Sunday, July 27, 2014

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

Today begins posts from our Spain trip back in May. This church is one of the last things we saw, but the most grand.

The Basilica de la Sagrada Familia is the most famous religious landmark in Barcelona. It is visible from many parts of the city and has been under construction for more than a century. The original 1882 plan was a simple, conventional Gothic church. A new architect was brought in, Antoni Gaudi, who let loose with his fervent and fabulous imagination. The church has a deliberately organic feel and look to it. Gaudi lived on site supervising the construction for the last 14 years of his life. He died in 1926. In 1936 many of his models and plans were destroyed in a fire started by partisans in the Spanish Civil War. Construction resumed in 1952 and has had a recent boost from increased attention (in part due to the Olympics) and increased revenue (thanks to charging admission to the church). The building is still under construction though the hope is to finish by 2026 for the hundredth anniversary of Gaudi's death. Work is progressing.

Our first sight of La Sagrada Familia

Under construction

The back of the church

The exterior has three main entrances--the Nativity facade, the Passion facade, and the Glory facade. The Glory facade is still being built but the other two are done. When we visited, tickets were sold by the Passion facade but entrance was through the Nativity facade.

Nativity facade

More of the facade--the Holy Family's life

The Holy Family

Passion facade--Way of the Cross and Crucifixion

More from Christ's Passion

We bought tickets when we arrived and had to wait an hour to get in. Pre-ordering online might have been a better option but we didn't know when exactly we'd get there. The wait wasn't too bad. On our way in, we picked up the audio guides, which were very informative but a little hard to follow from spot to spot. A map would have helped out.

J listens to the children's audio guide

The interior has plenty of light but the columns to support the church struck me as odd. Listening to the description I found out the obvious explanation. The columns look like tree trunks, splitting at the top and having a leaf-like canopy at the ceiling.


South aisle

The ceiling

The stairs to the towers also look organic, winding around in the corners of the church.

Spiral stairs

The main altar is a bit garishly lit by its baldachin but is otherwise the plainest thing in the basilica.

Main altar

Underneath the altar is the crypt, visible through small windows on the sides.

The crypt seen from upstairs

The crypt includes much more than the chapel we could see. After the obligatory visit to the toilet for the children, we found an extensive museum dedicated to the construction of the church. Several displays showed the interesting mathematical background to the design.

An explanation of some geometrical patterns used

The pattern of the church worked out upside-down with ropes and small weights

The crypt is where Gaudi had his workshop, the one that was burned during the Spanish Civil War. It is now a workshop again, with models approximating his design and model makers still working.


A model of the final appearance (1:25 scale)

Gaudi's tomb is also in the crypt though I did not find it. I did find a 1989 bust of Gaudi by Josep Maria Subirachs. He also sculpted the figures for the Passion facade.

Gaudi by Subirachs

I had mixed feelings about the church. My first impression was it was over the top with personal style, a style unique and off-putting. The more I learned about it, the more I appreciated it. I still haven't embraced the visual style. Perhaps on its completion my opinion might change or with more familiarity.

No comments:

Post a Comment