A couple of days after Monjuïc, María Eugenia and Agustín took Benja and me to see some churches in the historic part of town. It was just so cool. The first one we entered was built either in the Early Middle Ages or before, which to me is just wow. I really don’t have words other than wow. Walking through it, I just couldn’t help but think that it looked like where Hamlet might have lived, never mind the fact Hamlet is Late Middle and a Dane. Also, this was a church, not a castle (ay, there’s the rub!). But what was so amazing about it was how simplistic it was. It wasn’t as mind-blowingly artsy as Sagrada Familia, and it wasn’t the Vatican. It just looked so old, and that’s the stuff that I love. Connecting with past cultures, etc., etc., etc. (before I make this too sappy!).
We saw two other churches: la Catedral de Barcelona and la Basílica de Santa María del Mar. Both were stunning, tall, gothic structures with attentive detail paid to every corner, particularly the cathedral. We went to mass in the cathedral, and actually sat just to the right of the founders of the church, who are buried there. Before the mass, we waited in the courtyard outside, where monks would walk around and meditate. Before that, we actually stood in the spot where Isabella and Ferdinand met Christopher Columbus after his return from America! Accompanied by seven Native American slaves . . . .
The basilica was beautiful, as well. It was tall, and had a large, circular gothic window in the back that was pretty cool to see. And as María Eugenia was telling me, it’s built for my saint! Mary! Woohoo!
We went through the Plaza de San Jaime on our way out, where, lo and behold, a massive crowd had gathered to watch none other than a demonstration of a casteller! And this one was terrifying because it went seven levels. There’s a large government building in the plaza which served as the backdrop to this spectacle, and seeing the little heads go higher, higher, and higher, until they were on par with the (very) elevated balcony, was a little too much to bear. That being said, however, I have faith in them! I’ll add a picture here so that you can see.
So that was our day touring Old Barcelona! I think we’ll be going back there some time, because the Pablo Picasso museum is there, and I would love to see that. I’d also love to tour the castle, where Ferdinand and Isabella were in that story I just mentioned.