Tuesday, December 27, 2011

BARCELONA: PEDRALBES GARDENS AND PALACE

Revealing both English and French influences, romantic bridges and verdant green areas, a walk along the gardens of the Pedralbes Royal Palace,  one of the most beautiful parks and gardens in Barcelona will transport you to a time when serenity and majesty were determining elements of the landscape.

When you pass through the magnificent forged-iron entry door, a large space will welcome you. There is an elegant oval pond in the middle with the sculpture of a woman in its centre. In front, flower beds and, behind, a slight slope covered with grass and well-tended bay trees and orange trees, replete with a small waterfall.

Pedralbes gardens in Barcelona
The pond at the Pedralbes gardens entry is presided over by a marble female nude


There are crushed rock footpaths on both sides of the pond, which are interwoven throughout the entire park so that you can get lost and meander along them. It doesn't matter if you select the left-hand path or the right-hand one, they will lead you to a central passage where the lime trees play a leading role. This is a shady space, like the areas flanked by benches on both sides of the path, with dense and exuberant vegetation.


Pedralbes palace in Barcelona
If you continue up the path, the shady lanes will take you to the Royal Palace, located at the back of the park. The path opens up onto a semicircular square in front of the palace, surrounded on both sides by a large balustrade decorated with busts sculpted from white marble. Since the railing is located under the shade of the trees, this is a perfect place to sit for a moment and gaze upon the building

Pedralbes palace in Barcelona
The semicircular square is sunny and presided over by a white marble sculpture of Isabel II holding her son Alfons XII in her arms and a pond in the middle surrounded by flowerpots filled with geraniums

Pedralbes palace in Barcelona
The palace is the fruit of the modification of the Güell tower to become the residence of the royal family. The ancient tower comprises the central body of the building and new rooms were built to both sides of it

Pedralbes gardens in Barcelona
The balustrade in front of the building is decorated with white marble busts

Pedralbes gardens in Barcelona
There are many unique elements throughout the park, which you will discover as you walk along the crushed stone footpaths that cross the park in all directions, always surrounded by splendid vegetation, sometimes wooded, always shady and fresh, with birdsong filling the air


Parabolic pérgola in Pedralbes gardens
Your meandering will take you to two works by Antoni Gaudí: a parabolic pérgola covered with climbing plants -indeed, a shade-filled paradise- and, in a small corner, the fountain of Hercules, with the water bubbling up from a forged-iron dragon's head

Fountain of Hercules in Pedralbes park
In the small bamboo forest, there is a fountain of Hercules created from wrought iron and stone. The work is by Antoni Gaudí (1884). The dragon head is a spout from which the water bubbles and under is a stone spout with four bars on its front. There is a bench carved from stone on both sides and a marble bust on the pedestal from which the dragon head emerges

Pedralbes park
Another nice image of the Pedralbes gardens in Barcelona

Flags near Pedralbes Gardens
Flags near in Avinguda Diagonal near the main entrace of El Palau de Pedralbes


Of course, you can visit more fantastic parks in Barcelona like:


Finally, clicking on the next link you will find links to other beautiful places in Barcelona, among them, more nice places in Pedralbes like the Pedralbes Monastery or La Finca Güell and more beautiful parks and gardens in Barcelona.



Saturday, December 24, 2011

BARCELONA MODERNISM: MERCAT DE LA BOQUERIA


La Rambla’s history is the Boqueria Market’s history. The evolution from a past of peddlers to a modern and charming present, full of colour and life. The market is a metaphor for Barcelona’s life, a human river that is the delight for those who like watching.



Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona
El Mercat de la Boqueria is a space full of life, history and unquestionable architectural value and one of the largest markets in Barcelona


The first of Barcelona’s local markets was opened on Saint Joseph’s day, on the 19th of March 1840, after four years of work on the land that was up until then occupied by Saint Joseph’s convent. However, the history goes back a good few years before, because on the site on Rambla where the market is today, there were already peddlers selling meat in the thirteenth century.

Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona
A modernist detail close to the main entrance of El Mercat de la Boqueria


Marquis Campo Sagrado, Catalonia’s general captain, started to establish the rules for this travelling market in an area that became a large square after the convent was gone. With time the Boqueria Market of Barcelona transformed itself in a modern market. It incorporated the gas illumination and the metal cover was finished in 1914. This metal cover as well as protecting food, sellers and buyers, gives character to the market.


Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona
Nowadays, sellers proudly show the oldest and most complete food market of Barcelona

Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona
Sellers in El Mercat de la Boqueria offer us vegetables, meat, fish and thousands of other products in stalls with great charm and imaginative presentation

Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona
All kind of vegetables and fruit gives a really colourful look to El Mercat de la Boqueria


I also would like to give you some useful information about El Mercat de la Boqueria:

  • Address: La Rambla, 89 bis - Plaça de la Boqueria.
  • Phone: 933 182 584 / 933 182 017.
  • How to get there: Metro L3, stop Liceu. Bus 14, 59 and 91.
  • Web site: www.boqueria.info.
  • Opening time: Monday to Saturday, from 8am to 8.30pm.
Finally, clicking on the next link you will find links to other beautiful places in Barcelona, among them, more Modernist nice buildings along the Modernism Route.


Friday, December 23, 2011

BARCELONA - MODERNISM OF GAUDI: CASA BATLLO

Recently I visited La Casa Batlló and I liked a lot what I saw. Moving through the house, I was constantly surprised by the details I discovered with every step: curved line, parabolic arches, colourful stained-glass windows, raised ceramic tiles, decorative pieces of masonry or the shapes of the door handles and banisters ergonomically designed.

Antoni Gaudí gave Casa Batlló a facade that is original, fantastical and full of imagination. He replaced the original facade with a new composition of stone and glass. He ordered the external walls to be redesigned to give them a wavy shape.

La Casa Batlló is one of the most beautiful buildings in Barcelona, a jewel of modernism designed by the brilliant architect Antoni Gaudí. It is the definitive work of art, with the artist encouraging everything to work together: design, space, colour, shape and light.

La Casa Batlló consists of a ground floor, a main floor with a courtyard, four further self-contained floors, a loft and a roof terrace. Next you can see some pictures of these parts I took during this visit.



Main Facade

Balconies of Casa Batlló in Barcelona
I wonder if the Balconies of Casa Batlló are masks or maybe bats

Noble Floor of Casa Batlló
On the Noble Floor of Casa Batlló, Antoni Gaudí included a huge gallery - to see and be seen - which projects several metres out over Passeig de Gràcia. He also inserted stone columns in the shape of bones


Noble Floor

Mushroom-shaped fireplace in Casa Batlló
Romantic mushroom-shaped fireplace, which is flanked by a bench on either side, one for the chaperone and the other for the couple being chaperoned

Noble floor of Casa Batlló
I really liked the warm colors of the floor and doors and windows in the noble floor of Casa Batlló

Noble floor of Casa Batlló
The ceiling is wavy, in allusion to the sea. It features an ingenious whirlpool effect which evokes the power of the sea

Inner courtyard of Casa Batlló
The inner courtyard of Casa Batlló is decorated with more than 15,000 glazed tiles

Blue tiles in Casa Batlló
There are five different tones of blue tiles used in the well of Casa Batlló, inspired by the different shades of the sea

Landing in Casa Batlló
Spacious landing with direct views towards the blue tiling of the building well. The windows in Casa Batlló, like the one of this picture, play a double role: the upper part being for illumination and the lower part for ventilation

Loft

Parabolic arches in Casa Batlló
There are more than 60 parabolic arches in the loft area of Casa Batlló

Roof Terrace

Roof terrace of Casa Batlló
The building is crowned with a spectacular roof which, being composed of large scales, looks like a dragon's back

Roof terrace of Casa Batlló
The roof terrace of La Casa Batlló is dominated by what is affectionately known as the dragon’s back. Gaudí represents an animal’s spine using tiles of different colours on one side, and coloured using the trencadís mosaic technique on the side facing inwards towards the roof terrace

Chimneys of Casa Batlló
The roof of La Casa Batlló is decorated with four chimney stacks like the one of this picture – sinuous, stylised and polychromatic, in an endless flirtation with the heavens. Behind the aesthetic aspect, functionality is ever-present: the wind cannot obstruct smoke from escaping thanks to the chimney caps on the tops of the chimneys, which are tiled with the same trencadís glazed mosaics as the facade

Tower and cross which crowns Casa Batlló
As you can see, La Casa Batlló also has a tower, and rising from this is a cross with four arms pointing north, south, east and west

Cross which crowns Casa Batlló
A closer view of the cross which crowns Casa Batlló. This cross shows the religiosity of Antoni Gaudí

Casa Batlló lit at night
A last picture of the facade of Casa Batlló, which is tiled with a mosaic composed of pieces of glass and ceramic discs, giving an undulating surface


Of course you can visit more wonderful modernist masterpieces in Barcelona designed by Antoni Gaudí like:


Besides, other modernist buildings you can visit in Barcelona are:



Finally, clicking on the next link you will find links to other beautiful places in Barcelona, among them, more fantastic modernist buildings along the Modernism Route.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

CATALONIA: DELTA DEL EBRE LANDSCAPES

Delta del Ebre in Costa Daurada is a really beautiful environment in Catalonia and I really enjoyed the days I spent there. So I would like to show you more pictures of these fantastic landscapes (you can see other ones clicking on the previous link).

Some of the landscapes of Delta del Ebre I liked the most were:
  • Badia dels Alfacs
  • Barra del Trabucador
  • Llacuna de la Tancada
  • Arrossars
  • Llacuna de l'Encanyissada
and next some of the pictures I took of these sceneries:


Delta del Ebre in Catalonia
Water of Badia dels Alfacs in Delta del Ebre is really quiet

Badia dels Alfacs in Delta del Ebre
Sant Carles de la Ràpita appears behind Badia dels Alfacs,viewed from La Barra del Trabucador, one of the most beautiful places in Delta del Ebre

Barra del Trabucador in Delta de l'Ebre
Road along La Barra del Trabucador in Delta de l'Ebre

Llacuna de la Tancada in Delta de l'Ebre
Flamingos in Llacuna de la Tancada, one of the largest ones in Delta de l'Ebre

Llacuna de la Tancada in Delta de l'Ebre
Taking pictures of Flamingos from a viewpoint beside Llacuna de la Tancada in Delta de l'Ebre

Llacuna de la Tancada in Delta de l'Ebre
Another picture of the flamingos in La Llacuna de la Tancada

This picture of a flamingo is actually a picture of a picture

Llacuna de la Tancada in Delta de l'Ebre
From this viewpoint beside La Llacuna de la Tancada I took the previous pictures of this lagoon

Llacuna de l'Encanyissada in Delta de l'Ebre
More flamingos in La Llacuna de l'Encanyissada, the largest lagoon in Delta de l'Ebre

Rice fields in Delta de l'Ebre
Typical landscape of El Delta de l'Ebre: arrossars (rice fields)

Viewpoint in Delta de l'Ebre
Viewpoint beside La Llacuna de l'Encanyissada and La Casa de Fusta in Delta de l'Ebre

Llacuna de l'Encanyissada in Delta de l'Ebre
We rent binoculars to watch better the flamingos in La Llacuna de l'Encanyissada

Rice field in Delta de l'Ebre
Another rice field in Delta de l'Ebre beside La Llacuna de l'Encanyissada




Of course, El Delta del Ebre is not the only interesting place to visit along La Costa Daurada. This 216 km of Mediterranean coastline offers very interesting tourist attractions such as:

Finally, clicking on the next link you will find links to other beautiful places in Catalonia, among them, more interesting medieval villages.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

CATALONIA: SALOU, LA BOELLA AND DELTA DEL EBRE

Last week I spent three fantastic days in La Costa Daurada. The first one in Salou and the other ones visiting the fabulous landscapes in Delta de l'Ebre, located at the southern end of La Costa Daurada, like this one:


Ricefields near L'Encanyissada lagoon in Delta de l'Ebre
Ricefields near L'Encanyissada lagoon in Delta de l'Ebre

Although one of the main attractions of this beautiful area of Catalunya are its long beaches of golden sand, in winter there are also a lot of activities to do.

For example, our first day began with a guided tour and an olive oil tasting in La Boella (www.laboella.com), a 110-hectare estate of olive trees and gardens located midway between Reus and Tarragona. At the heart of La Boella you will find a 12th century country house lovingly restored. That day ended with a pleasant walk along the beach of Salou.

Delta de l'Ebre was our environment for the following two days. We were cycling in La Bassa de les Olles and La Punta del Fangar. Besides, we walked along El Trabucador and stared at the flamingos at La Tancada and L'Encanyissada lagoons.

Below you can see the places I visited during these three days:


Day 1: Salou
  • Hotel Magnolia
  • La Boella
  • Salou Beach

Day 2: Cycling through Delta de l'Ebre
  • Port del Fangar Area
  • Punta del Fangar
  • Bassa de les Olles

Day 3: Delta de l'Ebre
  • Barra del Trabucador
  • Bassa de la Tancada
  • Arrossars
  • Casa de Fusta
  • Barraca del Delta
  • Bassa de l'Encanyissada

Other interesting areas of El Delta del Ebre to visit if you have enough time are L'Illa de Buda (Buda Island) or La Punta de la Banya.

Next, I would like to show you some pictures I took in Salou, La Boella and El Delta de L'Ebre.

Day 1

Hotel Magnolia


Hotel Magnolia in Salou
Hotel Magnolia is a comfortable hotel located close to the beach of Salou. Our room was quite large

La Boella


La Boella near Salou
The day was lovely as you can see in this picture taken in La Boella shortly before the tour we made to this state

La Boella near Salou
Roses and olive trees, a fantastic landscape I could enjoy before the guided tour in La Boella

La Boella near Salou
The large convention center in La Boella. The other two buildings are the restaurant Espai Fortuny and the Mas la Boella Hotel

La Boella near Salou
The restored medieval tower you can see in this picture is the symbol of La Boella


La Boella near Salou
After the interesting olive oil tasting, we walked among the olive trees in La Boella


Salou Beach


Sunset in Salou beach
Sunset in Salou beach

Day 2

Port del Fangar Area


Port del Fangar in Delta de l'Ebre
Boats close to the beach in the area of Delta de l'Ebre called Port del Fangar

Port del Fangar in Delta de l'Ebre
Near La Bassa de les Olles we rent a bicycle to discover La Punta del Fangar, one of the most interesting areas of Delta de l'Ebre

Punta del Fangar


La Punta del Fangar in Delta de l'Ebre
After half and hour by bike we hadn't enough time to arrive near the Lighthouse of La Punta del Fangar, located 6km from this point. Maybe we should have driven to this place and, then, walked up to the lighthouse and the mobile dunes, which give a desert appearance to this area of Delta de l'Ebre

Bassa de les Olles


Bassa de les Olles in Delta de l'Ebre
Birds overflying La Bassa de les Olles, the smallest lagoon of Delta de l'Ebre


Day 3

Barra del Trabucador




La Barra del Trabucador of Delta de l'Ebre
Walking along La Barra del Trabucador of Delta de l'Ebre under a lovely morning next to the water of La Badia dels Alfacs

La Barra del Trabucador of Delta de l'Ebre
Golden sand of Barra del Trabucador and the Mediterranean sea in the background. One of the most beautiful landscapes of Delta de l'Ebre


La Barra del Trabucador of Delta de l'Ebre
Sant Carles de la Ràpita from El Trabucador, a beautiful area of El Delta de l'Ebre

El Trabucador in El Delta de l'Ebre
Vegetation of El Trabucador in El Delta de l'Ebre


Arrossars



Ricefields in El Delta del Ebre
Beautiful scenery of ricefields in El Delta del Ebre



Bassa de la Tancada



Flamingos in La Llacuna de la Tancada in Delta de l'Ebre
Flamingos, which appear in this picture, can often be seen in La Llacuna de la Tancada (La Tancada lagoon). You can enjoy this lagoon by using the bicycle lane that surrounds La Tancada


Casa de Fusta


La Casa de Fusta in Delta de l'Ebre
La Casa de Fusta (Wooden House), a Park Information Centre located next to L'Encanyissada, the Delta's largest lagoon. In front of this building is the start of L'Encanyissada cycle path.

Barraca del Delta



Barraca del Delta de l'Ebre
Una barraca del Delta de l'Ebre, a typical house built with traditional methods


Bassa de l'Encanyissada 


Llacuna de l'Encanyissada in Delta de l'Ebre
Nice view of La Llacuna de l'Encanyissada in Delta de l'Ebre

Viewpoint next to L'Encanyissada lagoon
Viewpoint next to L'Encanyissada lagoon

L'Encanyissada in Delta de l'Ebre
Staring at the birds and flamingos of L'Encanyissada, an enormous submerged meadow of El Delta de l'Ebre

Sunset in L'Encanyissada of El Delta del Ebre
Spectacular sunset in L'Encanyissada, one of the most impressive environments of El Delta del Ebre


Of course, El Delta del Ebre is not the only interesting place to visit along La Costa Daurada. This 216 km of Mediterranean coastline offers very interesting tourist attractions such as:

For further information, you can visit the following websites:
  • www.parcsdecatalunya.net
  • www.larapita.com
  • www.enlarapita.com
  • www.ampolla.com

I also would like to recommend you the two hotels where we stayed:
  • Hotel Magnolia in Salou (www.magnoliahotelsalou.com)
  • Hotel del Port in Sant Carles de la Ràpita (www.hoteldelport.es)
and one of the restaurants of El Delta del Ebre where we enjoy a delicious paella:

  • Restaurant Casa de Fusta L'Estany, located next to l'Encanyissada and La Casa de Fusta (www.restaurantestany.com)

Finally, clicking on the next link you will find links to other beautiful places in Catalonia.