A click on this icon above displays the list of chapters of this film about Catalonia in Spain. A click on a dot goes directly to a chapter.
Reading the text below will help you better understand the cultural context of the images in this video.
00:49 • Sagrada Familia
00:56 • construction site in 1995
01:36 • Sagrada Familia in 2011
06:25 • Güell Park
If for some, Barcelona evokes above all a football team, for others on the contrary, this city is indissociable from the brilliant architect Antoni Gaudi.
History of Barcelona
Barcelona, capital of Catalonia is the second city of Spain from the point of view of its economy and the number of its inhabitants. The Barcelona conurbation has just under 5 million inhabitants.
The city was founded by the Romans, and more particularly by the son of the Emperor Augustus at the very beginning of our era. Barcelona was a small garrison town at the time.
Barcelona began to grow during the Visigoth invasions in the 5th and 6th centuries and became the capital of the Visigoth Kingdom after being fortified.
Later, at the beginning of the 9th century, the Carolingians conquered the city. It would become the capital of the County of Barcelona before being integrated into the march of Spain.
The Arabs invaded all of Spain at the beginning of the 8th century and Barcelona was no exception. Barcelona are now part of Al Andalus whose capital was Córdoba.
The Normans (who also left important traces in Sicily) looted the city and it was not until 985 that the Caliph of Al Andalus attempted to retake the city. The Count of Barcelona asked for help from his suzerain Lothair of France who could not come to his aid, which pushed Catalonia towards independence, the feudal link having been broken by this refusal of assistance. It was the beginning of a period of prosperity and Barcelona was enriched by the science and culture of many Mozarabs (Christians living in Al Andalus) and Jews fleeing persecution in the Caliphate of Cordoba.
From the 13th century, Barcelona became an unavoidable power in the Mediterranean and rivaled the rich city-states of Italy.
Barcelona lived through sad times under the yoke of the Catholic kings Ferdinand and Isabella and it took many centuries to see the capital of Catalonia flourish again with an economic recovery that began in the 17th century and especially with the industrialization of the early 19th century.
New dark hours were to fall on Barcelona with Francoism following the civil war in Spain.
Once again, Barcelona would rise from the ashes in the early 1970s
Whether you are an enlightened amateur of architecture or a complete ignoramus in the matter, no one could remain indifferent to the art of Antoni Gaudi.
Antoni Gaudi was born in 1852 and died in 1926, knocked down by a tram on his way to church and it was delayed in providing him with the necessary care because he had been taken for a beggar, which made his death inevitable .
Brilliant architect in total break with the canons of the time, Gaudi was not estimated at his fair value during his lifetime because the baroque and excessively dreamlike side of his work shocked many of his contemporaries with less fertile imagination.
It took almost half a century after his death to see Barcelona finally consider Gaudi as one of the greatest artists in Catalonia (and even well beyond these borders).
From its full name, the expiatory temple of the Holy Family is a basilica imagined by Antoni Gaudi and the construction work began in 1882. For the record, this work is not finished at the present time.
The construction of this church had initially been entrusted to a less ambitious and above all much more classical architect, Josep Maria Bocabella, but his project was rejected and Gaudi was commissioned for the construction.
Gaudi's plan was grand, a basilica that could accommodate 140,000 people and topped with 18 towers... 12 of them symbolizing the apostles, 4 for the evangelists, one for the Virgin Mary and one for Jesus.
The construction of a building of this scale was going to suffer from many financial uncertainties and a partial disinterest due in large part to the slowness of the work. Gaudi was fully aware that he would not see the work finished before his death, and for fear of major changes to his plans, he decided to start with the construction of the 18 towers, thus guaranteeing that the initial plans would be impossible to question. These towers are not completely finished nearly a century after his death.
However, Barcelona did not wait for the end of the works (expected in 2026) to put the basilica in working order. Pope Benedict XVI inaugurated the basilica in 2010.
In this film, some images date from 1995 and others from 2011.
Park Güell responds to the wish of a patron of Gaudi to build a garden city on the heights of Barcelona, including a park, a church and 60 houses. The cost of the project was such that only 4 houses were built. Work began in 1900 and was completed in 1914.
For the realization, Gaudi respected the natural relief as well as possible by producing a work which is integrated perfectly into nature, the columns of the alleys symbolizing trees.
Mushroom-shaped houses, a monumental staircase with island-fountains in the center, including one in the shape of a salamander, are some examples of this naturalistic inspiration of Gaudi.
The hpostyle room has 86 columns built to collect rainwater for watering the park as well as for the fountains. Gaudi was an ecologist before his time.
A remarkable undulating bench with a length of 110 meters, which makes it the longest in the world, is a space that is both public and intimate, open to the neighbours. In short, a very popular meeting place.
It's a safe bet that Nek Chand had this extraordinary garden in mind when he created the Rock Garden in Chandigarh, an Indian city designed by Le Corbusier, with salvaged materials from the construction sites of the new town wanted by Pandit Nehru.
What's the weather like in Barcelona?
Spoken comments in the film:
Barcelona, an important Spanish metropolis, has a long and turbulent history, but it was an architect born during the second half of the 19th century who largely gave it its letters of nobility. This film shows you the most important and famous works of Antoni Gaudi.
The impressive construction site began in 1882 and the scale of the task as well as the slowness of the financing presaged an interminable construction of this ambitious basilica. Gaudi understood this well, he would never see the end of the Sagrada Familia construction site. To be sure that his project would not be amputated after his death from the 18 towers planned, he decided to build these first, at least to raise them high enough so that it would be impossible not to complete them. Gaudi died in 1926, and at present, in 2022, the set is not finished, even if the work is very advanced.
Can you guess the number behind the pigeon? This magic square is called Gaudi's magic square, although it was not invented by him. The sum of each row, vertical, horizontal or diagonal, is 33, the age of Christ at his death on the cross.
Park Güell in Barcelona bears the name of its sponsor, a wealthy patron of Gaudi. Güell wanted to build a large garden city on one of the hills of Barcelona, with a public park, a chapel and 60 houses. Gaudi accepted the challenge and drew the plans for a garden respecting the natural relief of the place and decided to integrate the whole into the existing nature. Columns symbolize trees, and houses have a mushroom shape. At least those that were built, because the final project was limited to 4 instead of the 60 planned, in view of budgetary difficulties that one can easily imagine when one sees the realization of this unique place.
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Disclaimer: Despite its appropriateness, copyright issues prevent the use of spanish traditional music in "Barcelona, the city of Gaudi • Spain", hence the use of royalty-free music. Despite our careful selection, some might regret this decision, which is necessary to avoid potential lawsuits. Although difficult, this decision is the only viable solution.