The Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) is a monumental church begun in 1882 but not to be completed within the lifetime of its master architect, Antoni Gaudi who quipped, “My Client is not in a hurry!”. Throughout its history it has attracted awe, criticism, and in recent years people… throngs of people. It is now one of the top 3 most visited sites in Europe. Reservations are needed to visit this privately funded marvel and still the line for visitors can extend the circle of a city block.
Gaudi’s genius becomes immediately apparent as one tries to comprehend the mind that conceived of this otherworldly creation. Gaudi drew inspiration from nature. Thus, his preferred building elements were curves, ellipses, and ovals.
He shunned the common design features of straight lines, squares and rectangles. In Gaudi’s day the computer tools to design with his favored elements did not exist, so he improvised. Tying hundreds of strings from a ceiling and joining them with small bags of sand he found that gravity drew the strings into natural parabolic curves. Using mirrors on the floor he was able to draw from the reflected images into his designs.
The church, now declared a Basilica, will feature 18 different spires. The central spire, representing Christ, will be 560 feet tall at completion. Entry into the Basilica is breathtaking. Instead of straight columns supporting a ceiling, the supports mimic trees ascending to a distant forest canopy. Stonework is kaleidoscopic in both color and presentation.
The exterior features 3 principle facades. At our visit in 2013 the Nativity and Passion facades, at opposite sides of the church, were starkly different. The stonework on the Nativity side is organic and “flows” with the lifelike Biblical images.
In contrast, the Passion facade is stark, angular, and almost painful to behold.
This art, inside and out, immediately connects with one’s emotions. Visiting the Sagrada is the most moving architectural experience in my life.
The Sagrada Familia will become the tallest religious building in the world in 2026. It may be completed by 2030, 158 years after it was begun. We secured our reservations to visit weeks in advance and eagerly look forward to seeing the progress that was made in the last 5 years. Below you will find links to a time-lapse presentation about the Basilic and also a video that extrapolates to show what construction will occur to bring Antoni Gaudi’s dream to completion. Enjoy!
Peace Everyone! Pete