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Saturday, November 5, 2016

Urban Sketching Barcelona. Day 7, Tuesday, October 11, 2016: Sagrada Familia

From my Barcelona Sketchbook

"The Sagrada Familia - or Church of the Holy Family - 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." from the website sagradafamilia.org

October 11, 2016

The Sagrada Familia's first architect was  Fracisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano who drew up a plan for a Neo-gothic church and the first stone was laid on St. Joseph's Day in 1882. But after a very short while, due to disagreements with the promoters, Antoni Gaudí was awarded the project. And in true Gaudí style, he abandoned the neo-gothic idea to pursue one that was more monumental and innovative. And boy is it ever! It seems like every square inch of it has some sort of imaginative detail and it's so over the top, but it works. I can't help but think how many poor people could be fed, clothed and healed for the amount of money being spent on it, but I have to admit, it IS spectacular!

I had a reservation for a timed entry so I was able to walk right in and not wait in line. Since I had arrived early, I had time to find a great vantage point and started the sketch you see at the top, that I finished after I had completed my self-guided tour, at my own pace.

Seeing this in person is overwhelming - there is so much to see you could spend a lifetime finding all the details that seem to fill every square inch. But nothing prepares you (even if you've seen photos) for the feeling of walking through the doors into this light-filled space! I've always loved stained glass windows (who doesn't?) but these are like none I've ever seen (like the interior itself!) bits of color that radiate out and bathe the walls and pillars, changing with the changing light. Some in shades of blues to greens, some reds, yellows, oranges. To say that it is breathtaking barely gets the point across. The pillars are designed to resemble tree trunks that rise up to the ceiling in patterns and shapes that represent the foliage. The overarching theme is nature, plants, organic forms and religious devotion, and Gaudí utilized stone, reinforced concrete, ceramics, glass, bronze, masonry, wood, metal and whatever materials would serve his purpose best.

"Today, materials are applied using techniques offered by modern construction technology. Stone is cut using computer controlled systems, as are the wooden or metal, even polyester, fibreglass or polystyrene, frames and shuttering used for reinforced concrete. Finally, mention must be made of present-day ancillary equipment (metal scaffolding, tall, powerful cranes, and computer-aided redesigning systems) which have become indispensable tools for carrying out construction with precision and efficiency, as well as the procedure of pre-mounting large stone pieces, frames or shuttering on a large site on the outskirts of Barcelona." from www.sagradafamilia.org

I also booked a time to go up in an elevator in the Nativity facade, knowing I would have to walk all the way back down and not caring. The views were amazing and fortunately there were windows at every turn as well so that I never felt closed in. I loved it! 

Gaudí worked on La Sagrada Familia until his death in 1926 when, in his 70s he was hit by a trolley car and died from his injuries. When he died, only the first bell tower had been built. It has been under construction on and off since that first stone was put in place, with some delays for wars and fundraising, but it has all followed Gaudí's vision and work continues to this day, with plans for completion around 2020. I hope to see that!

I've given you a completely condensed view of the history of this church, but please visit the website to learn more, click here for the whole story. Click on the photos to see the whole image. 

From a Park across the pond

Details of the Nativity Facade

Detail of the leaf pattern above the doors

Stained glass windows are breathtaking - without religious imagery

The pillars are like tree trunks with the ceiling the foliage

Detail of the statuary on the Passion Facade

I went up into one of the towers and the views were breathtaking

Me, at the top with Barcelona below

Details: host and chalice with mosaics representing wheat and grapes

The doors are all different, all beautiful

Passion Facade, looking up - every surface is full of interest

Passion Facade with Christ tied to a pillar and 3D words above the doors

Looking down from the inside the tower

Details galore on every square inch! 


The tree at the center of the Nativity Facade with doves from my viewpoint in the tower

Stone carved detail

The Passion Facade

Another view 

Looking up 

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