Saturday, 28 November 2009

The most beautiful buildings on Earth

I don't know much about architecture, but one of the highlights of most trips for me is seeing the grand buildings. In Spain we saw two of the most famous and fantastic buildings in the world, the Alhambra and as Lauren blogged below, Sagrada Familia. For me they're up there with the Taj Mahal and Sacre Coeur in Paris as the most beautiful buildings in the world.

Part of the Alhambra
Granada's Alhambra was the last and greatest flourishing of Islamic architecture in Spain. Unlike the Mezquita in Cordoba, it has not been partly spoilt by an obscenely gaudy church plonked into the middle of it. It's jaw-droppingly detailed, but being Islamic the decorations are geometric rather than images of animals and people, so it does not seem as over-the-top as the interiors of many European churches and palaces.

While the Alhambra has been around for more than half a millenium, the Sagrada Familia will not be finished for decades. But it is still one of the most stunning things I have ever seen. Normally a great building reminds you of others of the type you have seen, be it a Mughal palace, a Hindu temple or a Gothic cathedral. The Sagrada is like nothing I have ever seen before, and I can't say how much that impressed me.

Gaudi was inspired by nature, so the Sagrada is all about curves and organic forms. It looks like it has grown out of a coral reef, or leaf litter. There are snail and lizards for gargoyles, pillars like tree trunks, steepletops like flowers. Go and see it.

A stairwell in one of the Sagrada's towers.

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