Remembering Notre Dame

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Janis and I had the pleasure of spending a week in Paris in 2011 to mark our thirtieth anniversary and we loved it. One of the truly fabulous cities in the world. I’ve written about a number of our experiences there but never got around to writing about Notre Dame. We visited that grand piece of history on our fourth day.

Construction on the cathedral started in 1160 and was completed one hundred years later.  Although many of its religious icons were destroyed by the anti-clerical French Revolution, the interest sparked by Hugo’s great novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, led to a major restoration project in 1844. It has undergone various renovations ever since and was undergoing one when it caught fire on April 15th, 2019.

Notre Dame Cathedral – Sept. 20, 2011

The front facade shows its two bell towers, perhaps its most iconic feature which featured significantly in Victor Hugo’s novel.  But before ascending the towers, we took a look inside with its vaulted ceilings and magnificent stained glass windows. Regrettably, I had a piece of crap camera back in the day which doesn’t really do it justice.

Interior showing some of the stained glass and the vaulted ceiling. Much of this magnificent interior was destroyed in the fire of April 15, 2019.

The stained glass features were made possible through the use of flying buttresses.  These graceful arches on the outside of the building support the outward pressure of the walls, permitting the walls to be thinner and higher because of the reduction in mass.

The rear of Notre Dame.

But the pièce de resistance for us was the bell towers. There was a bit of a line-up as they can only be accessed by a long narrow staircase.  But it was worth the wait. Only one tower, the South one, was open to the public at the time. A narrow walkway surrounds the tower.

The walkway around the bell tower has some high metal fences added for safety. It was over one of these walls that Quasimodo threw the maniacal priest Claude Frollo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The towers are sixty-nine meters high (226 feet) and were the tallest structures in Paris until the construction of the Eiffel Tower.  The view is panoramic. The photo below shows the Pantheon to the South.

The Pantheon as seen from the South bell tower of Notre Dame. The Sorbonne University is just in front of it and the Luxembourg Gardens are to the right.

One of the interesting features of Notre Dame are its gargoyles, chimeras and Strixes.  Gargoyles are the many rain spouts sticking out from the walls at intervals. Chimeras are statues of mythical creatures with the body of a lion and the head of a goat. And Strixes are flesh-eating creatures resembling an owl or bat.

One of Notre Dame’s chimera.

We entered the bell tower and checked out the massive bells.  The largest bell, known as the bourdon, survived the French Revolution intact. Many of the other bells were melted down by the revolutionaries. All the bells have names.

The Bordon Emmanuel weighing in at 13 tons, is the largest bell at Notre Dame. It is tuned to F Sharp.

Looking up towards the skylight at the top, you can see that much of the superstructure is made of wood. Wooden construction makes it vulnerable to fire like the one that destroyed the Eastern part of the cathedral.

Looking up towards the skylight, you can see a lot of wooden planking in the superstructure making it vulnerable to fire.

After visiting the bells we took a stroll around the outer walkway which gives you some excellent vantage pints for seeing the rest of the cathedral. The picture below is a composite of two mismatched photos which I fixed up a bit with Photoshop, but the bottom left and upper right were created by autofill and are a bit distorted.  But it captures mot of the back end of the church which was destroyed in the fire.

Composite picture shows the four roof lines and the spire or flèche which were destroyed in the fire of April 15, 2019.

Below is a view of some of the flying buttresses as seen from the tower.

Flying buttresses seen from the south tower.

Walking around the parapet we enjoyed spectacular views of the entire city. We also could see the North Bell Tower. Each tower also has a small turret off to the side and is covered by a skylight.

Skylight and turrret on the North Tower.

The plaza below the front facade of the church is a popular spot for Parisians to have lunch or just sit and enjoy the sunshine. The photo below shows a riverboat going by as well as many visitors to the plaza.

Looking down on the plaza from the bell towers.

We leave our tour with a view of the spire or flèche which collapsed in the fire.  After the picture you’ll find a link to an additional photo gallery.

The spire, destroyed in the blaze.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Notre Dame and are much saddened by the fire that destroyed so much of it. It was an important piece of history and a fabulous work of art.  We are grateful that we had an opportunity to visit it eight years ago.  Below is a link to a photo gallery.

Photo Gallery: Notre Dame Cathedral

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Here are some additional photos of Notre Dame.

The imposing front facade of Notre Dame with its twin bell towers.
One wall of Notre Dame. Note the gargoyle drain spouts.
A strix on the west facade.
The massive stained glass window at the rear of the cathedral.
From the back of the church you can see the flying buttresses supporting the walls of the church.
The turret on the North Tower.
Looking north-east past the spire.
Looking down at the hospital across the street from Notre Dame.
Newlyweds posing for pictures in the plaza below the towers. Lots of pigeons in the square.
Paris with the Eiffel Tower in the distance as seen from Notre Dame’s South Tower.
The rear of the chuch.

And that’s it. Hope you enjoyed the tour.

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Rome’s Colosseum

The Colosseum is the largest amphitheatre ever built and a must-see highlight of any visit to Rome. We spent a day there before taking a Mediterranean cruise in 2011. After the cruise we spent another day in the city.

That first day had us take a hop on/hop off bus around the city and one of our hop off points was the Colosseum. We grabbed a light lunch and then walked around the perimeter.

This photo is a merge of two others. It captures the immense size of the Colosseum.

It is an ancient building and in remarkably good repair considering it is almost 2000 years old. Construction started under Emperor Vespasian in 72 AD. He died in 79 AD and did not see the building completed the following year under his heir Titus. Financed by the spoils of the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 AD, it was built with the slave labour of 100,000 Jews captured and spirited off to Rome.

Made of concrete and sand, it was large enough to accommodate 50-80,000 spectators, averaging around 65,000. Like modern stadiums, it was a venue for mass entertainment which included battling gladiators, wild animal hunts, re-enactments of famous battles, mock sea battles, dramas based on Classical mythology and public executions. Yes, Christians were fed to lions here. In fact, the Pope marks every Good Friday by a Way of the Cross procession that starts at the Colosseum to honour Christian martyrs.

The Arch of Constantine, built in 315 AD, stands near the Colosseum.

Interestingly enough, twenty years after its construction, the poet Juvenal published his Satire X which includes the following lines:

“Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.”

Juvenal is lamenting the practice of gaining political office by bribing the voters with free wheat and mass spectacles. It marked the beginning of the decline of the Roman Empire. Walking around the perimeter we were impressed by the vastness of the Colosseum and its great beauty. The two millennia since its creation have left it weathered and eroded. It underwent extensive renovations from 1993 to 2000 at a cost of 40 billion Italian lire (US$19.3 million).

This end on view of the outer wall of the Colosseum captures its great height. The outer wall is shored up by supports built during renovations.

There were originally two walls, an outer wall and an inner wall. The inner wall remains largely intact but only a small portion of the outer wall remains. It is shored up at both ends by sloped concrete supports. But even with all the renovation, you can see cracks in the facade at various places, not to mention large stones at the base which have fallen from the structure.

Some of the stone work on the facade looks precarious but didn’t seem to phase the tourists walking below.

We saw some men in gladiator garb posing with tourists on our walk as well as a wedding party. It is a popular locale for wedding photos.

The Colosseum is a popular locale for wedding photos. Did you spot them in the picture of the Arch of Constantine above?

After our cruise we visited the Colosseum once again, this time paying to go inside. Well worth the money. The inside is as spectacular as the outside and well worth the visit.

As we entered we passed a recently recovered partial statue. There is continuous archeological work going on around Rome. This partial statue was probably of a horse and rider, but we were amused by it because all that remains is, how shall we put it, a horse’s ass.

The back end of a horse is all that remains of this recently discovered statue.

Inside you get a terrific view of the hypogeum, a series of underground passages and rooms, and a partially reconstructed stage at one end. The staging, made of wood, covered the entire subterranean level during the Colosseum’s heyday. Many spectacles were staged that involved lifts and hoists moving animals, actors and stage props from below to the arena floor.

The interior of the Colosseum showing the hypogeum and a partial reconstruction of the arena floor.

The hypogeum was a later addition to the Colosseum and in its early years, at least two mock sea battles or naumachiae were staged there. This involved filling the basin with water and bringing in ships. One was staged by Titus when the Colosseum opened in 80 AD and another by Domitian in 85 AD.

It must have been quite the spectacle. Some experts figure that water supplied by aqueducts and a series of pipes and channels could fill the basin to a depth of five feet in just 35 to 76 minutes. These battles were considerably bloodier than the gladiatorial battles often staged in the arena. They involved many more people, 3000 in the event staged by Titus. Condemned prisoners were used and they fought to the death.

Shortly after the last naumachia,  the hypogeum was built which precluded staging more of these spectacles.

Some detail of the hypogeum, the underground passages and rooms used to handle actors and props before they made their way to the stage.

Up to 80,000 people filled the stadium in its prime but  little seating remains. There are many sloped angular buttresses which held the seating at one time, but now stand alone. There is a little bit of seating extant above the renovated stage area. I’m not sure if this is original or recreated for tourists.

Flying buttresses supported the original seating area.
Some seating above the stage. Not sure if this is original or a recreation.

One of the things we noticed in the Colosseum was the large number of feral cats. We noticed them outside on our earlier visit and now again inside. Not sure what it is with ancient ruins and wild felines, but we first encountered them in the walled city of Cadiz in Spain and we later came across more of them at the ruins in Ephesus.

Feral cats keep the tourists company on a visit to the Colosseum.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Colosseum and can only imagine how it must have been in its heyday, the scene of great and bloody spectacles. The fact that these extravaganzas were staged with real people fighting to the death or even put to death in contests with ferocious beasts gives one chills. But even today gore fests remain popular in movies and television shows, though these are non-lethal make-believe. In less civilized parts of the world, live beheadings and stonings of the condemned remain popular with the masses.

I’ve included an additional photo gallery as well as links to a couple of articles on naumachiae.

Sicily and Mount Etna

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To celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary we spent a week in Paris followed by a Mediterranean cruise. The first port of call was Sicily. The ship passed through the narrow strait between the island and the toe of Italy’s boot and then into the harbor of Messina, the island’s third largest city. A golden statue known as the Madonna of the Letter greets you as you enter the sheltered bay. The latin quote at its base says “Vos at ipsam civitatem benedicimus”. It means “We bless you and your city” and is a taken from a letter sent by the Virgin Mary to the people of Messina in 42 AD.

The Madonna of the Letter
The Madonna of the Letter greets ships arriving at Messina, Sicily

Sicily is the largest island in the Mediterranean and is rich in history with Greek, Roman, Phoenician and Byzantine influences. There are many ancient ruins as well as cathedrals to visit, but we opted for a trip up Mount Etna. The only volcano I had seen up close before was Mount Saint Helens in Washington state.

A bus took us along the shore road that included a number of short tunnels as we wended our way south. We stopped at the town of Giardini Naxos where we saw a copy of the Winged Nike, Goddess of Victory. The original is in the Louvre in Paris. The metal statue was created by Italian  sculptor Carmelo Mendola in 1965. It stands on Cape Schiso looking out to sea. It marks the spot where Greeks landed to found a colony in 734 BC.

Winged Nike at Giardini Naxos, Sicily
Winged Nike at Giardini Naxos, Sicily

From there we went up the coast to the small town of Giarre where we visited the artisan jewelry factory of Gival. It is located in a grand old mansion, a beautiful building which features gilt ceilings in its spacious lobby.

The ceiling at Gival Jewelry
The magnificent ceiling at Gival Jewelry

In the basement we saw a number of artisans at work. Later we were treated to complimentary drinks and snacks. The banquet room had a display of seven swords in a fan shape on the wall.

Artisans at work making jewelry
Artisans at work making jewelry
Swords on display in the banquet room
Swords on display in the banquet room above the table of goodies

After we left the jewelry place, we took a long and winding road up Mount Etna, passing a number of vineyards along the way. The road took us to the Sylvestri Crater, the highest point you can reach by car or bus (1900 metres). Etna erupted at this point in 1892 but it has been dormant since then. The Google Earth map below shows the crater.

As you can see, there is a restaurant nearby as well as a large parking lot. The entire complex straddles a lava flow from higher up. The landscape is stark and almost barren. A few grasses have managed to emerge in places.

The Sylvestri Crater
The Sylvestri Crater

A roadway between the restaurant and the parking area runs right over the lava flow. This flow, a guide told us, is less than twenty years old. Etna is still a very active volcano. Unfortunately, some people don’t know how to take pride in this piece of heritage and litter could be seen on the lava.

A fair amount of litter was evident on the lava flow.
A fair amount of litter was evident on the lava flow.

Nearby was a gondola ride to a higher elevation. It was a bit foggy on the day we were there so we did not go higher. But what we saw was spectacular. I’d love to be there when Etna is actually erupting. That would be one heck of a sight!

Hardened lava is everywhere.
Hardened lava is everywhere.

After some time on Mount Etna, we took the bus back to our ship. I’ve got more pictures in the accompanying Photo Gallery. And a few additional links.

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Photo Gallery: Sicily

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The city of Messina, Sicily
Janis and I near Gardini Naxos
Janis and I near Gardini Naxos
The Gival Jewels Factory is in a beautiful Italian heritage home.
The Gival Jewels Factory is in a beautiful Italian heritage home.
Even the front yard sports some marble statuary.
Even the front yard sports some marble statuary.
The chandelier in the lobby.
The chandelier in the lobby.
An artisan at work.
An artisan at work.
Stark landscape near the Sylvestri Crater on Mount Etna.
Stark landscape near the Sylvestri Crater on Mount Etna.
Janis with a giant lava boulder.
Janis with a giant lava boulder.
Walking around the Sylvestri Crater
Walking around the Sylvestri Crater (on the left). The car park area is on the leftover the lava field. You can see a plume of mist on the left from a steam vent. 
Lots of trails to walk here.
Lots of trails to walk here.
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The Sylvestri Crater immediately in the foreground. 
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The long winding road back down to sea level.
Many vineyards along the way.
Many small towns and vineyards along the way.

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Photo Gallery: La Rambla and More

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Here are some more pictures from our last day in Barcelona.

Riding the Hop On Hop Off bus
Riding the Hop On Hop Off bus
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A neat old building we passed on the tour. But I don’t know what the building is. If you know, please let me know.
Another close-up view of Casa Mila - La Pedrera
Another close-up view of Casa Mila – La Pedrera
Cable Car Tower Near the Waterfront
Cable Car Tower Near the Waterfront
A reproduction of the Ictineo II, the world's first true submarine.
A reproduction of the Ictineo II, the world’s first true submarine.
Another sculpture along Barcelona's waterfront
Another sculpture along Barcelona’s waterfront
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One of several ultra-modern buildings of the Fenosa Natural Gas Company.
The beginning of La Rambla
The beginning of La Rambla
Hedgehogs are among the exotic pets you can get on La Rambla
Hedgehogs are among the exotic pets you can get on La Rambla
Living statues on La Rambla
Living statues on La Rambla
Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas on La Rambla
Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas on La Rambla
Jack again
Jack again kibbitzing with a couple of teens
The Hotel Ginebra overlooking the Plaça de Catalunya
The Hotel Ginebra overlooking the Plaça de Catalunya
Another view of the Hotel Ginebra
Another view of the Hotel Ginebra

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Barcelona: La Rambla and More

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After visiting the Parc Güell, the four of us split paths with the wives opting for shopping and Chris and I deciding to take the Hop On Hop Off and get an overview of the city before meeting the girls later to wander up La Rambla. The Barcelona Bus Turistic has three different routes and we took the western route which took us past the Olympic Stadium as well as the waterfront.  One of the first buildings we passed was the Casa Mila, better known as La Pedrera. This is one of the buildings designed by Antonio Gaudi.

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La Pedrera, designed by Antonio Gaudi and built from 1906-1912

The Summer Olympics were held in Barcelona  in 1992 and many of the buildings and public spaces are a lasting legacy. The Montjuic Communications Tower is in the Olympic Park and was used to transmit television coverage of the games.

The Montjuric Communications Tower is 446 foot tall tower designed as a stylized Olympic runner carrying a torch.
The Montjuric Communications Tower is 446 foot tall tower designed as a stylized runner carrying the Olympic Flame.

The Olympic Stadium is still used and was home to Barcelona’s football team until 2009. Many rock concerts are staged there. It was built in 1927 and completely renovated for the 1992 Olympics.

The Olympic Stadium
The Olympic Stadium

Cable cars run from Montjuic to the waterfront and are very popular though we did not go on them. The bus took us past the waterfront where we got off to explore on our own before meeting the ladies.

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The cable cars offer a great view of the city and the waterfront

Barcelona’s waterfront is amazing. Extensive broad pedestrian paths, many shops and restaurants and a lot of intriguing public art. There is a lot of interesting architecture. One prominent feature is a giant sculture of a fish, El Peix, by Canadian architect Frank Gehry. Gehry is also known for the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the Experience Music Project in Seattle.

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Broad plazas and interesting architecture abound on the waterfront. The golden fish sculpture is by Canadian designer Frank Gehry.

Another sculpture is of Gambrinus, a giant lobster. It used to be the mascot of a restaurant called Gambrinus. When the restaurant closed down, the city bought and restored the lobster as public art. A right friendly looking chap he is!

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The unusual sculpture of Gambrinus, the giant lobster.

At one end is a large public beach. The Spaniards are not as prudish as some and topless sunbathing is common here.

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Barcelona’s beautiful beach

We walked up the beach and out along the breakwater, stopping to dip our toes in the Mediterranean for the first time. The breakwater is popular with fishermen and just for walking along.

Out on the breakwater
Out on the breakwater

We walked back past the Spanish Natural Gas Company’s building and along the boardwalk to the statue of Christopher Columbus to meet the ladies. Along the way we noticed many parked motorcyles as well as places where you could rent bicycles. Bikes and motorbikes are very popular in Barcelona.

Bicycles for rent!
Bicycles for rent! These are like a ride share program and you have to be a member to use the bikes. You just pick one up from one of the many locations and cycle to another close to where you want to go. Lock it up and pick up a new bike when you’re ready to head back.
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The statue of Christopher Columbus is in a square at one end of La Rambla

The statue is at the end of La Rambla, Barcelona’s famous street market, and the four of us headed out to take in the sights. And sights there were. The street is full of stands selling a myriad of different products. Fruits, vegetables and other foodstuffs, to be sure, but also exotic pets – ferrets and hedgehogs, as well as a lot of birds.

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Food stalls on La Rambla
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Exotic pets for sale on La Rambla.

There were also a lot of street entertainers. Very popular are the human statues, people dressed in colourful costumes and posing as statues until someone drops a coin in the hat at which they become quite animated.

A colourful human statue
A colourful human statue

There were also a number of entertainers dressed as popular cartoon or movie characters. We saw one dressed as Jack from The Nightmare Before Christmas, and another as Edward Scissorhands. Drop a coin in Ed’s box and he would pretend to snip your hair.

Finally we got to the end of la Rambla – the Plaça de Catalunya. A number of hotels and other buildings overlook the square, a central meeting place for many. We had dinner at one of the restaurants near here.

Plaça de Catalunya
Plaça de Catalunya

After dinner we wandered around for a while. We wanted to see the Sagrada Familia at night, which we did. Along the way we noticed great crowds outside every pub and bar. The local football team was playing their great rivals, Madrid and everyone wanted to catch it on television. The home team won and Barcelona became a sea of honking vehicles and flag-waving crowds. A fitting end to our last day in Barcelona.

Sagrada Familia at night
Sagrada Familia at night

We loved Barcelona and it is definitely on our list of cities to visit again!

Click on the Photo Gallery link below for more pictures, or just scroll on down if you are on the main page.

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Photo Gallery: Parc Güell

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Here are some additional photos of our visit to Parc Güell.

From the metro station we took some narrow side streets to the park, including this very steep one.
From the metro station we took some narrow side streets to the park, including this very steep one.
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There is a large natural park behind the terrace. Gaudi wanted to preserve a lot of wilderness in the original plans for Güell’s ambitious project.
The Porter's Lodge, now a gift shop
The Porter’s Lodge, now a gift shop
The Warden's House, originally meant to house offices
The Warden’s House, originally meant to house offices
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Ceiling mozaic above the lower terrace
Janis, Chris and Sheila sitting at the top of the staircase entrance to the park.
Janis, Chris and Sheila sitting at the top of the staircase entrance to the park.
Underneath one of the viaducts. Buskers are a common sight during busy days.
Underneath one of the viaducts. Buskers are a common sight throughout the park on busy days.
We head up onto the viaduct
We head up onto the viaduct
Janis and Sheila and some very large planters on the viaduct
Janis and Sheila and some very large planters on the viaduct
The two buildings at the base of the entrance to the park
The two buildings at the base of the entrance to the park
Looking up to the upper terrace
Looking up to the upper terrace
Inside the gift shop
Inside the gift shop
Looking at the Warden's House from a window in the gift shop
Looking at the Warden’s House from a window in the gift shop
A couple of grottos at the entrance to Parc
A couple of grottos at the entrance to Parc Güell. Buskers often entertain in them.
The Warden's House from the street
The Warden’s House from the street

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Barcelona: Parc Güell

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On our last full day in Barcelona we wanted to see everything we had missed so far. A tall order. On our first day we had explored the fabulous Sagrada Familia. On our second day we took a side trip to Figueres to check out the Dali Museum. So we started our third day with a visit to Gaudi’s other masterpiece, the Parc Güell.

We hopped a metro to the Plaça des Lesseps station which is just a fifteen minute walk from the park. Visitors are warned to beware of pickpockets in Barcelona and we encountered one on leaving the station. I was walking up the steps on the right side holding onto the handrail when a young guy came up quickly behind me and tried to barge his way between me and the handrail, but my friend warned me and I held my ground. He went up the stairs empty-handed. When we got to the top I pointed at him and shouted out a warning, “Watch out! That man is a pickpocket.” He gave me an angry scowl and slunk back down into the train station.

The fifteen minute walk took us through some narrow streets and up a fairly steep hill which did have an escalator. When we emerged, there was the elevated plaza that is the centrepiece of the park.

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Our first view of the Parc Guell. Our route took us right to the top of the plaza.

Parc Güell was conceived as a housing development by banker Eusebi Güell. He had acquired a large plot of land on Carmel Hill and commissioned Antoni Gaudi to design the development which was to have sixty upscale houses. Work on the project started in 1900 and continued through 1914 but a variety of factors – complex leaseholds, lack of transportation, and the exclusive nature of the project – doomed the project to failure and only two houses were built, neither designed by Gaudi.

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The upper terrace on its 84 Doric columns and edged by the wave bench.

What Gaudi did build was the central terrace, supported by 84 Doric columns, as well as the central staircase leading to the lower terrace. And at the base of the staircase, two buildings – a porter’s lodge and an office (now called the Warden’s House) are pure Gaudi, built when he was at the height of his creative powers. And so were several viaducts, created in Gaudi’s distinctive organic style.

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The Warden’s House, originally designed to hold offices,  and the Porter’s Lodge, both built by Gaudi as part of the entrance area of the park.  The two spires above the apartment building to the left in the background are the Sagrada Familia, another of Gaudi’s master works.

Güell died in 1918 and his heirs sold the property to the city. It opened as a municipal park in 1926.

The terrace is bordered by a long serpentine bench, sometimes called the wave bench. Like many of Gaudi’s works from this time, the bench is inlaid with colourful tiles. The upper terrace commands a brilliant view of the city and the Mediterranean in the distance. Looking down from the terrace, you also see the Porter’s Lodge and the Warden’s House, both also richly covered in mozaic tiles and reflecting Gaudi’s naturalist style – lots of curves.

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Janis and I on the wave bench at Parc Güell, the spire of the Porter’s Lodge behind us.

We descended to the lower terrace and marvelled at the mozaic ceiling between the columns supporting the terrace. The lower terrace itself is often frequented by buskers providing some entertainment for the many visitors.

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Janis on the lower terrace.

From the lower terrace we walked down the sweeping staircases and admired the giant mozaic salamander that is the centrepiece and a hallmark of Gaudi’s style.

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The giant mozaic slamander. We were there on a Saturday and it was very busy – a very popular place with locals as well as tourists.

We then followed a path underneath one of the viaducts. These large structures were quite different in style than the buildings and terrace. The supports and decorative elements were more reminiscent of the Sagrada Familia – a tawny jumble of stonework just piled together. No smooth lines except in the aggregate. Graceful and delicate looking despite the rough hewn edge.

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Along a path taking us beneath one of the viaducts.

Beneath the viaduct we came across another busker playing his instrument, and the path then took us past the Casa Museu Gaudi. This house was built as a show home for the Park Güell residential project by by Gaudi’s right hand man, Francesc d’Assís Berenguer i Mestres and Gaudi lived there from 1906-1925. It is now a museum dedicated to Gaudi and his works. We did not tour the museum.

The Casa Museu Gaudi
The Casa Museu Gaudi

We then walked over the viaduct and back down to the Porter’s Lodge which is open to the public as a gift shop.

The Porter's Lodge
The Porter’s Lodge

Inside we found curved spaces everywhere. Gaudi was fond of curves and used them to good advantage. A narrow winding staircase took us upstairs. From the windows we caught a good view of the sweeping stairs leading up to the terrace.

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Curved spaces in the Porter’s Lodge Gift Shop
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The staircases and terrace that form the entrance to Parc Güell

On leaving the gift shop we came across another busker playing in one of the grottos at the base of the staircase. It was an interesting instrument, both percussion and stringed. He hammered at the strings with mallets creating a very pleasant sound.

As we were about to leave Parc Güell we came across someone in a salamander costume. He had a helmet to match which you could wear to pose for pictures with the man. For a modest fee, of course!

Chris and the salamander man
Chris and the salamander man

We had an enjoyable tour of this popular venue and still had time for more. But the wives and the men had different ideas of fun. So while our wives went shopping, Chris and I jumped aboard the Hop On Hop Off bus and took a last tour of Barcelona. We arranged to meet up with the ladies in the late afternoon at the statue of Christopher Columbus on the waterfront, after which we would explore another must-see Barcelona venue, La Rambla. And that will be the subject of my next post!

Please click on the link below to see an additional photo gallery of the Parc Güell or if you are on the main page, just scroll down. I’ve included links to official websites for the park and for the Gaudi House Museum.

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Photo Gallery: The Dali Museum

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Here are some additional photos from our visit to the Dali Museum in 2009.

The town square at Figueres, across the street from the railroad station.
The town square at Figueres, across the street from the railroad station. Yes, that’s a Spanish-English Dictionary Janis is holding.
Many tents were set up as artisans and merchants displayed their wares for the may Day celebrations.
Many tents were set up as artisans and merchants displayed their wares for the May Day celebrations.
The Iglesias de San Pedro or Church of St. Peter in Figueres, Spain.
The Iglesias de San Pedro or Church of St. Peter in Figueres, Spain.
Sheila, Chris and Janis waiting in line to see the Dali Museum.
Sheila, Chris and Janis waiting in line to see the Dali Museum.
Two figures on the roof near the entrance to the Dali Museum.
Two figures on the roof near the entrance to the Dali Museum. The white figure is holding a loaf of bread on its head and the gold mannequin is holding  a hydrogen atom, representing Dali’s passion for science, another of his many recurring themes.
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The curved wall that encloses the inner courtyard has recessed spaces with windows and mannequins on three levels.
Looking down on the Rainy Taxi from one of the windows surrounding the courtyard.
Looking down on the Rainy Taxi from one of the windows surrounding the courtyard.
Two crutches holding Gala's Boat.
Looking over the shoulder of a mannequin at Gala’s Boat. You can see the giant backdrop of Labyrinth through the window.
Gala's Boat
Gala’s Boat held up by two crutches, a statue called The Slave of Michaelangelo, and a stack of tires.
The Slave of Michaelangelo
The Slave of Michaelangelo
The immense reproduction of the backdrop for the ballet, Labyrinth.
The immense reproduction of the backdrop for the ballet, Labyrinth.
On an end wall, a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Close up it's a nude painting of Dali's wife Gala.
On an end wall, a portrait of Abraham Lincoln. Close up it’s a nude painting of Dali’s wife Gala.
The geodesic dome above the stage-cupola area.
The geodesic dome above the stage-cupola area.
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Exterior of the Dali Museum.  The yellow dots on the walls are bread. Eggs represented fecundity to Dali and are an important symbol.
Close-up of one of the loaves of bread dotting the outside of the museum.
Close-up of one of the loaves of bread dotting the outside of the museum.
The streets of Figueres were still busy when we left the museum.
The streets of Figueres were still busy when we left the museum.
One last look at a busy May Day in Figueres.
One last look at a busy May Day in Figueres.

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