Oh My Gaudí!
In the summer of 2019, I had the privilege of studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain, for seven weeks. During my time abroad, I was able to immerse myself in the Barcelona culture and discover some of the places that make this magical city so unique. One person that I believe was a huge part of the architectural and artistic development of this city is Antoni Gaudí. Gaudí is a well-known architect behind some of the most famous tourist attractions in Barcelona. His breathtaking works include places such as the Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllo, Casa Mila, and Park Güell. I had the privilege to experience three of his architectural masterpieces throughout my time there. I started my Gaudí experience with Park Güell, then I visited Casa Batllo and I wrapped up with the most famous of all, the Sagrada Familia. Visiting these beautiful places were some of the highlights of my time abroad, and allowed me to get a better idea of the culture of the city.
The first of Gaudí’s masterpieces that I was able to visit was Park Güell. Since it is located on the edge of the city, it was a long 30-minute metro ride from the center of the city and a 15-minute walk up hill to reach the Park. Needless to say, by the time I got there, the anticipation was killing me. Especially since this was going to be my first glimpse into the world of Gaudí, I was filled with excitement. When I first caught a glimpse of the beautiful ceramic artwork along the benches of the park I was in awe. As I explored more of the park I was so impressed by Gaudí’s creativity and ability to imagine the unimaginable. After leaving the Park Güell, I was eager to see more of his work.
The visit to Park Güell had me wanting to visit every architectural piece created by him. So, after that I immediately bought tickets for Casa Batllo. In one of my college Spanish classes I had learned about this place, and I was in awe of the beauty and creativity Gaudí demonstrated in this house. Casa Batllo was the only Gaudí piece that I had learned about before visiting Barcelona, so I was really excited to finally see it in the flesh. Casa Batllo has an outer façade that immediately catches your eye as you walk by. The architecture of the house was inspired by the ocean, and that could be easily seen throughout the length of the house. The detail work in this house was astounding. Gaudí truly thought about every aspect when designing this house.
My Gaudí journey continued with what I would say was my favorite place that I visited in Barcelona, the Sagrada Familía. This basilica was the vision of Antoni Gaudí, and its extremely unique architecture draws millions of visitors every year. Of the dozens of cathedrals, I have seen throughout Europe, this one topped the cake. The outer façade was flooded with depictions of biblical events, each painting a picture of the stories of the bible. Gaudí was a devout catholic, and his devotion and love for Catholicism is clear in the detail. As you enter the basilica, the architecture is vastly different from the outside. Gaudí used the modern style he is best known for on the inside of this basilica, making it clear who was the brains behind the masterpiece. Although Gaudí was not able to see the finish of the Basilica, the integrity of the basilica is being well maintained with Gaudí’s vision. The Sagrada Familia is not set to be completed until 2026, which gives me a great reason to go back and visit!
Reflecting on my journey, I have realized that nothing truly compares to the unique experience that study abroad gives you. Getting to live in a city much different from my own forced me to go outside of my comfort zone. Overall, I am so thankful for this experience and all of the knowledge I gained from it. As I was sitting on my delta airlines flight getting ready to head back to America, I heard something that resonated with me so well, and also perfectly described my 7-week journey in Barcelona. While sitting there watching the in-flight welcome video, I listened as the pilot on the screen proclaimed, “Travel is the ultimate teacher.” When I heard that statement, I realized that I couldn’t agree more. The amount in which I have grown and learned during these short 7 weeks has broadened my horizons and will continue to help me throughout the rest of my life.