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 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.