Enjoying the Amazing Street Art of Barcelona

I’ve had the privilege of exploring many of the world’s greatest museums and art galleries. But I confess. My time in Barcelona was not spent in any art galleries or museums (other than the Chocolate Museum) and yet I enjoyed a tremendous amount of amazing art. How, you ask?

Just walking or driving around the streets of Barcelona exposes you to an awesome array of street art. Incredible sculptures, as well as architecture that, in itself, is a work of art. At every turn we happened upon a colourful, entertaining, outrageous or thought-provoking sculpture. Here’s a look at just a few!

This whimsical street art made me smile everytime we passed it.

There’s even art at the beach! This sculpture called L’Estel Ferit in catalan (meaning “The Wounded Star,” ) is by Rebecca Horn and is an homage to Barcelneta Beach.

the streets of Barcelona are lined with contemporary art

And then there’s the architecture! Contemporary buildings are colourful and interesting for the most part. Historic buildings are adorned with beautiful traditional statues and sculptures. Some cities are famous for abundance of eye candy as you walk down the streets. Barcelona is definitely one of them. And the nice thing is that people are out there enjoying them. Walking down the two-level boardwalk along the beach is terrific for people watching, inhaling the fresh sea air, and being in awe of the fabulous sculptures and architecture you pass along the way.

A stroll along Barcelona’s boardwalk is highlighted by “the Fish” sculpture by Frank Gehry

And there’s the Gaudi influence. I’d grown up using the word “gaudy” for describing something excessively bright, showy, tasteless or over the top. BB (before Barcelona,) I had always equated the word gaudy with the architect, Gaudi, as I had it ingrained in my mind that Gaudi’s architecture was considered by many as being gaudy. It is only today as I am writing this blog and referred to my trusty Canadian Oxford dictionary, that I see the origin of the word gaudy is a late 15th century word with Latin origins, existing long before Antoni Gaudi y Cornet (1852-1926.)

Surprisingly, I didn’t find Gaudi’s work to be gaudy. It is unusual, striking, inventive, and yes … “over the top” in many ways, but certainly not distasteful. What really impressed me about Gaudi’s work is that he is the instrument behind the infamous Sagrada Familia, a magnificent church that has been under construction for well over 100 years (the first stone was laid in 1882 and it is expected to be completed by 2030) yet, some of his work is quite modernistic in appearance (the apartment complex, La Pedrera for example.) Here’s a look at Gaudi old and new. What do you think?

the main entrance to Sagrada Familia

Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia has been under construction for nearly 130 years and is expected to take another 20 years to complete

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

26 Responses

  1. click here says:

    World trade center upfront was a marvel to my eyes.This city is so beautiful in all the place meant.Many Inside structure at park gull.Fantastic journey in Barcelona city.

  2. The Grecian says:

    I agree, I don’t think the Sagrada Familia is gaudy at all either. Hopefully, I’d still be alive by the time it gets done! 😉

  3. Thanks to Sam and Barrie for your comments.

    Barcelona truly is a wonderful city that inspires, titillates and satisfies!

  4. I hope to see Barcelona in this lifetime. Thanks for the beautiful pictures of the public art. The video of the Sagrada Familia is the only view of the cathedral that I’ve seen in which you really get a sense of how light plays with all of the forms of the interior.

  5. Sam Scribe says:

    I saw your note about your blog on Tripatini. It’s a pleasure to walk through Barcelona with you.

  6. Ralph Murray says:

    Hi Doreen,
    Thanks for bringing back great memories of Barcelona. We took a day trip by train from Salou were we were on vacation. I agree with all your adjectives of the Gaudi influences. Can I add whimsical to the list ☺ The Sagrada Familia was truly awesome.

  7. Your photos and notes really show us Barcelona, not just tell us about it. It looks like there was a great array of art and architecture from the old times to the new. What a wonderful opportunity–combining this with learning about the chocolate of Barcelona and Spain.
    I think that I’d like Spain to be my next place that I visit in Europe.

  8. Great post Doreen, Barcelona offers so much to see… and taste! it’s actually one of the favorite destinations of our foodie customers travelling to Spain: tapas and pintxos, cooking classes, culinary excursions to Girona, Empordà…

    • Thanks very much for joining in the conversation. Yes, the food in Barcelona (and Spain in general) is totally amazing. We’ve got to go back and find some better tapas. The ones we had were OK, but not super. But I’ve certainly had awesome ones in my previous trips to Spain. (And the pintxos in Basque Country are among the best I’ve ever tasted!)

  9. Thanks, Judie, for dropping into the blog and for your kind words. Hope you’ll join us again next week to see what we’re discussing!

    And thanks again, to my wonderful travelling companion and research assistant, Virginia, for keeping things fresh. Never a dull moment, and you’re right! Barcelona is so satisfying for those of us who like a little adventure in our travels.

  10. As Doreen describes, Barcelona is a surprise-around-every-corner kind of place. I think even if you lived there, you would be in a constant state of discovery. For those of us who crave exploration and surprise, the city is a European destination without rival. Bravo, Barcelona!

  11. judie fein says:

    You make me want to go back to Barcelona…now. I love the fact that you draw our attention to what’s right there, all around us–the art of the street. thank you!

  12. Keith says:

    Hi Doreen,
    Love this post! Barcelona is one of my favourite cities in the world. Gaudi and Miro certainly left their mark in the city but there’s so much more to see, from the atmospheric lanes in the Gothic Quarter to the broad boulevard of Barcelonetta. Absolutely stunning!
    Next time you’re there, I highly recommend touring the city on a Segway! It’s great fun!

    Cheers,
    Keith

    • I could definitely try a Segway, Keith! Looks like fun, and not too dangerous! Virginia had wanted us to rent bicycles in Amsterdam, but they move so fast, I was apprehensive! I’m a coaster when it comes to getting around in a city new to me. Thanks for dropping in the blog. I hope we’ll see you again here soon.

  13. One has to see to believe Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Amazing detail and love the ”sand” sculpture look to it all. Fascinating place. Look forward to returning to Barcelona.

  14. Here is the link to a video that not only shows you the Sagrada Familia (inside and out) but also has the Allan Parsons soundtrack of the song by the same name (from the album, “Gaudi”) that Elizabeth refers to in her post:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5EALCeAFgs&feature=related.

    Awesome!

  15. Thanks for your comments, gals.

    Elizabeth, I will indeed look up that album by APP. I remember loving their music way back when.

    Nicole, you are fortunate to have made it into Gaudi Park. We went by it, but alas, didn’t have time to venture in. Maybe on our next visit …

  16. I loved Barcelona’s street art–it was honestly one of the only things that drew me into the city. I made the trek up the up huge, long hill to the Guadi park and saw the most amazing view of the city Mediterranean. Follow me @ExplorePangea

  17. Your comments on Gaudi remind me of one of my favourite albums by Allan Parsons Project. The entire album is based on the themes of Gaudi’s life and art/architecture, and is entitled, simply, Gaudi. It is still available – I found it on Amazon, but I am sure eBay and other sites would be worth checking. Some of the tunes would make great background music for a slideshow of Gaudi images in your collection, Doreen! ;o)

  18. Boomergirl says:

    I am a huge fan of Gaudi. TVO awhile back ran a great doc on him. Thanks for a fun read and a close up shot of La Pedrera.

  1. January 31, 2012

    […] am a huge fan of Gehry, most recently admiring his work on the famous boardwalk in Barcelona, Spain. His architectural designs are awe-inspiring and unquestionably unique. They have won the man and […]

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