Old door, Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes), Avignon, France.
The Palais des Papes is the largest Gothic palace in the world. There are 15,000 square meters of living space, which is the equivalent of 4 Gothic cathedrals. Its construction began in AD 1252 and it became the residence of the Popes in 1309. The huge structure is actually two palaces joined together, each built for a different pope. The palace was seized and sacked by revolutionary forces during the French Revolution in 1789 so most rooms are totally empty, but some beautiful frescos were preserved.
The Courtyard (the old door can be seen on the far right).
The Palais de Papes external view. Detail of the main entrance and towers.
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Wanderlust: a strong desire to travel. I’ve always liked traveling and discovering new places and people. Then, I married a man who likes to travel so much that as soon as we get back from a trip, he starts talking about and planning the next one! Our most recent trip included four cities in three countries: Italy, Spain and France. I’m still sorting the 2000+ photos I took during the three-week trip and in ten days we’ll be off again, but I won’t go into that now. Here are highlights of our recent trip.
The doors of the Sagrada Familia, in Barcelona, are something to admire in wonder. I posted about the basilica earlier this week but left the door photos for Norm’s Thursday doors.
- The main door of the Nativity entrance to the basilica is seven meters high and three meters wide. It is made of bronze and decorated with a large number of motifs from nature, such as leaves, plants, various flowers and all kinds of insects. It is predominately green, with some yellow flowers on its lower part and a band of red leaves on its upper part. I wish I wasn’t rushing so much when I took the photos, but we got tickets for the last hour of the day and, as it happened the first time we were at Sagrada Familia, it was raining! So we rushed inside.
- A lateral door, also on the side of the Nativity entrance, very ornate with flowers, leaves, insects, bird nests, and other small creatures, but in blue and pink colors. The forth photo shows a detail of this door. See if you can spot something.
- There are other doors to the Basilica,such as the “Prayer Door, on the Passion entrance. We didn’t come in through that side this time around, so I didn’t have time to photograph them. But they are beautiful. Here are a couple of not very revealing photos from my 2012 visit. Also, in bronze, the Prayer door has the prayer “Give us this day our daily bread” inscribed in 50 languages. Some words are highlighted with gold, including Jesus, which can be seen in the photos.
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We were in Barcelona on late March and, as most people who visit that city, we went to Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. Going to Barcelona and not seeing La Sagrada Familia is like going to Paris and not seeing the Notre Dame or to Cordoba and skipping the Great Mosque. Whether you are religious or not, Gaudí’s basilica, his magnum opus, is an absolute must see. It’s an architectural wonder, a feast to the eyes and the senses. After finishing the Parc Guell in 1911, Gaudí decided to abandon secular art and devote himself entirely to the Sagrada Familia. He worked on it for over 40 years, living as a virtual hermit in a workshop on the site. When questioned about the slow pace, he is said to have replied, “My client is not in a hurry.” Gaudí’s work on the building is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the basilica, although still work in progress, is the most visited site in Barcelona (some 3 million people a year). But Sagrada Familia doesn’t appeal to everybody and it’s possibly the most controversial place of worship ever built on such an epic scale. George Orwell said it was “one of the most hideous buildings in the world” and rather hoped it would be destroyed during the Spanish Civil War (fortunately, it wasn’t). Salvador Dalí spoke of its “terrifying and edible beauty.” Well, I’ve visited Sagrada Familia twice, and both times I thought it was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen. The first time, in 2012, I didn’t quite know what to expect and had only seen a few pictures of in travel guides. As I walked in, I gasped, and was immediately overtaken with emotion, tears running down my face. Very unusual for a non-religious person like me… I was moved by the monumental organic beauty of the magnificent structure. This time, I knew what to expect but still got quite emotional and teary-eyed. I hope to go back in 2026, when it’s supposed to be finished, to see it in all its intended splendor. I’ll probably cry again. By the way, 2026 also marks the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.