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Gaudi's Sagrada Familia

May 03, 2007

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You can not see Barcelona without seeing Temple de la Sagrada Familia! Some call Gaudi’s life masterpiece only a construction site and indeed it is a construction site as it has been under construction since 1882, but “only” is not accurate, as it touches ones soul.

Many make pilgrimages to Barcelona just to see it and Gaudi’s other works and it is the highlight of the city, defining the Catalan creativity here. It is difficult to contemplate the wonders of Barcelona without thinking about Moderniste architecture which was a turn of the century spin off of Art Nouveau. Out of all the Moderniste architects, Gaudi was and is the best known and many of his works are in Barcelona and brings a special energy to the city. Sadly he died a pauper in 1926 never knowing how beloved his works became.

The cathedral is huge and extravagantly sculptured with not a straight angle in the place and unlike anything else in the world. DaVinci was here twenty years ago and they were working on it and they are still a long way from finishing today. Perhaps Mozart can bring her children when it is finished and tell them that she watched this ancient cathedral be built when she was a young girl.

Today there are eight towers, all looking a little like they are melting from the outside and over one hundred meters high,with ten more still to be built. Curves and light gone a little mad define the awe inspiring inside. The Nativity facade on the northeast side was done during Gaudi’s time under his direct supervision and it is extremely different than areas done later.

We talked with an English engineer acquaintance while there, who just hated it and much prefers a traditional European cathedral. Perhaps because we look at it as artists, we had a very different opinion. I love it that it is unique amongst the great cathedrals in Europe as the rest can have an air of sameness to them.

La Sagrada Familia will probably always be a controversial place that some will love and some will hate, but I think that just adds to its allure and fame. Each person must see it themselves and decide what it says to them. It feels like an honor to be able to observe one of Europe’s great cathedrals while it is still being built. We much preferred this gem to the traditional one in the Gothic Quarter.

I took the distant picture from above the Olympic area as it is one of the few ways to capture the entire church, cranes and all. Cranes and scaffolding seem to just be part of the European scene (we have run into them in Italy too), so we have grown accustomed to them at long last. Some how it does seem a little ironic though, that one of Spain’s most famous sights has cranes attached like so much of the rest of the country.

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