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  • Hannah Fielding - Romance Novelist

In my latest novel, Legacy, the love story begins when the hero and heroine cross paths in Barcelona. I very much enjoyed setting the scene in this colourful, lively city, especially because it is chock-full of works by one of my favourite architects, Antoni Gaudí.

Gaudí was a Spanish architect who lived from 1852 to 1926, and his distinctive Modernist style in architecture has been hugely influential for so many people. Here are six things that I find fascinating and inspiring about Gaudí and his work:

1. His greatest passion, besides architecture and religion (see below), was nature – mountains and caves especially. Many of his works are imbued with this love and admiration of nature, none more so than his magnum opus, the Sagrada Familia; see how the roof above the nave, shown here, looks like overarching tree branches.

Sagrada_Familia

2. He envisioned and planned every single tiny detail of his many big works, not on paper, but through creating intricate scale models.

3. He was absolutely dedicated to his Catholic faith, and his works are so beautiful and reverent that some have named him ‘God’s architect’ and called from him to be sainted by the Pope.

4. He was a serious man, and yet not without a playful side. His buildings are often quirky, colourful and eye-catching. Here’s one of the most iconic Gaudí symbols, the salamander sculpture in Park Güell.

Parc_Guell

5. He fused all sorts of crafts into his architecture, from ceramics to stained glass. The Casa Batlló is a wonderful example; Gaudí pioneered the mosaic work on the exterior, made from broken ceramic tiles, which is called trencadís.

Casa batllo

[Sources: Alscardoso, Mstyslav Chernov, Massimo Catarinella]

6. He was not afraid to dream big. His vision for the Sagrada Familia, a huge church in Barcelona, was so vast that builders are still constructing the church based on his plans. The finish date, it is hoped, will be the one-hundred-year anniversary of Gaudí’s death.

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Readers of my Andalucían Nights series will spot an important homage to Gaudí’s style. In Legacy, my heroine Luna comes to live in Cadiz in a house that was inspired by a major Andalucían avant-garde architect and Surrealist artist, Eduardo Rafael Ruiz de Salazar. The house, which is right on the beach, is called La Gaviota, meaning The Seagull, and it is designed to look like a bird:

It was a small, two-storey, unusual-looking building with whitewashed walls, interspersed with floor-to-ceiling sliding windows, a domed roof and three terraces. The one at ground level led down to the beach, while the two on the upper floor jutted out on the north-east and south-east sides of the house, like wings of a giant bird about to take flight.

Over the years, La Gaviota has been a haven for artists and writers, who find inspiration in the arresting architecture and the beautiful sea views. Luna, too, finds this home to be a haven, a place where she can free her mind and explore her past and future – a place where her dreams can take flight.

When I envision La Gaviota, there is a good deal of Gaudí in the design. Especially, my mind takes me back to a hot summer’s afternoon when I visited Park Güell on Carmel Hill in Barcelona, which is all Gaudí’s design. The colours, the lines, the creativity, the boldness, the beauty – it is all so wonderfully evocative; like something out of a romance novel, n’est-ce pas?

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For me, Gaudí’s work is the perfect exemplification of Goethe’s wisdom:

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it;

Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

  • TREKnRay

    Thank you for sharing this information about Gaudi architecture. Barcelona is my favorite city in the entire world. Whenever I was there I felt like the city was a living being much like Science Fiction’s sentient planets. The only other city that comes close is Dublin.

    Gaudi’s influence is everywhere. The ship I was on the first time I visited Barcelona provided us with a tour of the churches of Barcelona. The Sagrada Familia is the one I remember the most on the tour.

    Other parts of the tour were the Monastery in Montserrat and the trip to and from. On the way up the mountain we passed a wheat field guarded by armed Guardia Civil. The field contained opium poppies. For lunch we stopped at a restaurant in the country for lunch. It was my first time in Europe. I had envisioned Spanish food as Mexican like. It was more like Italian on that day. There was a wedding at the Monastery that we were allowed to attend. Marriages are blessed if a wedding or renewal of vows is performed there according to tradition. On the way back to Barcelona one lane of the highway around a sharp curve collapsed, barely leaving room for the bus to maneuver. It was exciting to say the least.

    I even took a train from Tarragona to Barcelona to celebrate my birthday one year. A woman approached me to give me a flower. She then put her hand in my pocket. Nothing in it. Another unusual person I met on two trips was an American saying she was stranded and needed money for a ticket back home. The next time she came up to me again. I told her I had talked to her the year before. She seemed to get angry so I offered to buy her a sandwich. I wasn’t having a part of her scam, but I liked her.

    Your blog has made me homesick for Barcelona. Thank you.

    • hannahfielding

      Thank you for sharing your memories of Barcelona. I hope you can plan another trip there someday.

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