Barcelona Photoblog: March 2006

March 31, 2006

Francesc Macià Square: Winterthur Vanishes

Francesc Macià Square: Winterthur Vanishes

Today's image depicts Plaça Francesc Macia, one of the roundabouts of La Avinguda Diagonal . The building on the right built in the seventies used to be Winterthur's headquarters. This insurance company got rid of it three years ago and a luxury hotel is scheduled to open soon keeping the peculiar arches or shells of the façade. As the picture looked pretty standard I decided to select the building, saturate and tint the windows yellow, and then I inverted all the colors.

March 30, 2006

Paseo San Juan: The Billowing Balconies

Paseo San Juan: The Billowing Balconies

Passeig de Sant Joan together with Carrer Aribau, the Rondes and Avinguda Diagonal mark the boundaries of the so called golden square or Quadrat d'Or the exclusive area of the Eixample where most of the modernist buildings are and whose core is Passeig de Gracia; why so many?, well, at the beginnings of last century the Catalan middle class moved from what is nowadays the old part of the city to the Eixample and as a result of their vanity and well doing architecture burst up. Though not so impressive as its neighbors, Paseo San Juan shows off houses with spectacular balconies such as the one in today's picture. Its like watching the waves of the sea or a billowing flag.

March 29, 2006

Plaza Real: Shadows of Barcelona

Plaza Real: Shadows of Barcelona

If you come to Barcelona this place is a must, be it day or night. In the morning you can sit in the terraces protected in the long shadows of the arcade or under the palm trees. At night trendy bars or night clubs await. You have hostels and restaurants, you have concerts, you have small thieves and police cars. You name it.

During my many incursions in Las Ramblas I like to hide from the sun and steal some back light pictures like these.

March 28, 2006

Montjuic: Woman and Dome

Montjuic: Woman and Dome

This sculpture was unveiled during the Olympic Games of Barcelona 1992. Located near the entrance of MNAC (National Art Museum of Catalonia) in the Palau de la Mercè whose main dome you can see in the background, the woman seems to be the same size as the building. I wanted to confront sculpture and architecture in the same picture,two secular expressions of human creativity that always go hand in hand.

March 27, 2006

Modernisme in BW

Modernisme in black and white

This is one of the many buildings that represent Catalan modernisme along Diagonal Ave. The picture was taken from the bus. I again used the angle looking for perspective. The shot was made directly in black and white. Diagonal is one of the main streets of Barcelona cutting the metropolitan area into two, the Zona Alta and the lower portion of the city.

March 26, 2006

Sagrada Familia: The Jungle Columns

Sagrada Familia: The Jungle Columns

Architecture imitates mother nature sometimes when it comes to capricious forms defying the laws of physics. Imagine a huge tree with a thick trunk and a heavy load of foliage on top. Picture yourself taking a closer look to its base: a dense labyrinth of arched roots that know nothing about calculus, geometry or physics deadening the enormous weight, spreading the charge and making a bigger base. Now take all that draw it on a plane without Autocad or Maya. Don´t get scared, you can´t but Gaudi did. He didn´t invent the buttress and prop systems as they were widely used in cathedrals before but he took it to a mathematical perfection. I already have this image published at Flickr but I wanted to share it with you that appreciate art and are eager to know more about each other's cities.

March 25, 2006

Casa Bruno Quadros: Modernism or Eclectic Whim

Casa Bruno Quadros: Modernism or Eclectic Whim: Click to Resize

At number 82 of Las Ramblas (remember the place I mentioned in the Dragon and Umbrella post) Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas the same artist that designed L'Arc del Trionf located east of barri gótic, built this house from 1891 to 1896, meant to be an umbrella shop. The building is often disregarded as part of Catalan Modernisme because of its eclectic style splashed as it is with so many elements of Far East inspiration in vogue during the Universal Exposition of 1888. Though I had shown the other side I believe its beauty well deserves a second glance.

March 24, 2006

The Olympic Barcelona Shuttle

The Olympic Barcelona Shuttle: Click to resize

Designed by Santiago Calatrava, the famous architect, this antenna was conceived for the Spanish Telecom but it never worked as it was useless for radio telecommunications. Built for the Olympic Games of Barcelona 1992 it stands near Palau Sant Jordi, a covered stadium where main sports events are held as well as big concerts. The picture was slightly blurred so I decided to accentuate the silhouette against the sky as it is the shape what gives the place the charming futuristic touch.

March 23, 2006

Barcelona Artists: Drawings or Photos?

Barcelona Artists: Drawings or Photos?: Click to resize

How many times have you seen these anonymous artists while going for a stroll in big cities like London, Paris, Rome or maybe your own? In Barcelona you may have the chance to have your small photo drawn freehand if you don´t have patience enough to sit and pose while being the center of attention of onlookers. Maybe you are later exhibited in this gallery of famous hollywood actors. Conclusion: Yet another expression of art to enjoy in Las Ramblas.

March 22, 2006

Street Artist Photo VII: The Saga

Street Artist Photo VII: The Saga Continues

It is spring, and the sun comes out in all its splendor over Barcelona. Birds go into business and flowers in the stalls along La Rambla de las Flors indulge in their particular beauty contest. Lucky tourists who managed to win the weather lotto go like crazy up and down the promenade. Time for Barcelona street artists to work extra hours. After assuming I had seen them all, I have to accept the inevitable truth, they clone like Molly. See this elegant gentleman spreading his wings while holding tight his records of financial transactions.

March 21, 2006

Vertigo at the Edge of the Vortex

Vertigo at the Edge of the Vortex

Alfred Hitchcock might as well have used Sagrada Familia for his Vertigo movie. This is the core of the spire as seen from the shaft of the lift that saves you the painstaking effort of climbing the extremely narrow spiral staircase which you can see at the far end. At the moment the price for this compensation is to stand in line for a while and pay 2 euros for the elevator.

March 20, 2006

Art Likes Black and White

Art Likes Black and White: Click to resize

Not everything accepts black and white as art does. If you liked those clear blues skies in the previous post, notice here how this masterpiece needs not to be reinforced by color. This again is the Passion façade and I post the picture to show the covered spires and the scaffolding that is omnipresent in the new side. Thanks to my friend Bob from Barcelona daily photo for reminding me that not all the towers look so polished, as some of them are covered by some green plastic net. Thanks to Lisi from Hong Kong daily photo for asking what the letters on the spires read - "Hosanna in Excelsis. Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus" something that is said at the end of Sanctus in Mass. The towers as you know represent the Holy Family.

March 19, 2006

Sagrada Familia 'n' Spires

Sagrada Familia 'n' Spires

How many images have you seen like these: many. But don´t tell me you get tired. Did you know that neither this generation nor next will see Sagrada Familia finished? Did you know that the money to continue Gaudi's work does not come from the government or from taxes but only from donations and the entrance charge? Notice in front of you that there is someone standing in a sort of corridor between the spires, well I am standing with my camera in a similar spot but in the newer towers closer to the Passion Façade.

March 18, 2006

A Touch of Strawberry Red

A Touch of Strawberry Red

Going down Las Ramblas, just next to the Liceu Opera House to your right, you will see the entrance to the most renown market in the city La Boqueria. The place is always full of tourists and locals. Customers fight their way through the crowds of photographers-to-be, camera in hand, competing for the best picture of the remarkable exhibition of exotic or traditional fruit like these healthy red strawberries. The best stalls are right at the main gate though. Try going to the other side then and visit the little squares a couple of blocks away where there are nice restaurants or bars to sit outside in the sun. If you are a graffiti lover you will have a perfect day too. To know more check the history of La Boqueria market.

March 17, 2006

Street Artist Photo VI

Street Artist Photo VI

A new chapter of this serial to be continued. Not only you can find folklore, western, or reminiscence from the Roman Empire, there is also mythology. This photo illustrates the latest trend: sophisticated costumes amazingly wrought and heavy to weigh. Golden winged centaur half-man half-horse (or carousel horse) looks at me claiming for his photo rights.

March 16, 2006

Afternoon of a Faun

Afternoon of a Faun

Just in front of Las Arenas bullring I set eyes on this worker who was doing Spanish siesta after his lunchtime. As the background was the ugliest thing in this world I decided to create a new layer, added the lens effect behind the parking lot vent and some texture to the sand where he was dozing. Today I wanted to stick up for siestas without having to go on strike as Eric at ParisDailyPhoto so humorously suggested the other day (remember my previous post).

March 15, 2006

A Touch of Green

A Touch of Green: Click to resize

Today I felt in the mood for green so I went to Palau Real a beautiful park near Diagonal Ave. and the University of Barcelona . I took a whole series of pictures and wandered through the many paths crawling across the unusually exuberant vegetation. This aquatic plants were delighted with the few sun rays that we could enjoy today in Barcelona.

March 14, 2006

Street Artist Photo V

Street Artist Photo V: Click to resize

Tourists wouldn´t miss by any chance posing with a glittering star like Gary "Cupper" (so would sound Cooper in Spanish more or less). Hope he doesn´t mind me calling him such names. This funny cowboy conquers your camera with his winks and his sweet smile, of course you have to pay a little for the reward but it is worth the price. There's always a history of sacrifice behind each of these performances.

March 13, 2006

Street Artist Photo IV

Street Artist Photo IV

To follow with Las Ramblas street artist series here goes number four. I would call it more or less "My skinny fellow rider" or "The hell of a company". Of course maybe you could come up with much better names. This picture is dedicated to Eric's ParisDailyPhoto who has been publishing a picture a day for a whole year without missing any. Happy Anniversary!

March 12, 2006

Street Artist Photo III

Street Artist Photo III: Click to resize

If one of the living statues in Las Ramblas of Barcelona seems truly realistic this must be the Miner. Notice how the smudge and the soot contribute to give the character the solid appearance of a carved marble stone. Right behind him you can partially see the opera house Liceu.

March 11, 2006

Las Ramblas: Dragon and Umbrella Photo

Just in front of La Boqueria market and very close to the opera house El Liceu, on the façade of one of the art deco style buildings you find this magnificent dragon holding an enormous lamp in menacing attitude as if guarding the old umbrella shop shut down a long time ago. Besides the oversized fan on top, a curious umbrella keeps floating in the air as the reminder of old prosperous times for this trade.

March 10, 2006

Street Artist Photo II

Street Artists Photo II: Click to resize

It is a common belief that here in Spain we go nuts about bullfights, flamenco and spend a lot of time enjoying our siesta, nothing more far from reality. As you saw yesterday in my previous post Las Arenas...we have less bullrings (I have never been to a Plaza de Toros in my life), flamenco is being blended with pop, rock, salsa or even jazz and of course we don´t have time for siesta anymore, hummm, that, I do miss. This bailaor of flamenco (flamenco dancer) was performing near the end of Las Ramblas, suddenly he jumps, I shoot and notice on my screen that his legs were not even blurred in the picture. You have to admit that good dancers sometimes flow in the air.

March 09, 2006

Las Arenas: A Historic Barcelona Bullring to Become a Leisure Center

Las Arenas

Ready for the latest in architecture, well maybe you have not seen it all. That you have to build a leisure center but you have a historic bullring such as Las Arenas in the way, no problem we call Richard Rogers the English architect we put some props under the brickwork and we lift it up to go underneath. You don´t believe it, well just check the photo I took this morning. The main purpose of this center will be to provide a link for pedestrians who want to walk between the Montjuic area where you have the Olympic stadium and some important museums like Art Gallery Fundació Miró towards Parc Joan Miró on the other side. Under a huge translucid dome enjoying the food of the many restaurants, jogging round the circular track or simply going to the cinema, people from Barcelona and tourists will be more than just pleased.

March 08, 2006

Joan Miro: A Photo in Pastel

Dona i ocell (Woman and Bird), in the Parc de l'Escorxador (literally Slaughterhouse Park), was inaugurated April 16, 1983 and was meant to welcome visitors coming to Barcelona traveling overland. Placed in the same place where the slaughterhouse used to be from 1892 to 1979, it is a combination of phallic and female genital elements, evoking the Roman habit of engraving or carving such images or motifs on the city gates to wish travelers good health and give them strength. The collage of colors against the blue sky reminded me of some aquarel or oil pastel painting so I decided to enhance that by giving the not so beautiful buildings in the back some artistic daubs with a well known image editor. Perhaps you would like to follow this link to Joan Miró

March 07, 2006

Street Artist Photo

Barcelona is a cultural melting pot, and Las Ramblas is the main stage. Street artists from all over the world, scattered among flower and animal stalls give their particular impersonation of different characters, acting as human statues that witness silently the parade of tourists swarming around them to steal pictures and maybe drop some coins in their "vase".

March 06, 2006

Sagrada Familia: Mosaic Detail of a Spire

This is a wonderful view of one of the spires in the Sagrada Familia Cathedral. After taking a lift where you are charged two euros (better than climbing up the spiral staircase which is very narrow) you get to a small passage between the towers from where the city, the sea and the mountains can be seen in all its splendor. Small details of this unfinished masterpiece like this mosaic buttons stand right before you, making your camera hesitate between them or a good picture of the skyline.

March 05, 2006

The Hanging Gardens of Barcelona

The Hanging Gardens: Click Here

This is not the seventh wonder but it is definitely a building full of life near La Illa shopping mall on Diagonal Avenue. In your way towards the center of the city coming from Tarragona and on your left you have a wide promenade for people and bikes with trees alongside, from where you can enjoy sights such as this.

March 04, 2006

Smart Stack of Cars

Smart Stack of Cars

Believe me I don´t get tips for this pseudo ad, but if you like cars like me you have to admit that it is a great display. I had seen this car dealership many times but it never occurred to me that it would be so photo friendly. You can see it near El Corte Inglés (Diagonal Ave.), a nationwide chainstore and maybe the richest together with Zara.

March 03, 2006

Rambla de Cataluña: Posing Giraffe

This graceful giraffe is called Coqueta (coquettish) and with it you enter Rambla de Cataluña through the mountain side (in Barcelona when you give directions everything is mountain side or sea side). The sculpture was made by Josep Granyer in 1972. At the far end of this long avenue, that is, sea side you will finally meet a bull, a bronze one of course by the same artist. This main artery is a must if you travel to Barcelona because of the sights, the architecture and the great variety of restaurants and shops in the area.

March 02, 2006

Hot Costumes

Now that is carnival time there´s nothing like "hot" costumes to wear. I noticed this funny windowcase where manikins were basking in the sun on top of the main floor of this little shop at Plaza Ibiza in Horta, a quarter near the hills surrounding the city.

March 01, 2006

Reflections on Tomatoes

Though it is a simple photo I like the illusion it creates. From my car I took this picture of a big ad on the side of a truck driving by. 

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