The Many Faces of Barcelona

There’s a bracelet on my right arm, jangling with charms that resemble Antoni Gaudi’s broken tiles, formed to resemble some of the architect’s most famous works. I got it to remind me of Barcelona, a small city whose energy, I think, emanates from the Catalan Modernisme—art and architecture with a personality unique to Catalonia.

I admit my knowledge of Gaudi’s works is merely scratching the surface, but Gaudi defined my Barcelona. As a daughter of an architect who has unconsciously observed building styles and interiors, Gaudi’s works fascinated me—from the details of the interiors of Casa Batllo to the whimsicality of Parc Guell to the grandeur of the Sagrada Familia. There is nothing that comes near to the man’s vision, which combined design with function and design with religion. His genius does not border on madness, but on the divine.

The other aspect of Barcelona that fascinated me is its Gothic face, a fascination that I developed after reading the works of Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It was quite a delight to discover that my hotel in the Gothic Quarter was located at Carrer de Santa Anna, where the fictional bookshop Sempere & Sons was located (yes, I was disappointed that there are no bookshops along Carrer de Santa Anna!).

What did not disappoint me was exploring the Gothic Quarter (which did give me the creeps—in a good way) and strolling along La Rambla, with its street performers, stalls, cafés, and intricately designed buildings.

It had been raining during most of my stay in Barcelona, but I was gifted with clear blue skies on my last full day in the city. La Rambla on a clear day was bustling with activity, but Barcelona was most beautiful when you continue to La Rambla del Mar onto Port Vell, where the sky and sea meet in varying shades of blue.

On my way to the airport, the tourism campaign of Barcelona was on repeat in the airport bus. The copy reads, “Barcelona inspires”. I couldn’t agree more.

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