Designed to include not impress.
The Sagrada Familia is technically a religious institution and the Palau de la Música Catalan a concert hall. Where they overlap is in both inviting spiritual contemplation. For people who worship light these are the two most important cathedrals in Barcelona, if not Europe.
Another commonality is their democratic symbolism and legacy. Both were constructed from private funds raised by Catalan citizens, not just one or two wealthy patrons or a governmental endowment. This pride shows through in their architecture and design. Both buildings are intentionally designed to be inclusive: to make people from all philosophies and groups feel connected and valued.
There is much to be said about it’s Art Nouveau style and inherently Catalonian techniques, but I am not familiar enough with them to write about it. So I’ll let someone else share those details.
The two things that left a strong impression:
- The stage is decorated with 18 muses of music. In keeping with the inclusive messaging, these muses say that music can be found in every human society. Their dress, hairstyles and the instruments they hold widely represent many classes, ethnicities and backgrounds. From the waist up, they are sculptures from the waist down, tile mosaics called trencadis. For example, there is a traditional Greek figure holding a lyre, one wearing Celtic dress holds a bagpipe and is adorned with many necklaces, another medieval one holds a drum traditionally used by the military.
- The building is low, about 4 stories high, about the same height as those surrounding it.Right across the street, only a few feet away is a typical Barcelona apartment building. And yet, from the second and third levels of the concert hall the illumination feels as if its the only building for miles. New York apartment buildings could certainly take a clue from this architect.
The 18 Euro charge for a daytime tour is well worth the cost. The guides are deeply knowledgable, if a bit rushed as the tours are in my opinion too close together, and passionate about the Palau.
Be sure to go during daylight hours.
This YouTube tour of the Palau done by Ian Bateman is the best 4 minute overview you can get without being there: