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La Sagrada Familia: Antoni Gaudi’s Final Masterpiece
The Church of the Sagrada Familia
(Holy Family) is one of the most visited attractions in all of Spain
. The much loved, Art Nouveau Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudi devoted the last 15 years of his professional life to the construction of the Sagrada Familia, a massive Roman Catholic Basilica designed to glorify Christianity. The project began in 1882 as a neo-gothic structure designed by architect Francesc de Paula Villar, with Gaudi taking over construction in 1884. Gaudi, already famous by then, for his surreal Art Nouveau buildings that dominate the Barcelona
cityscape, revamped the design in his own unique style.
The Sagrada Familia is still under construction, after all these years, and is not expected to be completed until 2026. After Gaudi’s death in 1926, the construction proceeded in fits and starts, delayed by the Spanish American Civil War and resumed in the 1950s. With many of Gaudi’s original plans and drawings lost, the later architects tried to keep the construction true to Gaudi’s original vision.
Neo-Gothic Meets Art Nouveau: Soaring Towers
- The Sagrada Familia that stands today is a mix of the original neo-gothic style and Gaudi’s unorthodox, surreal embellishments with current adaptations. It is a massive structure with eight, soaring stone spires, rising 100 meters into the sky. The current towers represent the apostles, crowned with bright gold statues. The completed Basilica will have 18 total towers; twelve for each of the apostles, four representing the evangelists, one for the Virgin Mary, and the tallest tower devoted to Jesus Christ.
From a distance, the stone towers resemble gigantic sand castles gone awry, but up close, a visitor can appreciate the colorful, Gaudi-inspired details. The tops of the towers are embellished with colorful mosaics and branded with Christian inspired messages such as, Hosanna and Excelsis. At night, the soaring Sagrada Familia spires are ablaze with golden light dominating the Barcelona skyline.
The Three Facades
- The Sagrada Familia is decorated with three cut out facades, on the east, west and south, decorated with surreal, block-like statues. The Nativity facade on the east side was completed in 1936, and is a study in the birth of Christ, complete with a tall spire topped with a cypress tree and statues of pelicans and angels holding chalices. The western Passion Facade depicts the suffering of Christ with modernistic statues by artist, Josep Maria Subirach. The southern Glory Façade is not completed
- The interior of the Sagradia is unfinished, but a visitor can visit the crypt of Antoni Gaudi and view some museum exhibits about the project and its construction. Instead of climbing the steep and narrow stairs it is recommended to take an elevator to the top of the Nativity and Passion Facades for an up-close view of the remarkable vision of Christianity through the eyes of Gaudi.
Where is Sagrada Familia: Plaça de la Sagrada Familia
How to get to Sagrada Familia: By Subway – Line 2,5 to Sagrada Familia Station
Opening Hours: Daily from 9AM to 6PM
April to September from 9AM to 8PM
Visit the Sagrada Familia official web site here.
La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
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