The last time I came this way I was only about 5 hours north of Barcelona, in southern France. Everyone said I should go visit it. Unfortunately, Covid was sweeping the world and the European authorities had imposed a 14 day quarantine if you crossed the border. This was unmanageable, so I did other things.
But now I’m back! This trip shall not be a long one, but am determined to suck the experience dry. We are traveling by ship around the Mediterranean from Spain to the Adriatic, the core of the Roman Empire, and our first stop is Barcelona, the capital of Catalonia in the upper right-hand corner of Spain.
This town was, like everything around here, begun by the Romans, but it was never a major settlement in antiquity. Until modern dredging the harbor wasn’t substantial enough. The most famous building in this city is the Catholic basilica designed in the early 20th century by Antonio Gaudi, the Sagrada Familia.
This is a church of dazzling creativity. I have never seen anything like it. The first impression is that Gaudi was doing some very serious drugs. But in fact it all makes sense and hangs together. (And more importantly it stands up without falling down, the first requisite of any building.)
Gaudi is responding, answering if you will, the Gothic architecture of every cathedral of his time. This is what churches looked like then:
Now, look at the main door of Gaudi’s basilica:
It’s way different all right. But it’s the same, too!