Old City of Steel – Toledo, Madrid, Spain Trip #8

March 10, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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The high-speed train RENFE is the best way to travel from Madrid to Toledo – about 30 minutes and costs 10.60 euros.

Reached Toledo station close to 10 am….Had to take a shuttle bus to the
old city..

The former capital of Spain, Toledo is a fortress city with striking gates all around the city.

Primate Cathedral of Saint Mary of Toledo. Admission is 6 €. We didn’t
go in though as we thought we had spent enough time looking at one of the
most beautiful cathedrals in Spain when we visited Sagrada Familia

Some renovation work was going on..

Puerta de los Leones (Portal of the Lions), so named because of the lions
that surmount the columns of the gate that encloses the small entranceway

Two elderly ladies negotiating the labyrinth in old Toledo. Most of these
are so narrow that cars are not allowed, which makes walking around
quite pleasant, except that they are rather steep and hilly 

Living closely together…

See anything interesting here?

Besides the cross on the roof top, there was a stone statue of Christ on the 
facade of this house

The sign said, “For safety reason”….

Besides the many old buildings, we noticed the abundance of metal products available in shops and on the streets. The metal-working industry has historically been Toledo’s economic base, with a great tradition in the manufacture of swords and knives since about 500 BC.

Brave knights stood guard at the balcony, ready to fight! 

I think I need to put on some armour too…wow…this one is for ladies! So 
embarrassing! 😀 Haha…

Time to hang up your pans! Bring out the swords! 

I also noticed many interesting designs of door knobs…

Dunu what’s with the masking tape mark…

Dragon door knob!

Another dragon door knob!

This horse-shaped one kinda reflects the way of life in older days where
knights and swords were common

Tisu Girl doing what she is best at…being an itchy finger! 😀 Knock! Knock!
Anybody home?  😀

The door knob wasn’t very special…but notice there was a small door on
the bigger one? If you are a Pixar Animation fan, you would remember the
scene where Mike Wazowski opened a small door within a bigger door while 
which Sulley came out later. The smaller door here was meant for human,
not just short ones…hahah…and the bigger door was meant for human
riding on horses… :p

I have no idea why didn’t we take a photo of the exterior of  this church…and I forgot what drew us in…But I remembered there was a little poster at the entrance about the panoramic view of the city, so we went in for a look. Only cos 2.3 € per person.

The interior of Iglesia de los Jesuitas

There were many beautiful sculptures in the church…

Itchyfingers do not fully understand this one…Why was this man holding a

Just underneath were some bones in the glass cabinet…Not to sure if these
in the middle were skulls, cos they were adorned with decorative motifs…
We were the only ones at this corner so it felt a bit eerie…

After walking through the main hall of the church, Itchyfingers proceeded upstairs. The bare walls were such a far cry from the elaborate hall downstairs…

After climbing the concrete stairs, soon we saw these tall and long metal

Climbing up…

Looking down…Can be quite scary if you are afraid of height….

Set in the highest location in the city, Iglesia de los Jesuitas offers great views of Toledo and the surrounding region from its twin spires.

The reward – panoramic view of the city! The tallest building in the centre
is Hospital of  Tavera

Can see the cathedral here…

The Alcázar, a Spanish palace or fortress of Moorish origin, at the far distance

The view was so clear you could see people fixing the roof…

Itchyfingers stayed for a while before more tourists came up. It was getting a bit chilly too. Time for lunch too!

We were looking around for some affordable food and happened to peek into one eatery. Then the lady inside came out and invited as to have a look.

We had thought there would be seats inside or upstairs but this shop happened
to serve pre-cooked food for take-away. Somehow we were a bit shy to
leave and also the price was quite affordable, so we decided to try it out…
Waited a while for the lady to microwave our order… 

I think we made a bad choice…First the food were not very nice. Second, the
portions were too big for the two
 of us, especially the meatballs, which only
Tisu Boy was eating. We had pasta, mushrooms and
 fish too. Third, the plastic 
packs were a bit wasteful, and lastly, our outdoor alfresco lunch and ourselves 
got cold very soon as the chilly wind was constantly blowing! :p

Nice pods on the tree…

One more round of walking around the city brought us here.

The Cambron Gate is one of the oldest gates into town

Saw some of these beautiful porcelain plates on display outside a shop that
was closed… 

The best thing for the day trip to Toledo was – my small bag of chocolates!
Very nice and beautifully packed, but the price was not so friendly on the pocket! :p
Should have taken a picture of the shop inside!  

Also see related posts:
Aeroplane Building – Bilbao, Spain Trip #7
House of Bones – Barcelona, Spain Trip #6
The Quarry – Barcelona, Spain Trip #5
A Visit to the Market – Barcelona, Spain Trip #4
A Bird’s Eye View – Barcelona, Spain Trip #3 
Inside the Construction Site- Barcelona, Spain Trip #2 
The World’s Most Beautiful Construction Site – Barcelona, Spain Trip #1 


A Bird’s Eye View – Barcelona, Spain Trip #3

September 30, 2011 at 1:05 am | Posted in itchy backside | 2 Comments
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After spending much time admiring the interior of Sagrada Família, Itchyfingers joined the other people at the queue to take the lift up the tower.

We went to the queue here but were led to the one at the Nativity façade.
 there were two lifts

Took a photo of our ticket in case the staff retained it or marked on it…
which he did tear…Visitors used to be able to go up the towers freely via
the staircase but this is no longer allowed, supposedly for safety reason

Actually Itchyfingers made a mistake. We should have joined the queue immediately after we entered the church, or at least do so after taking a quick look at the interior. Why? Firstly, lesser people in the queue would mean shorter waiting time. Secondly, it may also mean that we could spend more time up at the tower since we would not need to rush out to make way for others. Should have read the guidebooks for some tips…hahah…But I guess we were just too captivated by the interior and the great photographic opportunities…I mean, there aren’t that many places that you can claim to be able to have beautiful photos just with any casual snapshots! “乱乱拍都很美!” :p  Hahaha….

Our queue formed all the way behind this beautiful rosary door…This was
finished in 1899


The carvings on the door…So beautiful…


Admiring these artworks made the waiting less boring…

Actually the queue moved quite fast. About 10 or 15 minutes later, we were
already moving to the front…That’s the lift we would be taking…oooo…
so modern…was expecting something older…hahah 

The lift could take up to six people plus the operator. We were told that we would be going up to 55 metre here at the Nativity façade. Found out later that the lift at the Passion façade could bring you up to 65 metre…

The bridge between the two towers. Here we had our first bird’s eye view
around the church…

Can you see the shadow cast by Sagrada Família? Cute huh… :p

Could see this large cucumber-shaped building! Hahah…Some people said
it looked like maize, some said looked like bullet…hahah…

Both were man-made, but it was beauty versus the beast in this case…

At the top of the Tree of Life was a red Tau cross with an ‘X’ representing
Christ’s name and a dove representing the Holy Spirit

But it still looked like Christmas Tree to me…hahah

As I said, we couldn’t stay too long as there were other people behind us and more coming up from the lift. So we could only stay at one point for a short while. There were two windows where we could go out to the balconies to take photos.

Whose foot was this dangling in the air…So dangerous! Hahah…

Heee…these people looked so tiny….

The stairs we walked down were so narrow…If you were any fatter and
you would have some problem turning around… 

Some areas were also quite dark…

Graffiti on the wall of the tower! These people should really slap themselves
for being so disrespectful of a religious building and a work of art! How
did they get the time to do the scribbling and get away with it when there were

people behind them all the time??

The ugly scaffolding

Looked like a big tunnel…

We walked around the stairs…

Could see the church’s interior its trunk-like pillars

The spires

Soon, we found ourselves reaching this flight of staircase, which looked like it would bring us all the way down….

Does this remind you of the nautilus shell? Actually a bit scary to walk cos
it was so dark and narrow here. Only the right hand side had a railing fixed to
the wall while the left hand side sloped downwards. Gotta walk slowly to 
prevent falling or missing a step! But with people behind, you just couldn’t 
afford to take your very own sweet time…hahah. People with tendencies of 
vertigo spells should try to avoid this…

It’s kinda strange if safety was the reason for not letting people climb up the stairs but walking down was allowed. But I guess it was just a way to collect some fees for the church construction cost, which was a justifiable reason.

Finally out! When I walked down, I kept looking down the spiral to see 
how much more to go…hahah…Should have counted the number of steps!
This iron gate felt so heavy! :p Was glad to be out in the light! 😀

Itchyfingers were preparing to leave when we realised that we nearly missed the museum in the crypt! Not sure if the signs were not prominent enough or we were just too distracted. Luckily we saw people walking in, or else we would really have missed it! But I think if you were one of those with audio guides, you would probably be led to look for the museum.

The museum showed the history and progress of the building of Sagrada Família,
with many models exhibited

A lot of thoughts and details went into the model making stage as it would
be too costly to experiment on the actual building itself 

The hanging model was a highly innovative method designed by Gaudí between
1889 and 1908. “With the model inverted, a very lightweight masonry brick
structure was developed. 
The hanging model is based on the theory of the

‘reversion of the catenary.’ A chain suspended from two points will hang
spontaneously in the shape of a so-called ‘catenary’. Only tension forces can
exist in the chain. The form of the catenary upside down gives a perfect shape
for an arch of stone masonry, and in such an arch only reversed forces of tension,
being compression, will occur.”

An original sketch from Gaudí, with his signature on the bottom right.
There were a few other sketches but the light was a bit too dim to see
them clearly, let alone taking a good picture 

An old photo of the church’s work-in-progress

Photographic blow up of a pencil drawing on tracing paper by another
architect, Lluis Bonet i Gari

Workshop for model making

Study of an apostle with the effigy of Gaudí by Josep Maria Subirachs, the
Catalan sculptor and painter who did the works on the Passion Facade 

Oh, I found out that this is called, “Facade of the Passion Pleasure:
The flagellation of Jesus at the pillar”

The soldiers

Sketch of the Passion Facade

Gaudí, by Josep Maria Subirachs

Photo showing the tomb of Gaudí in the Carme Chapel in the crypt of 
Sagrada Família

Photo of Gaudí’s tomb. Found out that the price of admission includes 
entrance to the crypt

Antoni Gaudí (25 June 1852 – 10 June 1926)

Itchyfingers strongly recommend paying Sagrada Família a visit if you are in Barcelona. You would be amazed by the genius of Gaudí and the beauty of the church!

Also see related posts:
> Inside the Construction Site – Barcelona, Spain Trip #2
> The World’s Most Beautiful Construction Site – Barcelona, Spain Trip #1 

Inside the Construction Site – Barcelona, Spain Trip #2

September 25, 2011 at 11:59 pm | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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Itchyfingers entered the Sagrada Família via the entrance at the Passion façade on our third visit to the grand Catholic Church. First things I noticed were these line works on the floor…but few seemed to be interested at it and most just walked past…

Couldn’t find any description to this or any information online…

Under different lighting condition, the door would present itself as even more
three-dimensional. These are words from the bible in different languages

At the far left of the entrance portal was this floor plan of the church….
No one was interested in
 it also…

You would soon understand why most people were just so eager to see the interior of the church…

I think if you were to take photos of the visitors gawking at the church, chances are you would have be capturing images of people with neck long-stretched, eyes fixed to the top and their jaws wide open…and that would have included Itchyfingers… hahah… :p

Once you stepped inside, your eyes would be automatically drawn to follow
these unusual pillars to the beautiful ceiling.. 

I thought the ceiling looked like blooming sunflowers….On the pillars
were the horoscope signs…

This should be the Capricorn?

The high ceiling made the already spacious interior looked even bigger and grander. Then our attention turned to the right…

The figure of Jesus Christ was hung under an umbrella shaped canopy which 
made them looked like they were descending from above…According to the
explanatory sign,“Gaudi placed the high altar with the cross and the image
of the crucified Jesus at the central point, which was the part with the most light.”

The skylight “represents God the creator”

A closer look at Christ

There were benches for visitors to spend some quiet time in prayer. Although
there were a lot of visitors inside, everyone was respectful and spoke
softly…Dun remember seeing any kids around but I am sure they would also
behave themselves in a religious building

The columns of the interior are a unique Gaudi design in that many of these
pillars are “double twisted.” This means that the column can begin at the base
with a regular or starred polygon with straight sides. As the column rises, it
transforms into different sections with an increasing number of vertices, until
it reaches the top. “Geometrically it is the intersection of two helicoidal columns
with the same base, but with opposite twists. All the branching columns are
double twisted, but with different polygons at the base. With this type of column
Gaudí achieved the continuity of arrises and surfaces between one column and
the ones above or beneath it.”


There were many beautiful stained glass windows…Not sure who this figure
was…some patron saint?

Then we were distracted by more beautiful stained glass on our left….

My goodness! The stained glass on the windows were already very nice by,
themselves, but the designer had also introduced these intermittent lighting
effects…Felt like we were in heaven looking
 at celestial lights…hahahah

Believe me, the effect was not cheesy at all, as the lighting effect changed very
slowly and subtly…gradually to different hues of colours…in fact I felt it
complemented the colours of
the stained glass quite nicely… 

So beautiful…The windows, the vaults and the skylights were all conceived
by Gaudí “to allow the light to penetrate and create an atmosphere of
seclusion and prayer.”

More…Actually these stained glass windows have some symbolical meaning
behind, which you may like to read from this site here 


Illuminated under different lighting gave it a different feel

This huge organ was added only in 2010

Then I saw many visitors looking down to the crypt…I asked the volunteer
and was told that Gaudí was buried here! She said it would be opened to public
for religious service at 6pm. I had wanted to stay back to take a look but
changed my mind later as we were getting tired and hungry… 

Actually the death of Gaudí was quite tragic, especially for a man of his talent. Gaudí was so devoted to his project at Sagrada Família that he lived an almost secluded life in the church itself in his last years. On 7 June 1926, Gaudí was knocked down by a tram while walking and passed out. Due to his neglected appearance, worn-out clothes and lack of identity documents, he was assumed to be a beggar and was left unattended for some time, until a policemen took him to the hospital. He was only recognised the next day but it was already too late. Gaudí died on 10 June 1926, at the age of 73, at the height of his career. 😦

Another view

Some people feel that the unfinished church should be left as it is to remain true to Gaudí’s original design. Construction of the church started in 1882, and when Gaudí took over the project in 1883, he transformed the original design radically with his architectural and engineering style, and was said to change and alter his design during construction. When Gaudí died, the church was only between 15 to 25 percent complete. Unfortunately, parts of the unfinished building and Gaudí’s models were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War and a fire. People are now concern if the eventual completed work would bear little resemblance to Gaudí’s original vision as those entrusted with finishing off the church are putting their own stamp on it instead of faithfully following the original ideas; thus making it impossible to tell “where Gaudí’s work begins and ends”, I think especially so to the untrained eyes of most visitors. Hmmm…Actually when I first heard of this church, I was really surprised that it was still under construction after so many years, and always wondered when it would be finally done? Would the contrast be very glaring as the old section would look so run down compared to the newly built parts. Looking at it now I would prefer it to be left alone and all the unsightly cranes removed…who knows how much longer it would take to complete the project as construction relied heavily on public donation and admission fees.

Columns and spiral staircase

Take away all the colours, and it still looks interesting…

If you can spare the time, Itchyfingers highly recommend spending at least
half a day at the church. Take the time to sit down and admire the building’s
interior and facade, and see how the change in lighting condition during 
different time of the day affects the look…

Late afternoon light casting beautiful shadow through the windows

Also see related post:
> The Most Beautiful Construction Site – Barcelona, Spain Trip #1 

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