I’m taking a short break from the UK trip and English cathedrals and going back to October and my first visit to Barcelona where I continue in the cultural vein. First the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família which probably needs no introduction to most of you. Famous as Antoni Gaudi’s last and greatest masterpiece, it is hoped that it will finally be finished in 2026 to mark the centenary of his death. Maybe, with a bit of luck, I will be able to visit it again then.
“My client is not in a hurry…”
The Sagrada Familia is an international centre for spirituality which, in an exceptional setting, invites people of all backgrounds and faiths to share in a sense of life based on love, harmony, good, generosity and peace.
Before going in to the building we took a wander around the outside. Although there is a lot of construction going on and cranes, scaffolding etc. in the way, it is possible to see a lot of the recent work.
The sculptures on the Passion façade (Western side) are very different to those on the Nativity side. It is austere, plain and simple, with ample bare stone, and is carved with harsh straight lines to resemble the bones of a skeleton. Although I’m not keen on the sculptures, they do convey the feeling of despair and deep suffering. The building itself is supposed to represent ribs and muscles.
Please consult Wikipedia for more information about the façades
In contrast the Nativity façade is much more decorative and characteristic of Gaudi’s naturalistic style. It faces the rising sun to the north-east to represent the birth of Christ and divided into three porticos – Faith, Hope and Charity – and a tree of life.
“It is probably impossible to find a church building anything like it in the entire history of art”
~ art critic Rainer Zerbst
“The most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages.”
~ Paul Goldberger
You could spend an awfully long time looking at the stories and all the little details on the façades and one of my favourite parts was actually the doors – about which I will create a separate post.
If you are going to visit the Sagrada Familia then I would recommend that you buy your timed tickets online before you go to avoid the long queues, and also choose the audio tour. This gives you so much information about what it is you are seeing and you can do the tour in your own time and route. I would imagine trying to hear a tour guide in among all the crowds must be pretty difficult.
Next will be the interior which is like no other interior of a church ever seen.