Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Barcelona: Day 26 : Cooler Weather and Gorgeous "Sites" .

Today was great, as the first thing that happened when I walked out the door was the rush of cool air in my face. Oh, how I long for it to be in the 60's everyday! I was almost tempted to go and put on jeans or something of the sort, had it not been for my lack of cooler weather-wear, as I had assumed that Madrid would be just as toasty as Barcelona. However, this day would be yet another great day of exploring. I had my presentation to do, on the Buen Retiro Park, which really held some interesting facts and buried secrets.

We started off by visiting the Caixa Forum, which used to be an old industrial area. There is also a Caixa Forum in Barcelona, but this one was much different. This particular Caixa Forum is very similar to the Forum complex along the coast in Barcelona, and after all why wouldn't it be, it was designed by the same guys: Herzog and De Meuron. There is a small plaza there now, where a gas station used to exist, and upon entering the building it seems to magically float with no support at all for its massive structure. The building itself used to be a power station, until the bottom was removed, giving it the appearance of defying gravity. Nowadays, it acts as a cultural and artistic institution with multiple theaters. There is also a parking garage underneath, as is typical with many Spanish structures.

Herzog and De Meuron wanted to have 2 separate programs for the building. The first was the museum, the culture and the art, and the second was this mystical subterranean level. The 2 were broken up by the void that provides an entrance. Once you walk under the building, you can see the similarities: the water features; the smooth concrete and cement surfaces; the low ceilings. The last thing about it that is really interesting is the wall of foliage that greets you beside the building. It's almost as if they wanted to put a garden there, but ran out of room, and therefore created one on the side of a building.
 The museum inside actually had some really interesting things, but the one that really caught my eye were the several rooms dedicated to the Haiti earthquake. They had one room that had a video, and upon the earthquake happening, the floor you were standing on began to erratically oscillate. It was freaky, because I knew that just a month earlier or so I felt that happen for real, just sitting at my kitchen table in New Jersey. It was unsettling. There was also a section of photography regarding the Haiti catastrophe. The photos were brilliant, capturing the essence of hope and rebuilding, but also exemplifying just how bad it was for everyone who went through it. You could see how homes were ripped apart; how the Earth seems to have disregard for anyone and everything when these natural disasters happen. My one thought was that at least it was natural, and not a blatant attack on another country...
 We then moved on to my particular site, which, as mentioned before, was the Buen Retiro Park. Though I had seen a few pictures and read some things about it in order to make my presentation, it was nothing like being there.
We first started at the memorial for the victims of the terrorist attack at the Atocha train station in 2004. If you remember, there is actually a memorial at the train station itself; but this one is a bit more solemn and perhaps meaningful. It's really simple, with a winding pathway surrounding by bushes and trees. The whole thing curls up a small hill, with a little gravel circle at the top. One way in, one way out. The entire hill, with the exception of the entrance, is encircled at the bottom by what could be called a moat of sorts. Originally it was named el Bosque de los Ausientes (Forest of the Departed) but it has since been renamed to el Bosque del Recuerdo, at the request of the victims' families, who said that the people killed are ever-present in their minds and will never leave their hearts. On this hill there are 191 cypresses and olive trees, the exact number of those who died.

Other parts of the park include the Palacio de Cristal (the Crystal Palace) which was done by Ricardo Velásquez Bosco for the Philippine Islands Exhibition. The pavilion is made almost entirely out of glass, and boasts art exhibits, often contemporary ones. It was gorgeous, as you can see, and we had an absolutely perfect day to enjoy it.

From there we moved through the park, enjoying the shades and green pathways (which comes as a breath of fresh air after spending so much time in cities and heavy concrete areas) and spending some time just relaxing in the fresh air. We finished by moving past a lake where they had had a mock naval battle at one point. The lake was surrounded by walkways, and places to sit and eat, and there were tons of people hanging out and walking around and enjoying themselves. Kathrin said that Sundays is the day for people to come to the park; it is a great weekend thing to do (and completely agree!). The lake nowadays is used for rowboat rental space.

The last thing we visited was a chapel with a beautiful fresco done by Goya (one of the most prevalent artists at the El Prado museum. It was really small, but I suppose that created a bit of a cozy feeling inside. They didn't allow any pictures, but as is the norm with these sorts of paintings on the ceilings of religious places, it was quite well done. The crazy thing is it was completed in 6 months. Now, that certainly sounds like a long time, but I suppose for the amount of work done, that is rather impressive. The chapel was called San Antonio de la Florida, because it was dedicated to Saint Antonio.

We got a chance to visit the Prado Museum, but the Panthers were playing at night also so we only spent an hour or so there. Personally, I'm not much of a museum person and move through them pretty quickly -- but it is definitely neat to see things that you've talked about in class. We made a point of seeing Las Meninas as well as a famous Picasso painting. It's cool to see, but I guess we just weren't too inclined to spend hours and hours there.

The best thing about tonight was playing Ninja in the plaza at like 2 in the morning. Gotta love the looks that we were getting from people, especially the cops that were driving by! I must say though -- I think that ninja just might become the game of the trip... it's something you can do anywhere and everywhere! Definitely much more ninja to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Would love to hear what you are thinking. Leave a comment!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...