American in Spain

La Sagrada Família – Barcelona's Iconic Basilica

November 10, 2014

After seeing an impressive 3D animation recently, which I will include below, I found myself reading, with interest, the Wikipedia page about this interminable building in Barcelona. Ever since reading The Pillars of the Earth and Sarum, I've been fascinated by cathedral building and the knowledge that most cathedrals in Europe were built, not just over many years, but over generations, always adds to my appreciation of them as human accomplishments. There are, however, very few modern projects that fit this traditional mold. The Sagrada Família is one. The building is an "expiatory temple", which means that, like many of the great cathedrals, it was originally funded by The Church officials guilt-tripping rich people into paying for a golden ticket to heaven. You can get so much done when you convince everyone that you know what the all-powerful vengeful deity wants.

They began construction in 1882, and Gaudí, the famous Catalan artist, got involved the following year, and directed most of the design and construction. The name, Sagrada Família – which I originally thought was misspelled because "familia" doesn't have an accent mark in Spanish, but apparently does in Catalan – means "Holy Family", which refers, as you might have guessed, to Joseph, Mary and their only "son", Jesus.

Man, Barcelona looked different back in 1915.

Gaudí's model of the completed church.

I'm not a big fan of Gaudí's work in general, simply because our sense of aesthetics don't align that much, but I regret not going to see this one-of-a-kind structure. I hope to find some time for some Barcelona city breaks sometime soon. Until then, I'll continue to marvel at the 3D modeling magic that is this video that got me interested in reading about this project recently.

As you can see, there remains a lot to be done to reach Gaudí's original goal.

Here's what it currently looks like on the inside.

Views: Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia by Google Maps