Thursday, 28 November 2013

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

I first heard of this Church under construction when I was in school some 47 years ago. I was fascinated that given the architect was dead and Spain had gone through a terrible Civil War and was a poor country in 1967 ruled by a dictator Francisco Franco, that this building could continue with donations to be built. Though until 1980 the construction was often halted due to lack of funds, this is no longer the case and completion date is announced as 2028. The entire financing of the construction of this church has always been through private donations from the public.

Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926) built many things in his life, Barcelona is littered with his buildings, apartment blocks, houses, gardens, housing developments, all fantastic and beautiful. So my fascination with his work is a long standing affair. To my mind his work is pure imagination and intelligence, it is about beauty, nature and God's Creation. Yes Gaudi in his work represents God's creation, themes of nature, flowers, plants, animals and natural shapes are everywhere. There is Park Guell, Palais Guell, Casa Batllo, Casa Milà, there are also other buildings less known and decorative elements built by Gaudi on commission from clients, like a fantastic gate to a great estate in the Sarria neighbourhood.

Until 4 years ago I had only ever seen old photos of La Sagrada Familia and other Gaudi buildings in Barcelona, seeing them in person is a totally different experience.

La Sagrada Familia was first started in a vacant area of Barcelona, a new area of the City in 1882 with two parks on either side of the building. Strangely the main front facade of the Church, the Glory facade (South) is across a street from apartment buildings. The facade we constantly see are the side entrances, one is the Nativity (East) and the other is the Passion (West). No matter how long you look at the building you constantly discover new things to look at, a detail you missed.

 The interior when we visited November 2013 almost complete, though much of the statues and stain glass windows still need to be completed and installed. Majestic nonetheless. Note the columns are like trees with limbs climbing to heaven.

This is a very interesting postcard as it shows in the middle view what the basilica will look like in 2028 when completed. The view on the left is the portal of the Nativity and the view on the right is the portal of the Passion still not complete.

A side view with the new stain glass windows installed in the last 2 years.

A view from the sky, The front of the Basilica when completed will not have the East or West park side space. The City grew and did not allow for a more expansive Southern view.

During the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 the church under construction was nearly destroyed by anarchists who set fire to it. Luckily the damage was contained. 

Today artists, sculptors, architects continue the work to complete the building, they take their inspiration from Gaudi's ideas and concepts, but they also leave their own imprint. So you can say that there is a amalgamation of Gaudi's principal idea and their style in the final realization. Per example the stain glass windows, the concept is Gaudi clearly but the final product is the artist who has been working on the windows for the last 20 years. The same with the numerous sculptures, the current artist is executing the work based on the idea of what Gaudi wanted to do, following his instructions but the final product is that of the artist, a disciple of the school of Gaudi. His wishes are fully respected so in the end this will be still his masterpiece.

Main High Altar, the stain glass is not yet installed. The canopy over the Altar is like a great umbrella

Ceiling is like a burst of sunlight with gold rays radiating.

Crypt below the main Altar not open to visitor and only open to worshippers after 5:30pm in the evening when the main church above is closed for the day. It was built one year before the construction of the top part started, before Gaudi took over the project. It is more traditional Gothic with an Arts and Crafts floor

The darker stone is the original building of 1882 the lighter stone is more recent with the white stone at the top being the most recent addition.  This is the Nativity side of the Church.

One of the four Evangelist medallions made like thick Murano glass, it is lighted from behind. They are fairly high above and surround the main Altar.

A magnificent basilica and well worth a visit, if for nothing else to admire the architecture of the place and its fanciful decorations.


  1. Lovely!
    This is how churches should be; majestic and feeling they are an alter to heaven,

  2. If you ever have a chance to go to Barcelona, do so if just to visit this basilica.