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The Rough Guide to Barcelona

The Rough Guide to Barcelona
by Jules Brown
  Barcelona has boomed since the early 1990s, when preparations for the Olympic Games wrenched it into modernity, and today it remains well in the vanguard of other Spanish cities (with the possible exception of Madrid) in terms of prosperity, stability and cultural activity. It's a confident, progressive city, looking towards the rest of Europe for its inspiration and its innovations - the classic tourist images of Spain seem firmly out of place in Barcelona's bustling central boulevards and stylish modern streets.
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Barcelona - Sagrada Familia

Antoni Gaudi's Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia is the most famous and unforgettable structure in Barcelona. According to the Rough Guide to Barcelona:

In many ways this has become a kind of symbol for the city ... It's an essential stop on any visit to Barcelona ... it speaks volumes about the Catalan urge to glorify uniqueness and endeavour. It is the most fantastic of the modern architectural creations in which Barcelona excels ... Even the coldest hearts will find the Sagrada Familia inspirational in form and spirit.

The church is a staggering 'work in progress'. Originally begun in 1882 as a conventional neo-Gothic creation, Gaudi took over the design at the age of 31 and spent the rest of his life working on what became an amazing moderniste building. Gaudi died in 1926 and his designs and models were to be destroyed by the anarchists in 1936. Only one facade had been completed by the time of Gaudi's death and, although spared during the civil war, it was not universally admired. The writer George Orwell wrote that it was "one of the most hideous buildings in the world", adding that the anarchists showed bad taste "in not blowing it up when they had the chance."

Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

The construction was resumed in the 1950's amongst considerable controversy about its subsequent design. The building is even more remarkable on the inside than out because, virtually unique in the modern world, it gives visitors an impression of what it must have been like to see a cathedral-sized church being built in the middle ages.

Sagrada Cavings

Sagrada Carvings, Barcelona

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