Have you ever worked on a project that you had such a grand vision for but it becomes an obsession? Yes. I am raising my hand. There are certain posts that we have written that we keep coming back to. We keep adding and adding and in the end it becomes this huge garbled mess. What was once a slim and sleek read has hit the buffet line and swelled to a 2000 word monstrosity. We feel that one of the most noted Catalan modernist architect Antoni Gaudi may have had the same problem with his masterful creation the Sagrada Familia Basilica. The good news? While Gaudi may have overdone the exterior, the inside of the Basilica is close to perfection as we have found in our travels.
A Little History
The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família is better known by its familiar name: the Sagrada Familia. Construction the on basilica began in 1883. The principle visionary behind the project was none other that local Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi (25 June 1852–10 June 1926). Gaudi literally poured his soul into this project. He labored 40+ years on the structure, which was only a quarter of the way to completion at his untimely demise. The construction was plagued by work stoppage, lack of funding and a civil war. The Basilica continues to be a work in progress as the cranes in the photo above reflect.
Gaudi is interred in the crypt of the Sagrada Familia. His grave stone reads:
Antonius Gaudí Cornet. Reusensis. Annos natus LXXIV, vitae exemplaris vir, eximiusque artifex, mirabilis operis hujus, templi auctor, pie obiit Barcinone die X Junii MCMXXVI, hinc cineres tanti hominis, resurrectionem mortuorum expectant.
The life of an exemplary man, exquisite designer of this wonderful work, the author, died piously in Barcelona on 10 June 1926, from the ashes of such a man, the resurrection of the dead are waiting.
The capstone of our visit to the wonderful Spanish city of Barcelona was the Sagrada Familia. Walking into the main nave of the Basilica is a spiritual experience regardless of which direction your faith points you. The inside of the church is best experienced on one of those days when the Spanish sunshine bathes Barcelona. It’s light filled nave fills the huge room with warmth and glow. Towering columns draw the eye skyward. Beautiful stained glass shower the entire nave with warm light in a myriad of colors.
With the good there is always the bad. The exterior of the basilica is nicknamed the bird’s nest. It is plastered with every biblical illustration imaginable. Way over done in our uneducated and untrained eyes. It feels like a project that lacked a good friend to say, “ok…that’s good. Time to move on.” Every inch of the exterior is covered, in some areas, there are three and four levels of figurines. Candidly the longer you look at it, the more you feel it went over the top leaning more kitsch than moderiste.
George Orwell thought it to be one of the dreadful buildings he had ever seen and was said to have “wondered why the Anarchists hadn’t wrecked it in the Civil War”.
Picasso also had some choice words for the design that are not fit for print.
What are your thoughts? Too much?
Opening Hours and Getting There
The basilica is open to the public from 9am till 9pm. Please visit the basilica’s website to get the latest details on opening hours.
L5 and L2 Sagrada Familia
19, 33, 34, 43, 44, 50, 51, B20 and B24