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Stunning Sand Sculptures in Barcelona

The Sands of Time

Today, I arrived in Barcelona. It’s not my first time but it has been a long time.

Today, the salty fresh summer spills across the sand and onto the crowded boardwalks. Bright cotton dresses and shirtless denim shorts skate, stroll and cycle along the coast, while the sparkle of street-cafe glasses glitter like fireworks in the day.

It seems a far cry from my last time, when icy winds stormed along Las Ramblas and the chill of winter settled over Passeig de Gracia.

It seems even further from my first time. Back then, the landmark Sagrada Familia was covered in scaffolding. I was still a student and my brothers were children not yet in High School.

This weekend, I’m meeting the eldest one in Barcelona to celebrate his graduation.

From university.

How things change.

Sand sculpture in Barcelona004

Along the seafront, two women ignore the crowds. They flick their hair behind their ears and focus on two things: a limp piece of paper in one hand, a metal trowel in the other. They’re sculpting sand for a special – and temporary – exhibition.

The sand musicians that surround them look stable. Real. Permanent. Yet like everything else, of course, they will change and the next time I return to Barcelona both they and I will be different again.

There’s only one real constant in this city – and that’s the Sagrada Familia.

Beautiful, gothic, imaginative and haunting. It remains each one of those things.

It also, I notice, remains covered in scaffolding.

Sand sculpture in Barcelona005

Disclosure: I’m in Barcelona today as a guest of Costa Brava

For more on the Sagrada Familia, do check out the post by talented photographer Sherry Ott over here.

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17 Responses to Stunning Sand Sculptures in Barcelona

  1. Johanna Bradley May 28, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    Amazing what some people can do with a trowel! At Pera in the Algarve there’s a summer long sand sculpture exhibit called FIESA. It’s quite a large site, and very atmospheric on an evening when it’s floodlit, with moody music. It’s torn down each October and totally redesigned and themed for the following May. I’ve been a couple of times and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    • Abi June 8, 2012 at 11:28 am #

      Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll probably be in teh Algarve at some point this summer and would love to look this up. Cheers!

  2. A Montrealer Abroad May 28, 2012 at 10:15 pm #

    Such an amazing level of details! Great shots, Abi.

    • Abi June 8, 2012 at 11:31 am #


  3. Major Harold Durie Finch May 28, 2012 at 11:44 pm #

    The first time I was in Barcelona, Franco was still alive and Montjuich was a rubbish tip. The paseo de colon was the meeting place for young hippies. Now Las Ramblas is called La Rambla!
    Aiee \Aiee Say hi to Jack! Wish I was with you!
    Hal |Finch.

    • Abi June 8, 2012 at 11:32 am #

      Haha! Plenty of changes then! Will do…

  4. Darlene Foster May 29, 2012 at 4:17 am #

    I love Barcelona and especially Sagrada Familia. Visited 3 years ago and hope to go again soon. I featured Barcelona in my second book, Amanda in Spain. The sand sculptures are amazing.

    • Abi June 8, 2012 at 11:34 am #

      I couldn’t get tickets to inside the Sagrada Familia this time. Plenty of people say it’s changed a lot on the inside (but the outside looks pretty much the same!)

  5. Heather Stearns May 29, 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    These sculptures are just stunning! I grew up in New Smyrna Beach, FL and there have been occasional sand-sculpting competitions in the area. However, I haven’t seen any this ornate and most of the submissions were of sea creatures. Thank you for sharing!

    • Abi June 8, 2012 at 10:29 am #

      I bet even the sea creature sculptures would knock the socks off my bucket and spade efforts…

  6. Annette | Bucket List Journey May 30, 2012 at 1:11 am #

    I am amazed by the patience it must take to create these sand sculptures. Stunning!

    • Abi June 8, 2012 at 10:15 am #

      Especially beneath this relentless sun. Stunning, as you say!

  7. Jim @NeverStopTraveling May 30, 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    I love those sand sculptures — they are truly works of art. It’s interesting how the subjects of the sculptures differ so much from those in the USA. Most of the ones I’ve seen here look as if they were taken right out of Disneyland.

  8. Abi June 8, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    I saw some ice sculptures that looked like that in Japan! Most of the ice sculptures were traditional or provocative and then I turned the corner to see a giant iced Donald Duck rising out of the snow! Very surreal…

  9. Mark S June 22, 2012 at 10:17 pm #

    We were in Barcelona for one day while on a cruise and found the place wonderful, I especially found many of the buildings Gaudy designed very interesting. This is one reason I like to take a cruise once in a while so I can explore places that I think I may want to visit for an entire vacation and am glad I visited Barcelona. Now I only need to find the time to go back for a couple weeks. I would love to have seen the sand sculptures, I have seen quite a large sand sculpture competition for college students near Sarasota Florida a few years ago and couldn’t believe there were so many talented artists who were willing to perform magic in the sand knowing it would only last a few days at best.

    • Abi June 24, 2012 at 2:02 am #

      It’s a little bit like street art in that regard…such talented artists painting a wall that anyone can come along and paint over in a matter of hours. Such a shame it doesn’t last – but I’m so glad that people do it at all!

  10. thesalonnieresapartments November 4, 2013 at 5:28 am #

    When I was in Barcelona, I always felt like the city was one giant sand sculpture. It was summer and hot and dusty and those beautiful buildings, especially the Gaudi ones, looked like they were melting sand castles. I wasn’t sure if I was in love with Barcelona the way I was with some other cities at first sight but since I’ve left, I’ve found that the place has a knack of staying under my skin ever since! I’d really like to go back there and explore this place some more again!