Sagrada Familia

gaudi-temple-barcelonaI got this pin in Barcelona at the Sagrada Famlia in January 2016.

The stunning La Sagrada Família is a must-see for any tourist passing through Barcelona. The towering, still-under-construction basilica is beloved architect Antoni Gaudí’s most celebrated work. The building of this ornamental wonder began in 1882 and is currently ongoing. Though it is the most visited monument in Spain, welcoming more than three million visitors each year, La Sagrada Família is still very much a place of worship—so much so that Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the church in 2010. The Temple holds Sunday mass once every couple of months, and there are special visiting hours for The Chapel of the Holy Sacrament and Penitence, which is reserved for prayer.

Whether you visit La Sagrada Família to take in its intricate and fascinating design, or as part of a holy pilgrimage, it is truly a wonder to behold. Below are 9 things you might not have heard about Spain’s ultimate attraction.

  1. The first completed facade is titled The Birth of Christ and within this facade are three portals: “The Portal of Hope,” “The Portal of Mercy,” and “The Portal of Faith.” The faces on “The Portal of Mercy” are actually sculpted from the death masks of diseased Barcelona citizens, as well as builders of La Sagrada Família—it was Gaudí’s way of paying tribute to these people.
  2. La Sagrada Família will take longer to complete than the Egyptian pyramids. It started in 1882 and is hoped to be completed in 2026 (the centennial of Gaudí’s death), though it might not be finished until as late as 2040. The Great Pyramid, by comparison, only took 20 years.
  3. The project was first commissioned for Francisco Del Vilar by the Spiritual Association of Devotees of Saint Joseph. He built the crypt, but after creative disagreements he dropped the site and it was passed over to Gaudí.
  4. Gaudí disliked straight lines and angles because they don’t often appear naturally. Instead, he based his design on the swirling curves of nature.
  5. There is endless natural symbolism within La Sagrada Família. The interior structure is supported by large pillars that look like trees. One pillar has a turtle at its base, and another a tortoise in order to show the balance between land and sea.
  6. Gaudí didn’t just use the natural world for inspiration; he used it to develop architectural techniques. Gaudí analyzed plants, animals, and geothermal formations to see how they naturally supported shapes and weight. The orbit of the stars was used to design the helicoidal columns.
  7. Gaudí believed that no man-made object should be constructed higher than the work of God. Therefore, La Sagrada Família, when completed, will tower at 170 meters (560 ft), which was intended to be one meter less than Barcelona’s highest point, Montjuïc hill.
  8. In 1936, a group of anarchists and revolutionaries set fire to the crypt and destroyed the workshop which contained all of the plans and models—thankfully a scarce few were saved.
  9. The holy place was built to be seen from all points of the city. It has glass mosaics at its highest points, which when reflected by sun or moonlight act as beacons to guide seafarers home.

Location: 25-D1

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Spain’s Coat of Arms

spain-coatI got this pin at the Hard Rock Cafe in Barcelona in January 2016. It shows the central part of Spain’s coat of arms. The full coat of arms is shown below the description that follows. The pillars and banner that go on each side of the coat of arms are not included on this pin.

The current coat of arms of Spain, although it has its roots centuries ago, was approved by law in 1981. The coat of arms appears in the flag of Spain.

The Spanish coat of arms symbolizes the country, the old kingdoms of Spain, the Royal Crown, the Imperial Crown, the Constitutional monarchy, the Spanish national motto: Plus Ultra, and the Pillars of Hercules with the Spanish geographic situation. The Monarch, the heir to the throne and some institutions like the Senate, the Council of State or the General Council of the Judiciary have their own arms.

The blazon of the Spanish coat of arms is follows:

Quarterly, first quarter Gules a triple-towered castle Or masoned Sable and ajoure Azure (for Castile); second quarter Argent a lion rampant Purpure crowned Or, langued and armed Gules (for León); third quarter Or, four pallets Gules (for the former Crown of Aragon), fourth quarter Gules a cross, saltire and orle of chains linked together Or, a centre point Vert (for Navarre); enté en point a pomegranate proper seeded Gules, supported, sculpted and leafed in two leaves Vert (for Granada); overall an escutcheon Azure bordure Gules, three fleurs-de-lys Or (for the regnant House of Bourbon-Anjou); for a Crest, a circlet Or, jewellespain-coat-of-armsd with eight breeches of bear or oyster plant leaves, five shown, with pearls on points Or inserted and above which rise arches decorated with pearls and surmounted by a monde Azure with its equator, its upper half-meridian and a latin cross Or, the crown capped Gules (the Spanish royal crown); for Supporters, two columns Argent with capital and base Or, standing on five waves Azure and Argent, surmounted dexter by an imperial crown and sinister the Spanish royal crown, the columns surrounded by a ribbon Gules charged with the Motto ‘Plus Ultra’ written Or (the Pillars of Hercules).

Location: 25-C1

Barcelona, Spain (2)

barcelona-spain-3Another pin from the Hard Rock Cafe in Barcelona. I am NO fan of rock music, but I love the atmosphere of Hard Rock Cafes around the world. My hotel was not far from the Plaça de Catalunya (Catalan language) meaning in English “Catalonia Square”; sometimes referred to as Plaza de Cataluña, its Spanish name. The Square is a large square in central Barcelona that is generally considered to be both its city center and the place where the old city and the 19th century-built city meet.

Some of the city’s most important streets and avenues meet at Plaça Catalunya. The plaza occupies an area of about 50,000 square meters. It is especially known for itsplaca-de-catalunya fountains and statues, its proximity to some of Barcelona’s most popular attractions, and for the flocks of pigeons that gather in the center. January weather was not bad and the tourist population seems to be very small compared to the favorite tourist months.

Location: 25-B1

Barcelona Cathedral

templo-expiatorio-de-la-sagrada-familiaThe Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família; Spanish: Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia; English: Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family) is a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, designed by Catalan Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). I visited here in January, 2016.

Although incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated and proclaimed it a minor basilica, as distinct from a cathedral, which must be the seat of a bishop.

Construction of Sagrada Família commenced in 1882 by architect Francisco Paula de Villar with Gaudí becoming involved in 1883 after Francisco resigned as the head architect. Taking over the project, Gaudí transformed it with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.

Sagrada Familia’s construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project’s greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death.

The basílica has a long history of dividing the citizens of Barcelona: over the initial possibility it might compete with Barcelona’s cathedral, over Gaudí’s design itself, over the possibility that work after Gaudí’s death disregarded his design, and the 2007 proposal to build an underground tunnel of Spain’s high-speed rail link to France which could disturb its stability. Describing Sagrada Família, art critic Rainer Zerbst said, “It is probably impossible to find a church building anything like it in the entire history of art”[12] and Paul Goldberger describes it as, “The most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages.”

Location: 25-A2barcelona-cathedral-picbarcelona-cathedral

Bicycling

chain-wheelCycling was a passion for me for many years until I developed muscular dystrophy and, well, that’s it. I really got into the sport when I lived in Houston. I had friends there who shared the enthusiasm. I was a member of the League of American Wheelmen (now named League of American Bicyclists). I did a ride of 200 miles in less than 24 hours. I did many long tours, including one from Montreal to North Adams, MA. I had a full tool kit, and rode on sew-ups. Well, that’s all past. This pin is a chain-wheel from a bicycle and is a perfect symbol of my past enthusiasm.

Location: 21-B1

Valencia (2)

valencia-crestThis is a second pin from Valencia. It has the proper Spanish colors for the stripes. It also has the bat crest. Shopping in Valencia is amazing—especially the food markets. Below is a picture of a booth in a market, handling only hams!

 

valencia-ham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Location: 20-F2

Barcelona, Spain

barcelona-spainI got this pin in Barcelona, Spain in January 2016. I enjoyed a pulled pork sandwich at the Hard Rock Cafe there. Barcelona is the capital city of the autonomous community of Catalonia in the Kingdom of Spain, as well as the country’s second most populous municipality, with a population of 1.6 million within city limits. I was surprised to learn that it is illegal to post signs in Spanish. The permitted language is Caltalon.

Barcelona’s urban area extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of around 4.7 million people, being the sixth-most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, London, Madrid, the Ruhr area and Milan. It is the largest metropolis on the Mediterranean Sea, located on the coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs, and bounded to the west by the Serra de Collserola mountain range, the tallest peak of which is 512 meters (1,680 ft) high.

Founded as a Roman city, in the Middle Ages Barcelona became the capital of the County of Barcelona. After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, Barcelona continued to be an important city in the Crown of Aragon as an economic and administrative center of this Crown and the capital of the Principality of Catalonia. Besieged several times during its history, Barcelona has a rich cultural heritage and is today an important cultural center and a major tourist destination. Particularly renowned are the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí (more on that later) and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean is located in Barcelona. The city is known for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics as well as world-class conferences and expositions and also many international sport tournaments.

Barcelona is one of the world’s leading tourist, economic, trade fair and cultural centers, and its influence in commerce, education, entertainment, media, fashion, science, and the arts all contribute to its status as one of the world’s major global cities. It is a major cultural and economic center in southwestern Europe, 24th in the world (before Zürich, after Frankfurt) and a financial center. In 2008 it was the fourth most economically powerful city by GDP in the European Union and 35th in the world with GDP amounting to €177 billion. In 2012 Barcelona had a GDP of $170 billion; it is leading Spain in both employment rate and GDP per capita change. In 2009 the city was ranked Europe’s third and one of the world’s most successful as a city brand. In the same year the city was ranked Europe’s fourth best city for business and fastest improving European city, with growth improved by 17% per year, but it has since been in a full recession with declines in both employment and GDP per capita, with some recent signs of the beginning of an economic recovery. Since 2011 Barcelona is a leading smart city in Europe. Barcelona is a transport hub with the Port of Barcelona being one of Europe’s principal seaports and busiest European passenger port, an international airport, Barcelona–El Prat Airport, which handles above 40 million passengers per year, an extensive motorway network and a high-speed rail line with a link to France and the rest of Europe.

Location: 25-A1

Viking Boat Museum

kon-tiki-museumI got this pin in Oslo, Norway in May 2015 at the Viking Boat Museum. By this time walking for me had become very difficult. I suspect this was the last time I will actually be able to take a good tour of a city or even a museum. Alas.

The museum is exceptional regarding the Kon-Tiki. Regardless of what it may or may not have proven, the voyage of Heyerdahl’s raft was remarkable.

 

kon-tiki-at-sea

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Location: 25-A3

Viking Boat 3

viking-boat-3This is another pin from the Viking Boat Museum in Oslo, Norway. I visited there in May 2015.

Location: 20-G4

Kon-Tiki 1947

kontiki-1947I got this pin in May, 2015 at the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo, Norway.

On August 7, 1947, Kon-Tiki, a balsa wood raft captained by Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl, completes a 4,300-mile, 101-day journey from Peru to Raroia in the Tuamotu Archipelago, near Tahiti. Heyerdahl wanted to prove his theory that prehistoric South Americans could have colonized the Polynesian islands by drifting on ocean currents.

Heyerdahl and his five-person crew set sail from Callao, Peru, on the 40-square-foot Kon-Tiki on April 28, 1947. The Kon-Tiki, named for a mythical white chieftain, was made of indigenous materials and designed to resemble rafts of early South American Indians. While crossing the Pacific, the sailors encountered storms, sharks and whales, before finally washing ashore at Raroia. Heyerdahl, born in Larvik, Norway, on October 6, 1914, believed that Polynesia’s earliest inhabitants had come from South America, a theory that conflicted with popular scholarly opinion that the original settlers arrived from Asia. Even after his successful voyage, anthropologists and historians continued to discredit Heyerdahl’s belief. However, his journey captivated the public and he wrote a book about the experience that became an international bestseller and was translated into 65 languages. Heyerdahl also produced a documentary about the trip that won an Academy Award in 1951.

Heyerdahl made his first expedition to Polynesia in 1937. He and his first wife lived primitively on Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas Islands for a year and studied plant and animal life. The experience led him to believe that humans had first come to the islands aboard primitive vessels drifting on ocean currents from the east.

Following the Kon-Tiki expedition, Heyerdahl made archeological trips to such places as the Galapagos Islands, Easter Island and Peru and continued to test his theories about how travel across the seas played a major role in the migration patterns of ancient cultures. In 1970, he sailed across the Atlantic from Morocco to Barbados in a reed boat named Ra II (after Ra, the Egyptian sun god) to prove that Egyptians could have connected with pre-Columbian Americans. In 1977, he sailed the Indian Ocean in a primitive reed ship built in Iraq to learn how prehistoric civilizations in Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley and Egypt might have connected.

While Heyerdahl’s work was never embraced by most scholars, he remained a popular public figure and was voted “Norwegian of the Century” in his homeland. He died at age 87 on April 18, 2002, in Italy. The raft from his famous 1947 expedition is housed at the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo, Norway.

NOTE: Recently DNA evidence has proven that Polynesia was NOT settled by people from South America. It would have been possible, as proven by Heyerdahl, IF people had actually been in S. America. However, DNA shows it want the other way.

Location: 20-G3