Wednesday April 12. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Spain is the second largest city in Spain with 1.7 million population;  Madrid the capital and largest.  It is a very busy port city and can handle 8 ships in port at once plus ferries that serve nearby islands.  Land-wise it is hemmed in with the sea on one side, mountains on another, and rivers on two sides so the city is densely populated with most buildings being 5-6 stories.  It is a pretty modern city largely due to being host to the 1992 Olympics and facilities built for that event are used today.  In 1929 there was a worldwide expo here and buildings from that are also prominent.  In 2016 there were 4.5 million visitors–a very popular vacation destination–and since this is Holy Week there are thousands and thousands of tourists here now.  Saw one high school group from Canada, another from Italy and there must be people from all over the world here judging by the languages we hear spoken by the many tour guides. As with most European countries there have been numerous rulers of the area.  Franco was a particularly cruel dictator and when he died in 1975 the country celebrated by becoming a democracy and it has been relatively stable and prosperous since then.  In the early 1900s there was an architect/artist here by the name of Antoni Gaudi.  He wasn’t especially well known nor popular during his lifetime (he died in 1926) but in the latter part of the 20th century he has become almost revered by many.  He had a very different style, was ergonomically and ecologically advanced for his time.  Barcelona is home to his church, La Sagrada Familia, which is still  unfinished but under construction–and a park which we visited.  Guell Park was planned to be a community of homes for the wealthy elite; only 3 lots were sold but Gaudi’s work in the surrounding area continued and today it is a popular tourist site and a UNESCO cultural site.  The city really  “hypes” Gaudi’s work and it obviously pays off by bringing visitors here.   His ideas and work are not my style—you make up your mind!

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