An unfinished temple

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…”

View from Avenue de Gaudi

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.

Passion façade

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.

The 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 scene of the birth of Jesus with musicians and singers

“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.

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

31 thoughts on “An unfinished temple”

  1. One of the most unusual buildings in the world, undoubtedly. I never got to go inside, something I regretted. Maybe I will go back one day, and make sure that I do.
    Great shots indeed, Jude.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    1. The inside is astonishing and when we went only a small part was cordoned off (the altar). We didn’t bother going up any of the towers as neither of us fancied walking all the way back down the spiral staircases.

    1. We can but hope Elaine. It would be nice to see it without all the construction equipment. I hate to think what the queues might be like then though.

        1. We didn’t have to queue except to collect the audio equipment and then only for a few minutes. The bonus of going out of season!

    1. I don’t know about brilliant Gilly, but thank you, you know as well as I do how hard it is to photograph this building. Difficult to get far enough away to reduce the horrid distortions.

  2. Oh, my. Oh, my. Oh, MY! The building itself is amazing and the individual details mindbending. I cannot imagine the experience of enjoying it in person. Wow. Thanks so much. I look forward to your next post. 🙂 😛 ❤

    1. Thank you Tess 🙂 I wasn’t sure I even wanted to visit the building because of all the hype, but I am so glad I did. We were both entirely mesmerised and thrilled by the detail and skills demonstrated in its construction, though not particularly thrilled with the throngs of people which made it almost impossible to move around.

  3. Jude I have seen multitudes of photos of this astounding piece of architecture but yours are unique. Of course it is your creative eye that drew me to your blog years ago.

    1. Thank you Sue, you are so kind. There are some amazing images of this architecture as you say and it is not an easy building to capture as the space around it is limited and the construction vehicles and cranes don’t help. I do my best to try and seek out the details, but to be honest I could have spent the entire 4 days looking at this building.

    1. I wasn’t expecting the outside to be so interesting as it doesn’t look so great from a distance with all the blobby rock. But the sculptures, especially on the Nativity facade, are very interesting and I was totally enamoured with the doors! Inside I was quite stunned.

      1. Inside and out are such a contrast, aren’t they? The magic will stay with me for a long time.
        Currently watching Novak battling Istomin, 4 hours in and 2 sets each! Pure theatre. Rafa later 🙂 Murray tweaked his ankle yesterday but played really well.

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