tour starts in the basement of the horse stables and leads to the main stairway and entry. The next level houses the main living areas which includes the dining, living room, main hall, concert room. Upstairs are bedrooms and baths, servants quarters and kitchen. The elaborate roof tops are also finely detailed with whimsical and brightly tiled chimney’s in an array of colorful ornamental designs.

La Segrada Familia is Gaudi’s unfinished basilica and is still being constructed to this day. His master piece is a top attraction in Barcelona and is a spiritual highlight in visiting this city. This surreal church with many ornate facades, unusual spires, animated objects and a dizzying array of sculpture is in contrast to the more soothing and spare interior. It is unlike any of the grand cathedrals in Europe. Gaudi engineered this building with innovative columns and supports to create an open and aery interior, and adds a majestic and spiritual experience. A museum in the basement shows many of the advanced and scientific approaches incorporated into the design, mixing pure artistry and craftsmanship with technological advances in engineering. Gaudi’s work is truly unique and his design aesthetic stands out from the various styles of the Modernista period.

What a treat it is to spend some time exploring this colorful market called Mercat - La Boqueria. Each unique stall is filled with exciting displays of food - a gastronomic dream come true. You want to reach out and touch every fruit, smell every spice or sample each slice of cheese- its too good and to pass on, especially when everything is picked that morning and perfectly presented.

Freshly caught, the fish here in vivid colors and no fishy smells, sit on a fresh bed of ice. Everything is spotless and beautifully presented, making it a pleasant shopping experience. The merchants here really know the fine art of display and tap into one’s I must taste that now mind set. Fresh shrimp looks plump and juicy in its raw state.

A baby piglet is on display and ready to roast for a delicious meal. The chocolates and candies on the facing page make it impossible to just look this amazing display. Wouldn’t you like to sample every thing displayed here, especially while you are on vacation, right?

Flamenco in Barcelona is rare, but the show at El Tablao de Carmen is real and magnificent to view. All the dancers are filled with Flamenco bravado and passion and you can feel and see it through their strong movements.

Local Catalan fare like this fried fish dish with potatoes, spinach and stewed vegetables are offered at a prix fixed price. A three course meal for lunch is an affordable 9 euros which is equivalent to $12 for the whole meal! Trying the local cuisine here is fun especially when there is so much variety of food in all the cafes, bars and the restaurants.

A pleasant day walking outside in many of the beautiful parks of Barcelona is a fun way to enjoy the city. The many higher elevation parks, offer wonderful panoramic views of the city below, Elaborate gardens, monuments, statues and fountains can be discovered in these green spaces and delightful for both locals and tourists. From the parks at Montjuic hill, you can visit different museums and monuments or just relax and enjoy the amazing views below. The Park de la Ciutadella and Park Guell along with a myriad of gardens and green spaces open for the public offer unique gardens with filled with mosaic fountains and benches, mastodons, whimsical buildings and magnificent monuments.

A pretty girl leaning on a life size Mastodon, what’s not to like with this type of photo?

Leaving Barcelona via its ultra modern and sleek international terminal is a smooth process. A facade of green glass, spare walls, shiny floors and boutiques with international brands - this gateway to Barcelona is very attractive and an easy way to enter and leave this magical city. The graphic abstractions to the reflections and interiors keeps the audience engaged even in this large complex.

Gracias Barcelona, disfrutamos de la visita! Copyright Š Noel Morata 2011

A Travel Journey tour of Barcelona  

My photo and written journal of Barcelona. Visiting the famous sites, barris/districts and monuments is breathtaking. This documents some of...

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