Friday, February 24, 2012

Barcelona - Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya and Parc Guell

My last proper day in Barcelona, I woke up a bit later than the last couple of days (8.30, felt like a lie-in) and headed out to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. I started out a bit over-zealously, lingering by every piece and listening to all the descriptions on the audioguide, even the bits where it told you to "press green for more information". The end result was that I was there for 3 1/2 hours, and by the end I was so exhausted I was just zipping through the modern bits barely stopping to glance at many of the works.

Never mind though, at least I spent the most time in some of the periods I like best. It started out with purportedly one of the best collections of frescoes taken from the inside of churches in Europe. It was interesting to see (on a video) how they managed to peel them off the walls of the churches and reconstruct them inside the museums. I'm not too sure whether most of the damage was done during this process or beforehand. I suppose beforehand, or they wouldn't have kept doing it presumably. I really love polychrome church decorations, so it was great seeing all of this, and nice that they made an effort to set the pieces up in a mock of how they would have looked in the churches (even though of course it's not quite the same).

From this section (Romanesque) it progressed through Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and modern. There weren't that many "big name" pieces, but there were definitely works I liked. At the end, there was a nice display of Modernista decorative arts as well. The audioguide is probably worth getting, since there is very little information available in English otherwise. In some sections, there doesn't seem to be very many audioguide entries available, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Most of the segments were quite short as well, which is good. Nothing worse than when it goes on for 5 minutes and you've long lost interest in whatever it is you're meant to be looking at.

View from the museum steps

Finally, a gorgeous man, as promised. Pity he's made of stone

Me on the museum steps (in my new 10 euro dress I got in the sales)

Piece of Coptic cloth from the 6th-7th century AD - amazing

Romanesque church fresco

Romanesque church fresco

Romanesque altar cover

Romanesque altar cover

Renaissance Virgin Mary

Detail from a medieval battle scene

John the Baptist's head being served up to Herod

I liked all these cows looking around going "hey, what's the haps?"

Weird burial scene with some sort of animal hopping in the grave

Detail of an El Greco painting of Christ


Would you believe this is by Joan Miro?

After the museum, I tossed up between exploring the Gothic Quarter and the Cathedral or heading out of the centre to Parc Guell, a UNESCO world heritage site on a hill above the city, designed by the ubiquitous Gaudi. I decided that I had spent enough time inside for the day, so the bright sunshine of the park won out over the narrow shadowy streets of the old town, and I hopped on the metro to the park. It is located up a VERY steep hill, luckily helped out by outdoor escalators for part of the ascent. The climb is worth it, since there are fabulous views from the top (definitely wouldn't have bothered with the Sagrada Familia tower if I'd already been here) and some great architectural flourishes.

The very steep street up to Parc Guell

Steps on the other side of the park

A lizard covered with the "trencadis" mosaic tiling

Tons of people out and about on the famous 'Serpentine Bench' in Parc Guell

The underside of the part with the serpentine bench

One of the weird little houses or whatever they are in Parc Guell

And another one

Gaudi's own house in Parc Guell - not as flashy as his creations

Me in front of the Barcelona skyline in Parc Guell

Video of the view from the park

I left the park and got back into the city around 5, when I decided to go into the old town anyway. While trying to find the cathedral, I saw a chic little bar with cheap sangria and decided that would take priority. It was a good call, as after an hour or so sipping sangria, I found the cathedral and it was still open, so I was able to call in for a quick visit. Most of it was roped off for Mass, but I still got an idea (not that spectacular, by the way).

The cathedral

Cathedral interior

A monument in the Gothic Quarter. I couldn't see any information as to what it was, but if I were a betting woman, I'd say it was to victims of the Inquisition who got burnt at the stake

The cool cafe where I had some sangria - the art on the walls reminded me of the art on blogger friend MademoisElla's blog

Dead (?) Mary in a church in the Gothic Quarter

A sign for an old umbrella shop on La Rambla

After some more wandering around the bustling streets of the old town, I stopped for dinner. My goals for Barcelona were to have sangria, patatas bravas and churros and I achieved them all today. I was actually disappointed with the patatas bravas. Me and Mum have been many times to Auckland's own Mezze Bar, which serves a delicious dish topped with a sort of tomato salsa/relish which it calls patatas bravas and which I love (everything at the Mezze Bar is great, hit it up if you're ever in Auckland). I don't know whether it's inauthentic or what, but either way, it was miles better than the patatas bravas I had tonight, which were covered with a creamy, lightly-spiced mayonnaise-looking dressing. I mean, they were alright, but not a patch on the Auckland version! The churros, on the other hand, were lovely. Churros are a sort of fairly crispy, extruded donut. These were served with a cup of thick custardy hot chocolate, which you dipped the buttery churros in to. Yum!

Inferior patatas bravas

Tomorrow it's up early for my flight back to Paris, where I'm hoping to have time to check out the St Denis Basilica before my evening train back to Tours. It has been a lovely trip, but it is always nice to get home (and say sorry to Bob for abandoning him again). (I do have a friend coming over to feed him, in case that sounds like I literally abandoned him.) There are a couple of things I would have liked to see if I had had more time - like the Miro museum and the inside of one or two of Gaudi's houses - but all in all I think the trip was a good balance between different experiences (medieval art and F1 cars, for example) and "doing stuff" and just chilling out.


  1. Yep, they def look inferior! Sounds like a great day, though!! M x

  2. Are you sure that's mayonnaise on the spuds and you didn't vomit on them?


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