Dragons and Hesperide
“NOTHING IN the world has been invented, the act of inventing consists in seeing what God has placed before the eyes of all humanity.” Antoni Gaudi
Our first from the bus was to have a look at the gatehouse to Gaudi’s Finca Güell, where the dragon still stands guard against any who’d dare to enter. Ehem, we actually confused the garden with Parc Güell, but what a great mistake, as it meant that our first close encounter with Gaudi was one of his earlier works.
The whole dragon has a slightly humorous, found art feel to it, which is exactly how it was constructed. Gaudi made it up from standard industrial products which he welded (a first for the time) together. As the gate is opened the dragons leg move to expose its claws, well at least it used to. 🙂
The gardens behind the gate used to be full of citrus trees much like the gardens of Hesperides and Gaudi intended the gate to represent the dragon Ladon, the guardian of that mythical orchard. Hercules who dispatched the dragon in the course of stealing one of the fruit is, not so coincidentally, also the mythical founder of Barcelona. As a final (literal) crowning touch the gate post capstone is topped by a tree of golden apples, sculpted in antimony.But we’re not quite finished, walking back along Avinguda de Pedralbes you can easily miss the other dragon gate… this time not quite so big. You might say that the devil, or genius, is always in Gaudi’s detail.
All of this was a great introduction to Gaudi’s interest in mythology, religion, orientalism, and moorish architecture mixed with a wild sensuality. The exuberant over the top, almost paganistic, feel of all this does seem a little at odds with a man who in his personal life was so intensely religious and austere.