Friday, January 27, 2012

BARCELONA: SANT MIQUEL DEL FAI

The medieval abbey of Sant Miquel del Fai, 50 km from Barcelona, contains the only romanesque chapel in Catalonia to have been built inside a grotto. The gravity-defying ensemble, which nestles among the rocks, is imbued with mystical beauty.


Medieval abbey of Sant Miquel del Fai near Barcelona
Medieval abbey of Sant Miquel del Fai

The abbey of Sant Miquel del Fai stands in a leafy valley, the vall del Tenes, among rocky outcrops and waterfalls which are more than 100 m high. 

Waterfall in Sant Miquel del Fai
Impressive waterfall in Sant Miquel del Fai


The visit begins in the unusual square in front of the Abbey which is cut into the mountainside. The square affords views of the small lakes formed by rainwater and melting ice. The gothic-style Priory House (15th century) stands on the other side of the square, and is now used as an exhibition gallery and restaurant.

As you go along the rocky gallery which used to be part of the cloister, you come to the romanesque chapel of Sant Miquel (10th century). Built inside a grotto, next to a waterfall.

The path continues to a small lake hidden among the rocks, passes below a spectacular waterfall, and ends at the chapel of Sant Martí (10th century) which stands in the middle of an esplanade. At the end of the tour, you’ll be given a helmet to visit the mysterious cave of "Les Tosques".


This is the route to discover the beautiful places of Sant Miquel del Fai:

  • Romanesque bridge
  • Abbey Square
  • Abbey
  • Romanesque church
  • Cave of Sant Miquel
  • Waterfall
  • Sant Martí Chapel
  • Cave of  "Les Tosques"
  • Picnic area
  • Playgroung
  • Sant Miquel del Fai overview

And next I would like to show you some of the pictures I took in this fantastic environment.

Romanesque bridge

Romanesque bridge in Sant Miquel del Fai
This romanesque bridge is the entrance to Sant Miquel del Fai

Route in Sant Miquel del Fai
Here you have the route you can do in Sant Miquel del Fai with the interesting places you can visit

Abbey Square

Priory House in Sant Miquel del Fai
The gothic-style Priory House (15th century) in Abbey Square


Sant Miquel del Fai
The staircase on the right leads to a terrace where you can enjoy wonderful views of the entire valley of Tenes

Abbey

Priory house in Sant Miquel del Fai
Another view of the Priory house in Sant Miquel del Fai

Priory house and pond in Sant Miquel del Fai
Pond beside the Priory house. From the terrace you can see in this picture you can enjoy fantastic views of the valley of Tenes

Romanesque church


Romanesque church of Sant Miquel
Entrance to the Romanesque church of Sant Miquel, the only one in Catalonia built inside a grotto 

Sant Miquel del Fai
Bell tower of the Romanesque church of Sant Miquel

Romanesque church of Sant Miquel
Inside the romanesque church of Sant Miquel. As you can see, the cave is the roof

Sant Miquel Cave

Cave of Sant Miquel
A flight of steps leads to the cave of Sant Miquel, where the calcareous rocks have formed stalagmites and stalactites

Sant Miquel del Fai
Along this path you can walk from one place of interest to the next one

Waterfall

Waterfall in Sant Miquel del Fai
Spectacular waterfall in Sant Miquel del Fai
  
Sant Martí Chapel

Chapel of Sant Martí
The chapel of Sant Martí (10th century) stands in the middle of an esplanade next to the Cave of "Les Tosques"

Cave of "Les Tosques"

Cave of Les Tosques in Sant Miquel del Fai
You’ll be given a helmet to visit the mysterious cave of "Les Tosques"

Cave of Les Tosques in Sant Miquel del Fai
Inside the cave of "Les Tosques". You must walk carefully inside this cave to avoid accidents

Picnic area

Picnic area in Sant Miquel del Fai
At the end of the path there is a picnic area and a bar, which opens on sunday, where you can have lunch

Playgroung

Playground in Sant Miquel del Fai
And beside the picnic area children can enjoy this playground

Sant Miquel del Fai overview

Sant Miquel del Fai
Finally, a last view of Sant Miquel del Fai, a really beautiful environment


If you liked the medieval abbey of Sant Miquel del Fai, maybe you will also interested in visiting other beautiful monasteries and abbeys in Catalunya, like:



Near the city of Barcelona you can also visit:


Besides, I would like to give you some useful information in case you want to go to Sant Miquel del Fai. I recommend visiting it on sunday because there is a guided visit at 12pm.
  • Address: Espai Natural de Sant Miquel del Fai
  • Phone: 938 658 008 / 938 658 025
  • How to arrive:  Sagalès coaches from Estació del Nord in Barcelona.
  • Web: www.santmiqueldelfai.net


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




Friday, January 20, 2012

BARCELONA: VILA DE GRACIA


Last weekend I enjoyed a route along La Vila de Gràcia, a district in Barcelona which was an independent village until the early twentieth century. Because of that this area of Barcelona has its own personality with a lot of lovely squares connected by narrow and peaceful streets. 


Plaça del Diamant in Vila de Gràcia
Plaça del Diamant, probably the most popular square in Gràcia

The atmosphere in Gràcia is really quiet during the day but it becomes incredibly lively at night, especially at weekends. La Festa Major de Gràcia, which is held for one week from the 15th of August, is actually one of the most popular ones in Barcelona.

Although the origins of this celebration in the nineteenth century is fairly recent, it has grown in importance and now is well known because of the colorful decoration of the streets. The Festa Major de Gràcia receives an annual influx of hundreds of thousands of people from all over Catalonia looking for fun with the lively atmosphere day and night.

Besides, Gràcia has always had an active social and political life and a rich fabric of civic, cultural, artistic and sporting institutions.

The most interesting places you will see along this route are the following ones:

  • Casa Vicens (designed by Antoni Gaudí)
  • Plaça del Diamant
  • Carrer Verdi
  • Plaça de la Virreina
  • Plaça de la Revolució de Setembre de 1858
  • Plaça del Sol
  • Plaça de la Vila
  • Casa Fuster (a fantastic modernist building)


Casa Vicens


Casa Vicens in Gràcia district
Nice look of the fence of Casa Vicens, designed by the brilliant Antoni Gaudí, located in Carolines street, in Gràcia district

Casa Vicens in Gràcia district
A detail of the iron gate of Casa Vicens, which imitates the shape of Bargalló leaves, a common plant in Gràcia

Casa Vicens in Gràcia district
Casa Vicens is structured in four levels or floors: a basement to be used as a cellar, two floors for housing and a loft for the service. The extensive use of ceramics in the facade gives the building a colorful look, one of the essential features of this modernist building


 Casa Vicens in Gràcia district
Balconies and window railings of Casa Vicens were carefully designed by Antoni Gaudí
  

Plaça del Diamant



Plaça del Diamant in Vila de Gràcia
In Plaça del Diamant there are always children playing soccer. Under this square a bunker of the Spanish Civil war can be visited



Carrer Verdi


Carrer Verdi in Gràcia district
Carrer Verdi is a typical and emblematic pedestrian street in Gràcia. Here, as you can see in this picture on the left, you can find the Verdi cinema, where you can watch films in original version


Plaça de la Virreina


Plaça de la Virreina in the center of Gràcia district
Plaça de la Virreina, being in the center of Gràcia district, is usually quite busy and some sunday mornings markets are organized where you can find for sale almost any imaginable second hand item, usually handicraftsman

Plaça de la Virreina in the center of Gràcia district
Main entrance to Sant Joan church behind Font de Ruth sculpture in Plaça de la Virreina

Plaça de la Virreina in the center of Gràcia district in Barcelona
Sant Joan church in Plaça de la Virreina

Modernist building beside Plaça de la Virreina in La Vila de Gràcia
Balconies of wrought iron of a modernist building located next to Plaça de la Virreina

Plaça de la Revolució de Setembre de 1858


Plaça de la Revolució de Setembre de 1858 in Gràcia district
Under Plaça de la Revolució de Setembre de 1858 in Gràcia I could visit another bunker of the Spanish Civil War

Plaça del Sol


Plaça del Sol is another lovely square in Gràcia
Plaça del Sol is another lovely square in Gràcia

 Plaça del Sol in Vila de Gràcia in Barcelona
Squares in Gràcia, like Plaça del Sol, are fantastic places for a drink 

Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia


City hall of Gràcia district
Main facade of the city hall of Gràcia district, located in Plaça de la Vila

Clock tower in Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia
Clock tower in Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia

Casa Fuster


 Casa Fuster in Vila de Gràcia
Casa Fuster is a modernist building designed by Lluís Domenech i Montaner between 1908 and 1910. It is located on Passeig de Gràcia, next to Avinguda Diagonal. It was converted into a luxury hotel in 2004

Casa Fuster in Vila de Gràcia
A detail of the white facade of Casa Fuster, made of marble


If you liked this route, I suggest you more routes you can do in Barcelona:

Finally, clicking on the next link you will find links to other beautiful places in Barcelona, among them, more nice districts like, for example, the Gothic Quarter.


Friday, January 13, 2012

BARCELONA MODERNISM: ANTONI GAUDI

Today I would like to talk about the brilliant catalan architect Antoni Gaudi and suggest you a route to visit his most important modernist masterpieces. Some time ago I published a Modernist Route in Barcelona where you can admire more modernist buildings designed by other fantastic architects like Puig i Cadafalch or Domènech i Montaner.

Hologram of Antoni Gaudí
Hologram of Antoni Gaudí in La Casa Batlló, one of the most beautiful modernist buildings he designed

Gaudi was an architect with an innate sense of geometry and volume, as well as a great imaginative power which allowed him to mentally project the majority of his works before passing them to planes. Actually, he rarely performed detailed drawings of his works, preferring to recreate them on three-dimensional models.

Endowed with a strong intuition and creativity, Gaudí conceived his buildings in a global way, searching for structural, functional and decorative solutions.  He studied his creations to the smallest detail, integrating to the architecture a wide range of handicrafts which he mastered to perfection: ceramics, glass, iron forging, carpentry etc. He also introduced new techniques in the treatment of materials, such as his famous "trencadís" made with scrap pieces of pottery.

Below you can see the modernist masterpieces Antoni Gaudí designed:

  • Sagrada Familia
  • Park Güell
  • Casa Vicens
  • Casa Milà (also known as La Pedrera)
  • Casa Batlló
  • Palau Güell
  • Casa Bellesguard and Viaduct
  • Col·legi de les Teresianes
  • Casa Calvet
  • Güell Pavilions in Pedralbes
  • Cripta de la Colonia Güell
  • El Capricho (built in Comillas, a lovely village in Cantabria)
  • Bodegues Güell



La Sagrada Familia


Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona
The Nativity façade of La Sagrada Familia is the one of the transept facing east and consisting of four towers with three doorways. It's dedicated to the birth of Jesus and was the first to be built

Detail of Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona
Detail of the Nativity façade of the Sagrada Familia

Ceiling of the main nave of Sagrada Familia Basilica
  Ceiling of the main nave of the Sagrada Familia, the most impressive masterpiece designed by Gaudí and the most beautiful modernist building in Barcelona

Curved line inside the Sagrada Familia Basilica
Curved line inside the Sagrada Familia

Park Güell


Park Güell in Barcelona
Main entrance of the Park Güell in Barcelona

Gaudí dragon fountain in Park Güell
The Gaudi dragon fountain is at the entrance to the Park Güell. This dragon is adorned in beautiful coloured tiling and is one of the most famous images of this park

Terrace of the Park Güell in Barcelona

 Doric columns support the roof of the lower court which forms the central terrace of the Park Güell, with serpentine seating round its edge



Casa Vicens


Casa Vicens designed by Gaudí in Barcelona
Main façade of La Casa Vicens, a modernist building located in El Barri de Gràcia

Casa Vicens is a modernist house designed by Gaudí
Wrought iron railings of La Casa Vicens, one of the first buildings designed by Antoni Gaudí


Casa Vicens in Gràcia district
Colorful look of the façade of La Casa Vicens


Casa Milà



Chimneys of Casa Milà in Barcelona
Chimneys of La Pedrera are the element which impressed me the most of the roof of this fantastic modernist building designed by Gaudí

Chimneys-shaped warriors of Casa Milà
 A closer view of these spectacular chimneys-shaped warriors of La Pedrera



Casa Batlló


Casa Batlló lit at night
Main façade of La Casa Batlló, a beatiful modernist building designed by Gaudí

Inside Casa Batlló in Barcelona
I really liked the warm colors of the floor, doors and windows in the noble floor of La Casa Batlló

Tiles in roof terrace of Casa Batlló
 The roof terrace of La Casa Batlló is dominated by tiles of different colours on one side, and coloured using the trencadís mosaic technique on the side facing inwards towards the roof terrace

Palau Güell


Palau Güell designed by Gaudí
Main facade of El Palau Güell, located near La Rambla de Barcelona

Parabolic arches in Palau Güell
These parabolic arches are the main entrance of the Palau Güell and are a common feature of the Gaudí designs 

Central Hall of Palau Güell in Barcelona
Impressive dome over the central hall of El Palau Güell


Casa Bellesguard


 The height of Casa Bellesguard is enhanced by the conical turret, topped by a four-armed cross which is so characteristic of Antoni Gaudí’s work



Col·legi de les Teresianes



The religious symbology of Col·legi de les Teresianes in Barcelona is completed by the turrets at either end of the building, which are surmounted by a four-armed cross



Casa Calvet


Casa Calvet in Barcelona
Casa Calvet in Barcelona designed by Antoni Gaudí


Pabellons Güell in Pedralbes


Wrought iron dragon at the gate of Güell Pavilions
Wrought iron dragon at the gate of the Güell Pavilions in Pedralbes

Güell Pavilions in Barcelona

The dome of the longeing ring of the Güell Pavilions,  a complex of buildings in the neighborhood of Pedralbes and designed by the catalan modernist architect Antoni Gaudí


Colònia Güell Church


Church of Colònia Güell in Barcelona
Stained glass windows and bell tower of the church, the crypt actually, of La Colònia Güell

Crypt of Colònia Güell in Barcelona
Ceiling of the crypt of La Colònia Güell

El Capricho (located in Comillas, Cantabria)


El Capricho designed by Gaudí
El Capricho, a house built by the brilliant modernist architect Antoni Gaudi, is the most beautiful modernist building in Comillas

El Capricho designed by Gaudí
This combination of spanish and arabic colorful elements give a cheerful look to this building


Cathedral of Mallorca


Baldachin of the cathedral of Palma de Mallorca designed by Gaudí
Baldachin of the gothic cathedral of Palma de Mallorca designed by Antoni Gaudí


The brilliant architect Antoni Gaudí is buried in the crypt of the Sagrada Familia Basilica, his most ambitious masterpiece:


Tomb of Antoni Gaudí in the crypt of the Sagrada Familia Basilica
Tomb of Antoni Gaudí in the crypt of the Sagrada Familia Basilica



Clicking on the next links you will find more pictures of the most important buildings designed by Antoni Gaudí:


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



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