I miss London and I want to share more of my experiences in the city with you.
Last year, walking the Thames River path, near Blackfriars , I saw a white building, with a roof covered in moss. I didn’t really know what to make out of it! Was it a small castle? Was it an arena? These were the questions that were running through my mind when I noticed that many people were seating on the ground, in a cue, as they were waiting for something. I went and asked ….and it turned out to be a theater. Not just any theater, but Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, which is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre for which William Shakespeare wrote his plays!
The original theatre was built in 1599, destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1613. The theatre was rebuilt in 1614, and then demolished in 1644. This modern Globe Theatre is an academic approximation of the original one, it is considered quite realistic, though it accommodates only 1,400 spectators compared to the original theatre’s 3,000. It was opened to the public in 1997.
I’m a lover of arts, so of course, I wanted in! There were no tickets for that night, but I did buy a ticket for “As you like it,” for the following night.
I had no idea what to expect, but let me tell you this: I have been inside hundreds of cultural landmarks and this one is one of a kind. When I entered, I felt like a portal to another era has opened. Shakespeare’s era!
The theater has an arena where people stand and then there is seating across the arena, in balconies and galleries. All these have benches, wooden benches! I got one of those seats and I’m so happy I got a pillow, because….let’s put it this way, you need a cushion when you’re seating on a wood bench with no back rest for couple of hours…..
The play itself was a transformative, radical experience. Ever seen those movies where they show how old theater was done? Those ones where the audience becomes rowdy and occasionally some unlucky actors get pelted with rotten tomatoes? It’s funny, but it was just like that! The audience, including me, often exploded in ovations and laughs. But of course, there was no tomatoes or food produce throwing! This is me, happy this place where past meets present.
After the play I went to their small library, which is filled with souvenirs and great books. I couldn’t leave without buying some, one book for me and two for each of my kids :).
I think during the pandemic the Globe is closed. They have performances online, but nothing is the same as watching a play inside the venue. I think the pandemic will be over soon, wishful thinking! So…when it opens and if you are around that area, go and experience. You’ll feel as you entered the somewhat more complicated emotional world of Shakespeare.
I live in memories lately, wishing that I could have my old life back, whisking that I could take a plane to a different part of the world. I’m not tired of mine……but I am bird and I like to fly. Like most of us though, I think I am now only capable of mind flights…around the world. So, I am going to share with you few pictures and insights from a trip I took to London, the summer of last year.
London. For any it is the city where they live, where they work, where they go to the grocery store….or the restaurants. For me, it was a wonderful adventure.
I always wanted to visit this abbey, because of its impressive history. I don’t know what it is like now, it might be closed because of the pandemic, but last summer I learned that if you want to visit the abbey you should buy tickets online:). I remember getting there around 12, and the lines were huge. The Abbey is beautiful inside, the history floats in the air and is under your feet. I liked it so much that the next day I woke up early and went to the mass. I thought it’s going to be in the church but the sermon was held in the small chapel. Bummer! It was funny, because there was a girl next to me that had angels ears. She kept laughing and seemed a little bewildered. That’s when I lowered my gaze and noticed the priest’s shoes – he had style! I tried not to think about priests’ fashion and concentrate on giving thanks and praying for a better world! I still have these memories….:)
If you walk few streets from the Abbey, there is another church, Westminster Church. This one is impressive too. Cannot stop but thinking that the church was and is so powerful! They had and have a lot of money to build such impressive buildings. In this church there were many chapels, each with their history. Among other things I was impressed by the body of St John Southworth, a man that was killed in 1535 because of his faith. This made me feel sad, his body looked so small; it was enclosed in a glass shrine. His mummy was fully clothed and had a mask on his face.
Last……this is a random picture I took on the streets of London…..
Everyone should enrich their life with around the world travel…..I think I have complied with that today :).
I talked about this a while ago, but now I really miss London!
Under Waterloo train station in London, there is a place called the Vaults of London. While you admire the Graffiti on the entrance, you could easily pass by this place! If it wasn’t for my two London friends, Simon and Lisa, I would have not found this UNUSUAL, INTERESTING and ….one of a kind place!
From outside, you would never imagine the immensity inside. It is a long tunnel, all covered in Graffiti.
I hear that they change the art all the time, as new artists are coming to paint or make other unusual art pieces.
I kept looking up….I almost stumbled and fell, that’s how mesmerizing it is.
What’s even more interesting is that the main tunnel opens up into more vaults, each with their specific purpose. They even have theatre underground!
If you’re in London, check out this place! Check out their events, you’ll have a one of a kind experience!
If you are in London and a history lover, this is a place that you must visit. I went in a summer afternoon and I wish I took the whole day, because the museum is so large and so interesting. I think it’s one of the greatest museums in the world!
Do not expect the museum to be on a big street, it isn’t! Its location is not on a little street either (as it’s Picasso’s museum in Barcelona), but it’s not placed on a big avenue. I used my Google maps to find it.
The address is Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG, United Kingdom.
When you get there, there will be a line. They, of course, do security screenings and your belongings will be scanned as well as you. But the line goes fast, you wont be there for an hour; the wait is nothing like the wait for some Disney rides :).
The museum is open daily 10.00-17.30. Open late on Fridays until 20.30.
The museum is free, but there are some collections that you have to pay for (if you would like to see them!). I suggest purchasing an audio guide (there is a place to rent these, as you get in the big hall).
This picture show part of the big hall, after the entrance
The guide is very useful if you don’t have anybody else to explain the different exhibitions and to give you a tour. I used it not only to learn about the exhibitions, but also to learn about particular objects that interested me. You see, each display case has a number. If you click on your audio guide on that number, it will tell you a lot more than the written explanations on the displays (if any).
A bit of history
The British Museum was established in 1753. It first opened to the public in 1759 on the site of the current building. So yes, it’s that old! In fact, the British Museum is the oldest museum in the world!
The museum started with the collections of the Irish physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. He was a London-based doctor and scientist who married the widow of a wealthy Jamaican planter. He did not wish to see his collection broken up after death, so he bequeathed it to King George II. At that time, Sloane’s collection consisted of around 71,000 objects of all kinds. But since 1753 the collection grew to 8 million objects.
One of the funny facts about the British Museum is that it has been home a lot of cats over the centuries. They say that the most famous guard at the British Museum was a cat :). The cat name was Mike and he patrolled the gate from 1909-1929. When he died, the museum staff mourned him and his obituary was featured in TIME magazine.
The British Museum is popular in the entertainment industry. You might not know but many movie scenes were filmed here. The first movie scene ever shot in the Museum was for The Wakefield Cause, in 1921. Blackmail, by Alfred Hitchcock was also shot here and so were scenes from the Hollywood masterpiece, Day of the Jackal. Most recently, the museum was featured in the movie Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014).
Three of the most popular exhibits at the British Museum are the Oxus Treasure, the Rosetta Stone, and the Elgin Marbles.
What I liked
HM!!! I am going to talk about only what I have seen, because I didn’t get a chance to visit all!
I stopped in front of the Rosetta Stone for a while and I imagined all these people making the inscriptions. What was it like then? Who were these people? They sure left us something so we can understand them.
The Rosetta Stone has ancient hieroglyphs carved onto it and its discovery was instrumental to the translation of Ancient Egyptian writing. The stone is dating from 196 B.C. .
The Egyptian Galleries, Room 4
This room houses sculptures and artifacts from about 3,000 years of ancient Egyptian civilization. The exhibition is magnificent. The gallery is located next to the museum’s main entrance.
Room 4 is one of the largest exhibition space and it display only 4% of its Egyptian holdings. That is because it is the place for monumental sculptures…and when I say monumental I really mean it. Everything is gigantic…
This is the colossal statue of Amenhotep III also known as Amenhotep the Magnificent, was the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Look at how small people look in comparison to it…
And this is the head of the same Pharaoh Amenhotep III. This statue is dating from around 1370 BC…
This is a giant bust of Rameses II, also known as Rameses the Great. He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the New Kingdom. This is why his successors called him the “Great Ancestor”.
Standing in front of these statues made me think about these people in real life like. What was it like to be a Pharaoh? What is amazing? : ).
And there are so many other great things in this room…….but I should’t put up more pictures. You just go and see : ).
The Elgin Marbles, the department of Greece and Rome
The Parthenon Marbles, the Elgin Marbles are a collection of medieval, marble Greek Sculptures. These sculptures were brought to Great Britain in the early 1800s by the Earl of Elgin, who acquired them from the Parthenon Temple in Athens.
These sculptures were part of the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens, built between 447 and 438 B.C.
This exhibition is extraordinary …..large, many mummies. It is situated on the 4th floor.
I was looking at these mummies and I was thinking what life would have been like along the River Nile several thousand years ago. It does not take an effort of imagination to conjure back the ancient times. People, like today, believed in afterlife and the mummification was an extraordinary funerary tradition of preparing the body for the afterlife.
They also have the pictures of the CT scans of the inside the mummies’ coffins.
I was humbled while reaching the mummy of the Gabelein man. Humbled by being a human, in front of another person that exited so long ago and that now is on display in a museum….
They named this mummy “Ginger”. They said he is called this way because of his….red hair? He is placed in the fetal position which was the most common form for Egyptian burials of the time.
What I would do when I will go again
I would map the exhibitions, because I went in blind and not knowing even the floors where certain exhibitions were. This place is massive and it helps knowing where what you’re interested in is located.
I would go there earlier, not late afternoon. You can spend so many hours in the museum…
I would read more in advance about certain pieces. The mummies, the Elgin marbles and the Egypt exhibitions I have seen are so amazing and I would want to know more before I stand in front of these pieces.
I am reading a book, it’s called “Letters to the lost” by Iona Grey. It’s a beautiful love story, set in London during WW2. As I was reading it, I came across this passage that’s happening in St. Paul’s Cathedral. This sent me back to the time when I was inside it.
I didn’t know about the Whispering Gallery. I wish I knew; I would have climbed up there.
St. Paul’s Cathedral is a magic place that goes back in time. I thought this building was the start, but no!! The cathedral building has been destroyed several times and there is so much history behind it! The first on this site was a Roman temple to Diana, but the first Christian cathedral there was dedicated to St. Paul in AD 604. That cathedral burned and its replacement (built 675–685) was destroyed by Viking raiders in 962.
In 1087 a third cathedral erected on the site also burned!
The fourth one, now known as Old St. Paul’s, was constructed in the late 11th century. Its spire stood higher than the dome of the present cathedral. In 1561 the spire was destroyed by lightning (and a resulting fire) and never replaced. Then this building was destroyed in the Great Fire of London (1666), when it was caught in the flames. The lead on the roof melted and poured down on to the street like a river, or so they say. The building collapsed.
The present cathedral, dating from the late 17th century, was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It was the first Cathedral to be built after the English Reformation in the sixteenth-century, when Henry VIII removed the Church of England from the jurisdiction of the Pope! It has survived the WW2 Blitz as it is (with repairs) . What was the Blitz? It was the German bombing campaign against the UK, in 1940 and 1941. Not only London, but also provincial UK was bombed. Much of London was lost, including many iconic buildings. St. Paul’s survived probably through a miracle (or maybe because it was protected somehow). Below it’s a picture after the bombings, with St. Paul’s towering over the ruble of London. Since then, this building had become associated with the British resilience.
Who was Christopher Wren and how did he came to build St. Paul’s
After the year of the Great Plague in 1665, The Great Fire of London came! The fire happened in 1666 destroyed many of the city’s public buildings, including 88 of its churches.
Christopher Wren was commissioned to build 51 replacement churches, and that included St Paul’s cathedral. Although Wren was personally responsible for all these, probably not all of them represent his own fully developed design. Only a few are in Wren’s hand, including St. Paul’s.
Wren was many things, not only an architect. He was a scientist and he was one of the founders of the Royal Society (president 1680–82), the oldest scientific society in the world! His work was highly regarded by Isaac Newton and Blaise Pascal.
The cathedralis heavily influenced by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The construction of the cathedral took more than 40 years. In 1708, Wren’s son, Christopher Wren Jr, placed the final stone on the lantern, watched by his father below.
I think the most notable feature is the dome. The dome framed by the spires of Wren’s City churches, has dominated London’s skyline for over 300 years. It is still among the highest in the world.
Internally, the church is beautiful ,with impressive arches and naves.
There are famous people buried here.
The first person to be buried in St. Paul’s Cathedralwas its creator. Christopher Wren died in 1723. His tomb is on the south aisle in the east of the crypt.
Here you will also find the tombs of Lord Nelson, Florence Nightingale, William Blake, Lawrence of Arabia and many others.
Sunday mass, under the Dome
Picture snapped by my friend while going to the mass
I went to St. Paul’s Cathedral on a Sunday morning, with my friends. We were there for the mass, and it was wonderful.
I don’t like sermons that much, I don’t like when people tell other people what to do or not do. But I like when people learn from each other and I also like when people stand together, united in good thoughts.
Probably that’s why I felt overwhelmed, when the chorus and then everybody started to sing. Under the dome, our voices together sounded powerful, uplifting and hopeful. I think that is the definition of being human.
Together we stand, together we can do great things, each of us doing our own bit.
Across the street from Westminster Abbey is the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. I wouldn’t have known, if I had not been attracted by the beautiful façade.
This building has a symbolic location, chosen to represent the separation of powers in the UK. It is located in the Parliament Square, on the south-west corner. On one side there is the Parliament and the judiciary (this building) and on the other side there is the executive (the Treasury) and the church (Westminster Abbey). This building was built between 1912 and 1913.
The court is open to the public, so you can visit anytime Monday-Friday, between 9.30- 16.30. If the court is in session, you could also observe cases!
Pleasantly surprised, I enjoyed this visit very much. It was especially educative, as I wasn’t familiar with the court system in the UK! I found out that it is very different from the one we have in the USA.
USA and UK Supreme Courts compared
I was surprised to find out how young the UK Supreme Court was!
The US Supreme Court was established in 1790, its existence provided for the founding documents of the United States. Its presence is firmly established in the consciousness of the American public….which prompts my surprise to find out that the UK Supreme Court had only arrived in the UK judicial scene in 2009! This was almost baffling! But I guess it was only then that the judiciary separated from the Parliament. Up until then, the Law Lords, that played the key role in developing the common law in the UK, was not totally separated from the government.
Cases they handle
Both courts are the highest appellate courts in their jurisdiction of domestic law. They hear cases of great importance and only a limited number of cases each year.
The Constitution and the absence of a written Constitution
The US Supreme Court enjoys a higher domestic profile than does the UK Supreme Court. That is because the US Supreme Court is a fully fledged constitutional court. However, Britain does not have a codified constitution but an unwritten one formed of Acts of Parliament. In the absence of a written constitution that sets out clear constraints on the role of the UK Parliament, the UK Supreme Court is limited in comparison with its American counterpart.
The Judges election
In the United States all federal judges must be nominated for appointment by the President. They are appointed for life and there is no retirement age.
In the UK they are elected by a committee and then they are recommended to the monarch for the appointment. They are required to retire at the age of 70, although they may continue to serve until they are 75.
The number of judges appointed to the US Supreme Court varies over time. Currently there are nine Justices: the Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices. In the United Kingdom there are 12 judges.
UK Supreme Court judges
The building is beautiful inside. The courtrooms are adorned with beautiful paintings and art work.
At the lower floor there is an exhibition that details the history of the court and that presents artifacts.
This visit enhanced my understanding of the UK’s judiciary system and it enabled me to compare the way it operates with our own judicial system. I am grateful for this visit and I think if you’re in town you should go too!
By Thames River, very close to the London Bridge, lies The Tower of London. This is a place where about 1000 years of history have been written, a place where medieval kings and queens have lived and a place where many people have found their death.
I went to see it in an August summer day. I was lucky; the weather was just beautiful!!! But what do you know! The occasional London showers didn’t spare me! While I was waiting to see the Crown Jewels the rain was pouring down like crazy. I was lucky a man next to me came more prepared and offered to shelter me under his umbrella. Thank you!
The Tower is a big place and you should take your time visiting. You will need at least several hours. If you don’t plan to take a guided tour, you should get an audio guide, it’s really useful and gives you a lot of information as you move through the different buildings and exhibitions.
The Tower! I was fascinated …….and then horrified as I discovered the place of burial for Anne Boleyn! I’ve seen the Tudors series, and this movie gave flight to my imagination about the love story between Anne and Henry VIII…. He was so in love with her and then….he ordered her decapitation.
A fortress and a palace
The construction of what is now the Tower of London started in 1070s, when William the Conqueror wanted to build a mighty castle to defend and proclaim his royal power. The Tower took around 20 years to build.
Then Henry III (1216-72) and Edward I (1272-1307) expanded William’s fortress, adding defensive walls with a series of smaller towers.
The Tower was a fortress, e medieval palace and a prison. It also controlled the supply of the nation’s money. All coins of the realm were made at the Tower Mint until 1810. Kings and queens also locked away their jewels here and even today, the Crown Jewels are here, at the Tower.
The Crown Jewels
The jewels are displayed in the Jewel House. Waiting to see the Crown Jewels can feel like waiting in a cue for a Disney ride. It can be crowed and it can take some time to get inside, so be prepared. Also, you cannot take pictures inside; you can’t take pictures of the jewels.
This is the Jewel House, at the Tower of London, where the Crown Jewels are sheltered
The Crown Jewels have been stored and displayed at the Tower of London since 1661! They are under guard and still in use…..
A royal guard by the Jewel House, Tower of London
I’m not sure what to say about the crowns and everything that it is found inside the exhibition. They are beautiful, of course! Especially the ones with the cullinan diamonds, which are the largest diamonds ever found. Cullinan I is the largest diamond in the world and is mounted in the head of the Sovereign’s Scepter with Cross and Cullinan II, the second largest, is mounted in the Imperial State Crown.
These diamonds were discovered in Culling, South Africa in 1905 and they were named after Thomas Culling, the mine’s chairman.
To me, the jewels were not as important as the history behind them. The stories of all these people that have worn them, their lives and what happened in England during their reign. Out of all the royals that have worn these jewels, I couldn’t stop thinking about the Tudors, and about their most famous king, Henry VIII.
The White Tower and Henry the VIII
The White Tower is the main building of the fortress and it is the very first building that was built for this place.
The White Tower has four floors. The entrance to the White Tower is made on the first floor by a door accessible only by a wooden staircase. They say that at the time of construction instead of the wooden staircase it was probably a ladder….
The wooden staircase that leads to the entrance of the White Tower
“The Royal Armories” is located on the lower floor of the White Tower.The present collection took shape in the Reign of Henry VIII (1509-47).
It features many royal weapons and armor, real-size wooden horses and depictions of the different kings, set in a situation. There are few armors of King Henry VIII and also the armor of King Charles I and James II.
I cannot imagine how it must have been to be under this mountain of iron, how could you more….how could you fight!!!
The Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula
In front of the chapel is the place where scaffolds were built. Statistics say than more than 400 people were executed here.
The Chapel is perhaps best known as being the burial place of some of the most famous Tower prisoners. This includes three queens of England: Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Jane Grey, all of whom were executed within the Tower in the 16th century.
Anne, was Henry VIII greatest love, or at least one of them… She was accused of adultery and treason and she was decapitated at the tower. The place where you see the green book, it is thought to be the place where Anne is buried.
The Tower Ravens
A group of at least six captive ravens are resident at the Tower of London. These days I think there are seven. They are tended by a Yeoman Warder Ravenmaster, who is clipping their wings and feathers in order not to allow them to fly off the grounds. The Ravenmaster releases the birds from their cages and prepares breakfast for them at dawn each day.
The legend has it that should the ravens leave the Tower, both it and the kingdom will fall.
There is so much more to see at the Tower: the Tower of Torture, the Yeoman Wardens and more. You got to visit! If you like history, this is truly a wonderful place!
Walking the streets of Barcelona with my mom and my kids, I wanted to visit Picasso Museum. The museum is hard to find, I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s on a little street, almost in hiding : – ).
The street where you will find it is called Moncada Street and it has many beautiful buildings. This was the main street of medieval Barcelona which was home to the city’s nobles. On this street there are few medieval palaces, such as the Palau Aguilar, Palau Meca and Palau Baró de Castellet, which houses the Museu Picasso of Barcelona, Renaissance palaces, including the Palau de Cervelló and the amazing baroque Palau Dalmases ( here they have flamenco shows where you can enjoy the best flamenco artists in the country).
To get in the museum you have to buy tickets. But, you can also visit for free if you go in first Monday of the month.
This is a picture I took at the entrance
I liked the museum very much. The main reason why I liked it is because it showed me more of Picasso other than his cubist works that are so famous. I have heard that this is museum has one of the most complete permanent collections of Picasso’s works. To be more specific, there are 4,251 items.
It felt as the museum was an unwritten biography of the painter. Each time of his life had a different style, a different vibe, a different feel. I could tell when he was romantic, when he was mad at women….
Here are few pictures I took ….
First communion,1896. This is one of his early works. I think he was only 14 when he painted this. His sister Lola appears in this painting.
This one is a self portrait (1896). He was just a child when he painted this! Isn’t it very different than the other Picasso paintings that we are used to?
I find his early work incredibly beautiful, and I think it reveals a different side of Picasso.
Then came his blue period, then the rose period and then the African period. I’m not going to put pictures for these time periods as this post would become too long.
Then came cubism: Picasso and Georges Braque pioneered this new way of representing reality. The idea behind it was to bring different views of subjects together in the same picture( objects or figures), resulting in paintings that appear fragmented and abstracted.
After the war, some of his work has been influenced by the painter Henri Matisse, who had been both a friend and a rival for Picasso for more than half a century.
My workshop Pigeons (III) 1957
This one is one of his later works, the Dwarf Dancer 1966. I love the colors and the expression on her face; she looks mischievous.
This is a charming museum includes also some of Picasso’s lesser known works of ceramics and sculpture.
I have always had mixed feelings about Picasso. I have a deep sense of reverence for his work but at the same time I don’t like the way he has treated his women. I don’t know how much of the stories about him are true, I guess to really know you have had to live with him.
He said to Françoise Gilot, one of this mistresses that “women are machines for suffering,” and also that “for me there are only two kinds of women: goddesses and doormats.”
When they meet she was 21 and he was 61. She was his lover from1943 to 1953 and they had 2 children together. She left him and after 11 years from their separation, she wrote a memoir about her life with the painter. The name of the book is “Life with Picasso”. I read it; it is good. In the book she said that Picasso physically abused her and when she left, the infuriated genius told her that she is going to be a nobody and that she was “headed straight for the desert”. Hm, she then became a great artist, so bravo Françoise!
Françoise is just one example. Besides her, others have expressed dismal at the way he was treating his lovers. Marina, his grand daughter, saw Picasso’s treatment of women as a vital part of his creative process. She said:
“He submitted them to his animal sexuality, tamed them, bewitched them, ingested them, and crushed them onto his canvas. After he had spent many nights extracting their essence, once they were bled dry, he would dispose of them.”
I came across many misogynistic characterizations of Picasso and across fewer that present Picasso’s treatment of women in a relatively positive light. Such is his friendship with Gertrude Stein, the American novelist and poet. Hm, Mr. Picasso, I do love your work but you must have been …..a complicated man!
I am painting myself; I’m an amateur. I am closer to the impressionists and never really got into the style of cubism. After Barcelona I painted a flamenco dancer…I copied from a picture. I also bought myself a fan….
This is my flamenco dancer.
The journey through the different times of Picasso’s creation was amazing. He was truly a genius. While writing this, I’m thinking that if I would ever find myself in Barcelona, I would like to go visit the museum again.
He was such a genius and I truly enjoyed being immersed in his work.
Another Antonio Gaudi masterpiece, Park Guell is a nice place to visit if the weather is beautiful. The park was created in 1900, when Count Eusebi Güell bought a hillside and hired Gaudí to create a miniature city of houses for the wealthy. The project was abandoned, though not before Gaudi created a plaza and few other constructions in his inimitable manner. The park was inaugurated in 1926 as a public park.
To get in the central area you will need to get tickets, the rest of the park is free. The access to the central area is limited to a certain number of people every half-hour.
Just at the entrance is a former porter house, you know, the gatekeeper, the one that was supposed to screen the guests and visitors that would enter the property. The house hosts a display on Gaudí’s building methods and documents about the history of the park. It is a beautiful building, especially on the outside. It has fantastically shaped roofs with unusual pinnacles, to me it looked like a fairytale building, built out of gingerbread….with white frosting : -).
The porter house
The inside is interesting, this is a picture I took for a set a stairs that was leading to the upper level, notice the beautiful blue color of the walls….
After the porter house there is a set of steps that are guarded by a mosaic dragon/lizard (a copy of which you can buy in the souvenir shops, there are many around this area and also downtown).
These lead to a hall and then to the main terrace, which are the focal point of the park. The hall is called the Sala Hipóstila (aka the Doric Temple) and it is breathtaking. The structure is supported by a forest of 86 stone columns. The ceiling is decorated with beautiful mosaic. I liked it, but when I went it was under restoration and I am not sure if you should pay the money to visit it….
This is the ceiling part of the hall, with the mosaic decorations
The terrace has beautiful views of Barcelona. The views extend all the way to sea. Here you will find the Banc de Trencadís, a tiled bench curving sinuously around the perimeter of the terrace. The bench structure was designed by one of Gaudí’s closest colleagues, architect Josep Maria Jujol (1879–1949).
The bench is decorated using broken shards of tiles and pottery to make a colorful mosaic. This decorating technique is called “trencadís”, meaning ‘chopped’ in Catalan. Park Guell is where Gaudí pioneered this technique.
There are other interesting places to see here, such as the colonnaded footpath under the roadway viaduct. I thought this place was enchanting, the columns look so unusual……they are unusual !
It looks like these columns are inspired by the shape of the trees and it does make sense, because Gaudi was inspired and liked to imitate the natural world. He did the same in his design of the Sagrada Familia.
There is also a house called la Torre Rosa that was built as a model home in 1904. This was not built by Gaudi, but by a friend of his, Francesc Berenguer. Gaudí lived here with his father and niece from 1906 until 1925. His father died in 1906 and his niece died in 1912 At the very end of his life Gaudí moved into his studio at the Sagrada Familia which he designed and was building on until his death in 1926. Today this house is the Gaudí house-museum where you can see Gaudi’s bedroom and pieces of furniture designed by Gaudí (including items that were once in La Pedrera, Casa Batlló and Casa Calvet- these are other buildings designed by Gaudi).
There is also the Larrard House, which is now a public school. I wondered how it looks inside, but you cannot enter, obviously, since it is school’s property.
The park is just really nice to walk through, it’s peaceful and it’s a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the city below.