For spring break Pat, Vicki, and I ventured across Spain! We hit three cities: Barcelona, Granada, and Seville. Like fall break, I’ve organized my pictures based on each city and have attached the links both in the text and at the bottom of the page. The trip began EARLY Saturday morning when we caught our flight to Barcelona! After making it into the city, checking into our Airbnb, and grabbing tapas for lunch, we headed to the terraces and gardens around the Palau Nacional, the Catalan Art Museum. There we walked around the luscious gardens with extravagant fountains and visited Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona Pavilion. Then we grabbed a fruit smoothie and walked up and down La Rambla. That night we had a yummy paella dinner with sangria in the Gothic Quarter.
Sunday morning we woke up and went to Mass at the Sagrada Familia, taking time to explore the church and its museum. The international Mass was conducted in multiple languages and was beautiful to take in. Just as Mass ended I surprisingly ran into my friend Molly from Pasquerilla East (my dorm back at ND) who is abroad in Toledo, Spain this semester. The architect, Antoni Gaudi, was a structural genius but is more known for his creativity and expression of natural forms. The church has been under construction since 1882 and is projected to be completed in 2026. After seeing Gaudi’s best known structure, we got lunch and headed to see the outside of another of his famous buildings, Casa Milà. The apartment building is famous for looking like an ocean-side cliff, weathered by waves and strewn with iron railings reminiscent of seaweed. With an emphasis on organic forms, the building contains no straight lines. Next we headed to Gaudi’s Casa Batlló for a tour. It was just as colorful, beautiful, intricate, and all around as impressive as I expected it to be! After participating in the Spanish custom of siesta, a midday rest period partially practiced to avoid the intense summer heat, we explored a little bit of the Gothic Quarter and had another delicious tapas dinner.
We slept in a little on Monday morning to catch up from an intense couple days and prepare us for another set of early mornings and heavy walking days. We began by walking to Park Güell, another of Gaudi’s masterpieces. There we walked around, sat in the sun, and enjoyed the weather. Next we explored the Gothic Quarter during the day, walked through the Triumphal Arch, and saw the Monumental Cascade Fountain (even though it didn’t have running water). We proceeded to the beach, where we sat on the sand while eating some yummy candy. We walked along the shore as the sun set and then grabbed dinner. To see Barcelona pictures click here or at the bottom of the post.
Tuesday began bright and early with a flight to Malaga, from which we took a bus to Granada. After arriving in Granada, eating lunch, and checking into the Airbnb, we explored the impressive cathedral. Afterward we walked around the Albaicin neighborhood known for its Muslim influence and Medieval Moorish architecture. The streets were bursting with exciting shops. We also hiked a little ways up to the Sacromonte area which is famous for its cave houses. The cave homes are rather picturesque with whitewashed exteriors cropped into the mountainside. They were traditionally occupied by the Roma (Gypsy) population. From Sacromonte we had spectacular views of the Alhambra, especially when it was lit up at night. No surprise, we had another mouthwatering tapas dinner that night.
Wednesday was the day I had anticipated most because it was the day we visited the Alhambra Palace. Not only is the massive complex staggeringly beautiful, its vast, interwoven, and layered history is very interesting. The Alhambra, and Granada as a whole, saw the dialogue between three major world religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Control of the region, and naturally the Alhambra, changed back and forth over time. The buildings, decoration, and gardens in the comlex are magical. After spending all morning in the Alhambra, we had a filling lunch and we explored some hidden gems in the city like an old bath complex, marketplaces, some traditional Islamic homes, and a very local, traditional ceramic shop! We then had a little siesta, ate dinner, and went to a Flamenco show since Granada is in the hotbed of this style of song and dance. Click here (or at the end of the post) if you would like to see photos from Granada.
Our last day began early on a bus to Seville, where we spent the day before flying back to Rome. We started at the Cathedral which claims to be the third largest church in the world and the largest Gothic cathedral. Inside we saw the tomb of Christopher Columbus. Again, the church, like this whole region of Spain, saw shifts in religious control over time, so some pre-existing Islamic elements were incorporated into the Cathedral. For example, the bell tower, which we climbed, was originally a mosque’s minaret. Another interesting side note about the bell tower is that, instead of containing stairs, it is completely ramped. Next we visited the Alcázar Palace, which was similar to the Alhambra in function, history, and beauty. In fact, the HBO series “Game of Thrones” filmed the Dorne scenes in the Alcázar! After being bombarded by rain, our last stop in Seville was the Plaza de España, a beautiful arcaded building and fountain built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. Created specifically to celebrate the character of the region and Spain as a whole, ceramics in little alcoves depict all of the provinces of Spain. It was also used as a filming location in Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones. As we walked to our bus to the airport we passed the Real Maestranza, the arena that holds the city’s famous bullfights. Here are my pictures from the stunning city of Seville. After a longer than expected travel processes, we made it back to Rome, only to leave hours later for our Naples and Sicily field trip!