A Visit to Parc Güell

Entrance to Parc Güell
Giant Mosaic Lizard Adorns Banister

People, people, people. People are everywhere through the window as the bus navigates through the dense urban maze of Barcelona.People against a backdrop of buildings, people in their cars, people shopping in stores, eating and drinking in the cafes ...sunlight flashing down through the sprawling canopy of buildings, each intersection a single frame from the movie that is Barcelona.

Stepping off the bus all anxiety is left behind replaced by wonder and discovery.Wandering through the neighborhoods below Parc Guell we shop for our picnic lunches in the small storefronts selecting olives, oranges,bread, cheese and a bottle of wine for our appropriately Mediterranean lunch.

Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926), an artist, an architect,a devoted catholic whose work sought the glory of God through the imitation of naturally occurring patterns and architecture.Brilliant, visionary beyond his time his works were so monumental that they took decades to complete, and some like the Sagrada Familia are still in progress a century later.Parc Güell, was a failure in its own time,intended to be a planned community with art at its core, it was ultimately too far from the city core to attract the wealthy elite it was designed to accommodate.

Gaudi's Private Garden Area Displays Design Samples From Other Masterpieces

A gingerbread land where the baker has twisted and curved every straight edge, decorating and adorning each piece lavishly with colorful frosting and candies.Tile mosaics of a thousand different origins in a thousand different patterns with each and every piece broken out of a larger original piece and reassembled by hand.The entire setting feels carefully designed & crafted, and appears to have grown out of the hillside organically without the touch of man.

Parc Güell faltered financially, however being so original, it remained timeless as the city slowly grew to overtake and surround it.Today, nearly a century later, its original purpose is being fulfilled... Parc Güell has become a touchstone of international art and people come from all over the world and walks of life to be in the lingering presence of its fascinating creator.

As the sun fell behind us and late afternoon shadow overtook us, the city lights below winked on it the city below and a distant murmur of traffic and voices carries to us on the wind. From our vantage at the topmost viewpoint in the Parc, the Gaudi Memorial, we knew we must again plunge through the neighborhoods back into the city before the parc closed for the night. We wandered down steep cobblestone streets tangled into the hillside losing and then finding our way back to the main bus line at the bottom of the hill Parc Güell straddles.

Built In Benches Incorporate Incredible Mosaic Tilework.

We boarded the city bus back towards the center of town and were amazed at the press of humanity gathering on the streets increasing in density with each block we traveled. Tired from the strenuous day of walking we were relieved to simply be sitting comfortably and to be heading back to our hotel. As we travelled, we eavesdropped on the local conversations going on around us, it became clear something was amiss. The level and energy of the conversations became anxious and then the bus stopped, the doors opened and the driver announced that the normal route had been canceled due to the massive protests being held in the central square.

The Madrid or M-11 train bombings of the day before were being answered with national peace protests staged in every city. Millions of people had traveled into the city to show solidarity for the victims and universal contempt for the perpetrators. The streets and sidewalks for 14 blocks around the central square were completely filled with people from every walk of life, children sat on parent's shoulders, grandparents in doorways out of the throng and everyone else was shoulder to shoulder or on top of anything they could climb onto. Drivers and passengers were trapped in their cars unable to move or get out of them. People with hands and faces painted red to symbolize the victims marched slowly through the night. Sporadically the rhythmic staccato of unison hand clapping would erupt and spread through the crowd and then fade again to the silence that accompanied their national disbelief that a country as tolerant and antiwar as Spain could be a target of such barbaric attacks. The government position that these attacks were Basque terrorists organized to disrupt upcoming elections was not widely accepted and this march was a very real and visible manifestation of that position. The mere 15 blocks to our hotel, an easy 30 minute stroll took us almost four hours to complete. As we finally squeezed off the street and into our hotel doorway we felt relief and a sense of awe for the Spanish national unity.

Peaceful Street Protests following M-11

As we prepared for bed, the television in our room brought us details from other cities, Madrid, Barcelona, Pampalona, Valencia, Sevilla had all had protests as large as the one we experienced. Surprisingly though in contrast to the World Trade Center Bombings our Spanish hosts were not calling for blood to avenge blood, but rather for peace and understanding. They were calling to end the war, at least for an end to Spanish troop involvement in it. Ten days later when elections were held on schedule, a new government emerged who kept their promise to do just that, withdraw troops from the Iraq Conflict. Many Americans on our return were vexed at the perceived weakness of the Spanish government, but from our experiences, and with the evidence of torture, mysteriously absent WMDs, civil conflict and government graft and corruption capitalized on by the likes of Haliburton, it seems these resilient and admirable people had the strength and courage to admit their mistakes and work to reverse them through peaceful measures.

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