Driving along the Iberian Peninsula, I had a chance to stop over for a few days in sunny Barcelona. The city traces its history back to pre-Roman times but in the modern era it is a fun filled place that boasts of many parks, beaches (including the divine Mar Bella), and a rich cultural history.
The Gothic quarter in the old city of Barcelona has many medieval buildings, and buildings designed by the architect Gaudi are scattered throughout the city. These range from apartment buildings (with not a corner to be seen!) to the immense La Sagrada Familia Church, which is under construction since 1882.
. It is one of the more bizarre structures I have seen. An early critic described the façades of his buildings as “tortures of the imagination, fetuses in stone, bulbous obscenities.” George Orwell called the Sagrada Família “one of the most hideous buildings in the world.” Others were more complimentary – calling his work visionary, a masterpiece (the roof of La Familia)!
Gaudi had a fondness for geckos and his highly individualistic designs extensively used mosaic tiling.
The eating-places we wandered into included a “Mexican” establishment that had larger that life Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera staring balefully at us as we dug into out burritos! Sangria was to be had a plenty. But our tour book had talked about a particular establishment that took a while to track down.
The Els Quatre Gats (The 4 Cats) was a café that opened in 1897 and became a center for the gathering of the artists in the city. The clientele included among others Pablo Picasso, the sculptor Julio Gonzalez. Today the café is more modernly labeled 4 CATS and serves lunches, dinners and coffee and tea.
The décor is eclectic and includes original artwork and a large and interesting pendulum clock!
Not to forget the facilities – these are charmingly archaic, with an ancient faucet and lots of yellow paint and tile!
I have no idea what I ate, or how good or bad it was, but the place is worth a visit just for the slice of history and the ambience.
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