Sagrada – Temple of the Sagrada Familia, a church in Barcelona built with private donations since 1882.The most famous long-term construction in the world is the project of the famous Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. The building, which began in the 19th century, planned to be completed in 2026.
Barcelona and its illustrious architect
The capital of Catalonia is Barcelona, the most beautiful city in the Mediterranean, famous for its fantastic architecture and interesting educated people.
The daring city of Spain, a symbol of Catalan culture, boldly challenges the established views, enchants and dazzles the imagination. Barcelona owes such fame to Antoni Gaudí, a whimsical architect who was born here and built Art Nouveau buildings.
Barcelona and its unusual architect met when 16-year-old Antonio entered the high school of architecture. Since then, the city has become a laboratory for the architect’s architectural experiments.
The Spanish architect donated 14 original buildings to his native Barcelona. Gaudí, who hated right angles and built buildings without ceilings, changed Barcelona forever and shaped the city’s unique image.
The architect deified nature, drew inspiration from it, transferring the laws of nature to architecture. The master lived and worked, adhering to incomprehensible rules in his work, understandable only to him.
The famous temple of Spain – Sagrada Familia, created by Gaudí, rises above Barcelona, like a huge cave, with bell towers in the form of stalactites and deep grottoes that carry away inside the mysterious temple. The last 43 years, the construction of a majestic and monumental temple has become the meaning of the life of the architect.
Start of construction
On March 19, 1882, on the outskirts of Barcelona, a bishop in festive vestments laid the foundation stone of the future Temple of Atonement dedicated to the veneration and glorification of the Holy Family.
The initiator of the construction was José Maria Bocabella , President of the Holy Brotherhood. Inspired by the Vatican Cathedral of St. Peter, he decided to build a similar structure in his hometown. For 10 years Bocabella raised money to buy land for the construction of a temple on the outskirts of a small village 7 km from Barcelona.
The temple designed by the architect Francisco del Villar, but due to disagreements with the church authorities, the architect left the order. His place in 1883 taken by the talented young architect Antoni Gaudi, who worked tirelessly on the temple.
Since 1914, the architect settled in a workshop on the construction site, lived as a hermit in order to freely control the work, for which he nicknamed “God’s Architect”. Gaudí increased the size of the church and decorated it so that it soon became known as the cathedral.
The architect’s plan
As conceived by the architect, the temple should be erected in the shape of a cross and consist of three facades. The architect conceived to depict on the facades of the Sagrada Familia the key episodes of the earthly life of Jesus Christ, expressed in stone – stucco and sculpture: birth, betrayal and crucifixion, resurrection from the dead.
The architect introduced elements of Baroque, Art Nouveau and Moorish style into the project. Gaudi’s design includes 18 spiers – symbols of 12 apostles, 4 evangelists, as well as the Virgin Mary and Jesus.
Fascinated by the idea, Gaudi was going to embody the entire New Testament in stone. He did not like to think over the details of the project in advance. During construction, he often stopped work, forcing him to redo individual parts of the building in order to embody a new idea.
The townspeople compared the growing cathedral with an anthill, caves and a forest, which corresponded to the architect’s plan.
“It will be like a forest. Soft light will pour through the window openings at different heights, and it will seem to you that the stars are shining, ”wrote the architect.
Gaudi did not have time to embody all the ideas personally. The 74-year-old architect, walking around the city, stopped, admiring the Sagrada Familia from afar, and run over by a tram. An unkemptly dressed old man who looked like a homeless man received no help.
People passed by without recognizing the famous architect, who died three days later in the hospital, leaving no ready-made blueprints for the building project. The body of the famous architect lies in the underground level of the chapel in the Sagrada Familia Temple.
Followers of Gaudi
After the death of Gaudi, the project headed by a student and associate of the architect Domenech Sugranes, who also did not manage to complete the construction. In the XX and XXI centuries, three architects worked on the temple: Francesc Quintanu, Isidre Puig-Boada and Bonet Gary. Using a few of Gaudí’s drawings, they realized their own ideas about the cathedral.
We will never be able to fully understand Gaudí’s ingenious plan. We will never know how the cathedral would have turned out if the architect had lived to see its completion. After all, the most important thing from Gaudi’s plan remains beyond our understanding.
“Either man is playing with God, creating such masterpieces, or God is playing with man, giving birth to such ideas in his head,” said one of the researchers of Antoni Gaudi’s work, frozen in amazement at the Sagrada Familia.
Bible in stone
Gaudí filled his creation to the limit with Christian symbols. The main means of expressing the author’s ideas are unusual sculptural groups and bas-reliefs. Imitating the diversity of nature, the sculptor saturates the facades of the temple with figures of angels and birds, mushrooms and plants, turtles and fantastic animals.
Exterior of the Sagrada Familia
The aerial structure of the Sagrada Familia made up of many interesting details: snails and seahorses, lianas and flowers.
The height of the cathedral is 170 meters: 60 cm below the mountain peak towering over Barcelona. The architect believed that the creation of human hands should not exceed that of the Lord. Each of the three facades decorated with four curvilinear spiers 115 meters high, so that there are 12 peaks.
A distinctive feature of Gaudi’s style is a bizarre combination of natural and man-made beauty. For the architect, it was not just a church, but a grandiose book created in stone. And all visitors called to read this book, who freeze with admiration, looking at the majestic building.
The central, largest tower with a shining cross and four spiers around it is a symbol of Christ and the Evangelists: Luke, Matthew, John and Mark. The details of the sculptures made as realistic as possible. The view of the cathedral, massive and majestic, makes an indelible impression.
Facade of the Nativity of Christ
The façade of the Nativity with its spindle-shaped bell towers made in the Art Nouveau style under the direction of Gaudí. Pompous, the brightest and most joyful, he tells the story of the birth of Christ. In designing this facade, Gaudí used the technique of Gothic architecture – the striving for the sky.
The main decoration of the wall is a sculptural image of three Christian virtues: hope, faith and mercy. Four pointed towers dedicated to the biblical apostles: Barnabas, Judas, Simon and Matthew.
The surface of the facade covered with an intricate stone pattern: the betrothal of Mary, the birth of Jesus, the adoration of the Magi and the Good News. On the pillars dividing the wall into three parts, there are images of Spanish kings and the genealogy of Christ carved in stone. The sculptural groups located on the Nativity façade life-sized by Gaudí.
The facade gate richly decorated with stucco – stone flowers, birds, insects and animals. All nature, according to the architect, joyfully greets the Savior who has come into the world, who was born in a manger.
The main portal made in the form of a palm tree trunk entwined with ribbons of Jesus’ ancestors. Above the portal is a sculptural group depicting the Sagrada Familia (Sagrada Familia in Spanish).
Facade of the Passion of Christ
Opposite the facade of the Nativity is the south-western wall of the temple, covered with polygonal reliefs of the Passion of Christ. The central figure of the facade is the image of the Messiah crucified on the cross. Here is a magic square, the sum of the numbers of which in any combination is equal to 33 – the age of Jesus’ death.
The bas-reliefs of the facade tell about the main human sins, therefore, they should evoke a feeling of fear. The emaciated figures of people look especially bright with the unusual gradation of light and shadow of the sculptures. The stone sculptures show the suffering of Christ: the Last Supper, the Kiss of Judas, the scene of the flagellation of Christ.
The bas-reliefs associated with the death and burial of the Savior are expressive: the Judgment of Christ, Pontius Pilate washing his hands, the Path to Calvary and the Crucifixion of Christ.
The main entrance is marked with a bronze door, on the canvases of which there are texts from the New Testament. The followers of Gaudí, starting to erect the facade of the Passion in 1954 according to his project, drawn up earlier, paid tribute to the great architect.
Antonio Gaudí depicted on the facade of the Passion of Christ in the image of an elder evangelist. The sculpture made according to the master’s last photograph two years before his death.
Facade of Glory, or Resurrection
The gospel story in stone ends with the main event of the New Testament – the Resurrection of Christ, the victory of life over death. The main plot of the story is the eternal confrontation between human sins and virtues.
The Wall of Fame, dedicated to the life of the Messiah in heaven, is the final element of the Sagrada Familia Cathedral. Here, on the largest facade, the central entrance will move in the future.
The builders are erecting a 7-column portico – a symbol of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and tower bell towers. The upper part of the building will decorate with sculptural images of the Trinity and Old Testament texts about the Creation of the world. Directly above them are terrifying pictures of the Underworld and ordinary people doing righteous work.
The façade adorned with louvered towers. Thanks to the numerous openings in the graceful towers, the sound of church bells agitated, exquisitely iridescent. The wind blows melodious sounds in the towers.
Interior of the Sagrada Familia
The interior of the Sagrada Familia temple differs from the interior design of traditional temples. Working on the cathedral, the architect wanted to achieve complete unity with nature, so the inside of the Sagrada Familia resembles a fairy-tale forest bathed in sunlight, not a classical church.
The premises of the temple divided into 5 naves by columns that look like gigantic trees or huge colored sunflowers directed towards the sky. Constructed of reinforced concrete, porphyry and basalt, they easily support not only the massive church vault, but also the towers that rise above it.
There are no straight lines in the temple. The inner columns do not stand vertically, but at an angle – with a changeable shape: a square, then an octagon, and at the very end – a circle branching out like a crown of trees.
At the intersections located at different heights, light gently penetrates, creating the feeling of stars shining through the foliage.
The spiral staircases in the form of swirling spirals that resemble huge snails are breathtaking. Round and elliptical windows refract light, painting the interior of the cathedral in magical colors. Carved stained glass windows look like unearthly flowers. The color scheme of the cathedral symbolizes the 4 seasons.
The unique acoustics of the temple presupposes the presence of a large choir, in the cathedral there is space for 30,000 worshipers.
In 2005, the Sagrada Temple included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. In 2010, the temple consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI and declared a functioning church.
The Sagrada Familia a popular attraction in the world; 3 million tourists visit the temple annually. Tourists climb the top of the tower by elevator or by a long spiral staircase.
The construction, which lasts 130 years with the voluntary donations of believers, not yet completed, but even in its unfinished form, the Sagrada Familia amazing.