There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature. Therefore, buildings must have no straight lines or sharp corners.
– Antonio Gaudi
A few weeks ago we received visitors, which gave us the opportunity to do something touristic. For those of you that live in a big city, do you not sometimes have a feeling that the tourists have seen more historical sites than you have? On this particularly overcast and freezing day, we were able to visit La Sagrada Familia while following a guided tour (in French!).
La Sagrada Familia is a Roman Catholic Basilica in Barcelona, which is still being built. It is impressively tall, so due to the fact that Barcelona is not a city of skyscrapers, depending where you are standing you can see it peering at you through the buildings, always with a few cranes looming overhead.
The construction of La Sagrada Familia began in 1882. The architect Antonio Gaudi was appointed as the chief architect the following year in 1883. He lived there while he was working on the designs, until his unexpected death in 1926, being hit by a tram on his way to his daily prayers.
The building was interrumpted during the Spanish civil war and has suffered a couple of fires. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. It is scheduled to be finished by 2026, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of Gaudi, though nobody really knows when it will finalize. At the same time I think many of the natives can’t imagine La Sagrada Familia without all the cranes over it. I’m going to be a bit of a party pooper now and say that I think the whole project has turned into a horribly grotesque tourist attraction.
The Basilica follows the typical Gaudi style, heavily inspired by the designs of nature, full of leaves, branches and animals. At the same time he wanted it to have some Gothic influences, which I will not go into because I’m no expert. It is also replete with symbolism nearly anywhere you look.
There are completely different façades to the building. One side (looking North) is the obvious Gaudi style one which represents the Nativity. It’s the happier side as it expresses life’s profusion, full of beautiful natural influenced ornaments and statues.
The inside is equally impressive with tall pillars that are like branches of trees. Beautiful stained glass are used in the windows, which are to give a beautiful luminous effect, though unfortunately we couldn’t experience the effect on that grey day.
The opposite façade (looking South) represents Passion (from Latin “patior, pati, passus”, to suffer). This was designed by various architects and dramatically contrasts with the Nativity façade as it is – in line with Gaudi’s vision for this façade – quite bare and macabre, expressing death’s grimness.
There will be another spectacular façade (looking East) leading to the central nave. Its construction has begun but is nowhere near complete and will represent Glory, showing Death and Judgement Day.
Have to visited La Sagrada Familia? I would love to hear about your take on it.
Thank you for reading!