For me, London works like this: I see something for the first time and I hate it. I see it again and think to myself - well, it's not that bad. Third time is a charm and I fall deeply in love.
It took some time before I fell in love with Barbican. I first saw it on a sunny Saturday morning and wasn't at all impressed by the Brutalist architecture. Being raised up in post-communist Bulgaria makes massive concrete buildings a little less exciting, I guess. Besides - gloomy London is grey enough.
Barbican Centre is, for starters, a lot of concrete in one place. Cold, monochromatic and out of place - at least that's what my first impression of it was. I surely needed time to find the beauty of it.
Somehow I didn't feel like Europe's largest performing arts centre should look like this. It took me some time to get used to it and start to see that it actually has character. It is distinctive. And yes, it is out of place in the middle of London, but in a good way. Not such a bad place after the second visit, that's for sure.
With multiple performing arts venues, galleries and theatres side by side, the Barbican is the essence of the "big idea" architecture. That's what makes it magnificent. It pulls you in like a labyrinth and you become an explorer, discovering what's down this hallway, what's up these stairs, what's around the corner or hiding behind that column. I only visited one exhibition (robot snakes are a little less terrifying than real ones - although I don't want to meet either anytime soon) and couldn't get lost inside - but I'm sure that finding your way through numerous galleries and halls would be even
Barbican's a good place for art. And theatre. And films. And music. And lectures. But let me tell you what it's really great for: lunch. I fell in love with Barbican... at lunchtime.
It only took a nice lunch from the nearby food market to make me realise that, after all, Barbican is actually nice. It's not at all cold if you eat a warm buckwheat crepe there. It's not monochromatic if you walk around the place in your multi-coloured kicks. It is definitely out of place, but - after all, I am too.