We are in Barcelona, home to Gaudi and his Sagrada Familia, Holy Family church. We came up out of the metro station into the bright blue Mediterranean sky and it’s there, on top of me, calling my eyes to the sky. It’s enormous, and unfortunately, also really dirty, which was impossible to not notice.
The people of Barcelona began work on the church in 1882 and commissioned Antoni Gaudi to be the architect. He worked on the project for over 40 years. It is scheduled to be completed in 2026, one hundred years after his death.
We were in front of the nativity façade first, which is the only part of the church finished in Gaudi’s lifetime and most reflects his vision. The architectural details mix Christian symbols with images and patterns from nature for an intricate and sensitive portrayal of the holy family.
In contrast, the passion façade was sparse with modern, jagged lines and gaunt, tormented faces. These apparently controversial sculptures are the work of Josep Maria Subirachs. I personally liked the sharp differences in the two façades.
The website of the foundation that manages the construction of the church is full of fascinating information about the church building and construction. Click here to read more and see the amazing pictures.
I wonder at artists and architects like Gaudi who begin great projects like Sagrada Familia knowing they will not see the completion. I wonder if he would approve of and appreciate the direction the construction is taking today. The current architects are following his vision as much as possible given that his original plans and models were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War in 1936. I look forward to returning to Barcelona some day to see the completed church, with its central tower with a cross rising some 550 feet into the sky, dwarfing everything we see today.
The church is located in the Eixample neighborhood of Barcelona, in walking distance to Gaudi’s famous art nouveau buildings, Casa Batllo and Casa Mila. Click here for opening times, admission fees and tour information for Sagrada Família.