La Sagrada Familia must be seen to be believed. Photographs do it some justice (even my amateur snaps), but its essence is felt when standing in the thick of it all. From its intricate stonework (those detailed facades!), to its Gothic stained glass windows, to the high bell towers, to the vertigo-inducing spiral staircase, you’ll be filled with wonder… and in need of a sit down after being overly stimulated.
Gaudi’s grand vision is easy to spot from any high point in Barcelona. I saw it from the rooftop of Casa Mila, another one of his landmarks. La Sagrada Familia does not impose. Rather, it watches over Barcelona and is emblematic of the city’s beauty.
As exquisite as La Sagrada Familia seems to one person, there have been naysayers including renowned artists.
For Picasso, Gaudi’s famous church, the Sagrada Familia, was something of a joke – more to Salvador Dali’s taste, he once commented, than his. In the living room in La Californie there used to be an enormous panettone that mice had reduced to a ruin: ‘Gaudi’s model,’ he would say.*
George Orwell thought it to be one of the ugliest buildings he had ever seen and “wondered why the Anarchists hadn’t wrecked it in the Civil War”.**
The church “could be finished some time in the first third of the 21st century”, states La Sagrada Família website. The final result will be a variation of the artist’s vision. Though the aforementioned Anarchists had spared the building during the Civil War, in 1936 they had set fire to the crypt and destroyed the models, plans, drawings and photos in Gaudi’s former workshop. Construction continues based on those reconstructed plans. For some, there’s comfort in the thought that Gaudi watches over the building’s progress. In 1926, he was buried in the Carmen Chapel in the crypt of La Sagrada Família, where his remains still lie today.
*Taken from ‘Gaudi. A Biography.’ by Gijs Van Hensbergen ** ‘Barcelona’s 25 Best’ by Fodor’s
Amazing photos can be found within the blogs below: