Once a trip – hardly ever more than that – I decide to get up early enough to photograph famous vistas in the serenity of dawn. A single night in Barcelona at the conclusion of our recent Costa Brava vacation gave me an opportunity to improve my portfolio of Gaudí masterpieces (my past limited selection was presented here). So, off I went when the streets were mostly deserted and the sky barely started to brighten.
My first stop was Sagrada Família, probably Gaudí’s greatest creation but also one that is still unfinished 90 years after his death. You cannot get away from construction cranes if you capture the full exterior view of the great church. Nonetheless, here is an attempt from a playground on Plaça de la Sagrada Família.
The church does not lend itself to many expansive shots from the street level, so here are a couple of fragments. The first is the central group of the Nativity façade on the eastern side, which bears direct influence by Gaudí.
The next slightly disorienting shot illustrates the array of exuberant decorations that the building is covered with.
This is the view of the western façade, called Passion, designed and built well after Gaudí’s passing. The author of the sculptures, Josep Maria Subirachs i Sitjar, significantly departed from Gaudí’s style in his design.
And here is another wider perspective, taken from the far end of Plaça de Gaudí (which is actually a park).
Next, I went to Casa Milà, colloquially known as La Pedrera (Stone Quarry), the last civic building designed by Gaudí in 1906. There is only one viable perspective of the building from the street level – and it certainly helps the photographer when the streets are empty.
A couple of closer views of the wavy stone façade and the elaborate wrought-iron balconies designed by Josep Maria Jujol i Gibert, who collaborated with Gaudí on a number of projects. I am not sure holding that twisting metal while standing on the balcony is all that comfortable…
The roof, one of the signature features of the building, can obviously not be seen very well from here, but a statue or two do peek down on us.
A couple of blocks down Passeig de Gràcia is another exuberant Gaudí creation, Casa Batlló, which is a couple of years older than Casa Milà. Here are a couple of fragments of it.
And a full frontal view.
The building to the left in this view is Casa Amatller by Josep Puig i Cadafalch, a modernist contemporary of Gaudí. It is one of four buildings by four Modernista architects with distinct styles that collectively give this block its unofficial name – the Block of Discord.
My final stop before the sun fully came up was Park Güell, of which I previously had no photographs even though I had visited the place on at least three occasions. Even at around 7am there were already people on the grounds, sharing the same desire of having the park largely to themselves for a short period of time.
The mosaic salamander, popularly known as “the dragon”, greets visitors by the entrance.
86 Doric columns make up the Hypostyle Room and support the main terrace above. Notice how the outermost columns stand at an angle, creating a wavelike impression that is so emblematic of Gaudí’s designs.
And then, there is the terrace itself, the centerpiece of the park. I lingered here for good 45 minutes – an exceedingly unusual time for me to stand in virtually the same spot – taking various perspectives of the city views under changing sky.
The sinuous benches surrounding the terrace is mainly the work of already mentioned Josep Maria Jujol, rather than Gaudí himself.
Here is another view of el drac from above.
As the sun kept rising, the number of people on the terrace was slowly growing. Nonetheless, it was nowhere near the amount of bodies you’d find here in the middle of even the most hottest of summer days.
Here is a better look at the Hypostyle Room. The ceiling mosaics here are also the work of Josep Maria Jujol.
The genius of Gaudí was unparalleled, and this superficial look can hardly convey it. But it is undoubtedly one of the things that make Barcelona one of the most beautiful cities in the world.