After La Sagrada Família and Parc Güell, it was time to see another Gaudí masterpiece. This one an apartment building in the Eixample district. This is Casa Milà!
Casa Milà was derided and criticized when it was first completed for the Milà family in 1912. It was given the name La Pedrera, “the stone quarry” by early critics.
Casa Milà was certainly tops my list of Barcelona architecture to see and sketch. It is also one of the most visited attractions in the city, Gaudí ‘s La Sagrada Família is the number one most visited site in Catalunya. And considering the annal numbers of tourists that visit Barcelona is over 30 million! Because of this I prebooked my ticket for 9:30.
I walked from my attic flat in the Gràcia neighborhood and 25 minutes later I was at Casa Milà. I found a place to sit across the Passeig de Gràcia from this amazing building and started sketching. I can say that Casa Milà is truly a challenging subject to sketch because there are not many straight lines and it’s facade undulates back-and-forth almost like an ocean wave. Gaudí was really inspired by nature as my audio guide later informed me.
There were already lines of tourist with and without tickets where I got into the equally long line for tickets holders.
Once inside I stared up from the canyon of a courtyard into the clear blue Catalonian sky. This was akin the the experience of looking up into the ceiling a grand cathedral only this time Gaudí was proving a frame for nature. Gaudí was inspired by nature and standing and looking up toward the sky reminded me of a slot canyon in southern Utah or hiking up the Virgin River in the Narrows at Zion National Park. Here Gaudí was provided an escape from the overcrowded Passeig de Gràcia which seemed a world away here in the courtyard.
An elevator took me to the rooftop where the famous”chimneys” awaited. As well as the many other tourists photographing the chimneys and the cityscape. I wondered what it would been like if all of those people had sketchbooks instead of smart phones. It was hard not to walk around the roof without getting in the way of someone’s photograph and I found it a little challenging to sketch because of people standing in front of your own viewpoint. It was not really a calm crowd that I think this roof engenders. I could just imagine that the only sound would be the traffic below and the movement of pencil on paper above, now that’s my idea of peaceful!
These are called the guardians and some have suggested that they may have influenced George Lucas on some of the designs in Star Wars. Stormtroopers do bear a resemblance.
I got two chimney sketches off and then headed down into the attic where Gaudí’s other work was highlighted. Then down another story to a floor that contained four apartments, one of which was on display. And then further down a few flights of stairs spits you out into the gift shop and then into the thriving throng of Passeig de Gràcia.
With a backwards glance at Gaudi’s amazing work I headed down Passeig de Gràcia to explore more of the Catalan Capital.