Some of us took a weekend trip to Barcelona, which is the capital of Catalonia, an autonomous community in northeastern Spain. Barcelona and Catalonia as a whole, are quite distinct from the rest of Spain; it almost seems like a different country entirely. Catalans have their own language (Catalan), their own customs and traditions, and varying political opinions that are often in conflict with the federal government of Spain.
Another thing that sets Barcelona apart is its unique, modernistic architecture. This house, officially named Casa Batlló, was designed by Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudí, who was born in a city called Reus, but later moved to Barcelona, where he created many public works of art.
This monument to Christopher Columbus is located at the end of a popular street, called La Rambla. Columbus reported to Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand V in Barcelona, after returning to Spain from his first voyage to the Americas.
Three flags atop a municipal building: the flag on the left is the Catalan flag, the one in the middle is the Spanish flag, and the one on the right is the Barcelonian flag; it features the cross of Saint George, who is the patron saint of Barcelona.
It’s even more common to see the Estelada, or the Catalan independence flag, which contains a lone star imposed on the traditional Catalan flag. There is a strong independence movement in Catalonia, with a self-determination referendum scheduled to take place November 9, 2014. However, the federal government of Spain has already stated that it plans to block this referendum because it would challenge the sovereignty of Spain. It’s estimated that a majority of Catalans would vote in favor of becoming an independent nation, separate of Spain, but many Catalans would still wish to rejoin the European Union after that.
The Arc de Triomf (Triumph Arch) was built in 1888 for the World’s Fair in Barcelona.
In an open market on the other side of the arch, someone displayed this sign, which criticizes Spanish president Mariano Rajoy in a mocking manner. The phrase literally translates to: “Spain is a state of right,” which could be a play on words, because Rajoy is a right wing politician, but Catalans feel that he’s not respecting their right to self-determination.
We also visited the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, a market with various foods and other goods on offer; it’s quite reminiscent of Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.
Park Güell is truly a must-see in Barcelona. All of the elaborate and bizarre structures in the park, including these two buildings at the entrance, were designed by Gaudí. Park Güell is considered the magnum opus of Gaudí and it’s also the site of the Gaudí House Museum.
(Left to right) Abby, Sophie, Jess, Ridge, Lauren, Mary, Chuck and Emily sit on a bench, decorated with tiled mosaics, at Park Güell.
Perhaps the most famous building in Barcelona is the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Holy Family). Commonly referred to as Sagrada Família for short, it’s a huge cathedral built in a neogothic style that fuses both old and new architectural elements. The Sagrada Família was designed by Gaudí, but it’s not expected to be completed until 2026.