Thursday, 13 March 2014

Catalan Modernista Style

If you're ever in Barcelona, you should go to Palau de la Musica Catalana. It's magnificent and nothing like I've ever seen. It's a music concert hall that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.It's amazingly and utterly beautiful. The architect who designed this place was Lluís Domènech i Montaner who designed this place in a 'Catalan modernista' style. Catalunya is a sort of area in Spain, they have their own language; Catalan and Barcelona is their capital city.

The only way you can see the architecture is to go on a guided tour. The tickets were about eighteen Euros for standard and about eleven Euros for a concession or student ticket. (You're able to use a International Student Identification Card here.) The guided tour was compromised of one guide and about twenty plus people. She was really informative about the origins, the cultural influences, the history of the building and the architect. The tours come with the option of mainly European languages like English, French, Castilian and Russian, the English tours are about every hour or so. First, we gathered in the practice hall to talk about what was to come and some basics about the place. Every wall, window, ceiling and flooring were interesting. In the first room, which was a waiting hall or a place to gather before entering the actual music hall, it was brightly lit up with natural lighting streaming through glass stained windows. There were chandeliers hanging and several art pieces up on the walls.

 The main concert hall is so extravagant. It's big and airy and just so spectacular. I was just in awe when we stepped in to the hall. There's a huge glass stained window on the ceiling with innumerable pieces of glass, a big stage with colorful mosaics and sculptures of women playing musical instruments, more glass stained windows, natural motifs on the ceilings and just so many sculptures on the walls and decorative tiling. It's so amazing, and to think that all of this is possible. It's like looking at something out of this world.

The information the guide told us is slightly vague because it happened about two months ago (God, time flies.). However there were some interesting facts about the place that stuck with me. Things such as the sculpted women playing musical instruments, the reason that they are created in this way; bottom half made of tiled mosaics and the top half made of sculpture that protrudes out, is so that it indicates the music and the players to come alive. The sculpted women are also different in appearance, their attire and facial features were all different to one another to symbolize the diverse cultural influences on the music played at The Palau. The guide said that it represents that all types of music and culture are accepted in the concert hall.

 There are a lot of motifs derived from nature, this is because during the time of its construction, Spain was going through a revolution or industrialization of some sort and many architects and artists wanted to keep Mother Nature and remind people of the beauty and brilliance of nature. This is all vague information that my mind has kept, I'm not sure how much of this is true.

Ah, I also remembered something else. Here's a fun fact: you see those transparent cylindrical poles that runs along the balcony? Only half of it is made out of glass, the other is made out of plastic. The reason why that is, is because Spain had no money after the civil war to continue making the poles out of glass.

Our tour group was also so, so lucky. We were able to tour the main music hall while a opera singer was practicing and videotaping. He voice was amazing. Couldn't understand a word of it, but it was so surreal. It was all very minimal, no microphone, no artificial lights, no one else but her and the pianist. We were so lucky to be able to witness something that is so rare. Her voice just surrounded the room.

The exterior architecture and design is so different from the inside, although you can see similar aspects like the colours. It's so amazing.If you look closely, you'll see sculptures of iconic musicians like Beethoven and Mozart.