Thursday's Child: Sagrada Familia

Thursday, January 12, 2012
One of the most unique places of worship we’ve visited is Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia. 130 years after it was first commissioned, it’s still under construction, and years away from being done. 

This basilica, known in English as the Church of the Holy Family, was begun in 1882, with the idea that it would be finished in a decade.  However, a year later, the great architect Antoni Gaudi took over the project, and the scope of the building as well as the timelines of the project were radically changed. 

I’ve written about Gaudi before (here and here); in this project, as well as others, his originality and vision are breathtaking.  He often changed his plans partway through a project, which was one of the reasons for the delays in finishing.  Once, when asked why it was taking so long to complete the basilica, he answered, “My client is not in a hurry.”

When Gaudi died in 1926, the building was only 25% finished.  For a while, the project slowed down or stopped completely, due to both the Spanish Civil War and the drying up of private donations.  It was assumed that the Barcelona skyline would forever be dominated by this half-finished place of worship.

However, the Barcelona Olympics and the entry of Spain into the European Union renewed interest in this glorious city and its unusual basilica.  Now, construction is being funded by entrance fees, and completion is once again possible.  Some critics say it could be finished in 2026, the hundredth anniversary of Gaudi’s death. Other estimates say it’s as far off as eighty years in the future.

As in his other buildings, Gaudi shunned flat surfaces and straight lines, using curves, circles and elaborations nearly everywhere, inside and out.  Sculptures range from the crude and primitive to extravagant and ornate.   Columns twist and turn, and change shape completely as they rise.

Opinions about the basilica have been mixed, to say the least.  When dedicating it in November 2010, Pope  Benedict described it “as a hymn of praise to God carved in stone”.   On the other hand, George Orwell once called it “one of the most hideous buildings in the world”.  Whatever you think of it, Sagrada Familia truly is a one-of-a kind church.


35 comments:

Bonnie said...

Amazing architecture. I find it both beautiful and haunting in some respects. Barcelona has always been on my list of places I would like to visit. The pictures are wonderful!

Valerie said...

These photos are stunning, what an imagination!!

Joanne said...

Wow, and for a structure so old, or partly old, it has such a modern-day look to it. It doesn't have that old gothic feel that other cathedrals have. I like that it is an evolving piece of art, and hope that in some way, it always will be.

cookingmisadventures.com said...

How neat is that building - and the story behind it is fascinating. :) I wanted to let you know that you are still welcome to enter my giveaway - I'll be emailing the giftcard and you can order online (though I'm not sure of the shipping prices to Canada...) ~ Courtney

Kitchen Belleicious said...

beautiful, just beautiful photos

The Golden Eagle said...

I have to wonder what it will be like once it's finished; it's amazing as it is!

I love the pictures.

Claudia said...

"My client is not in a hurry." Best excuse ever. It's fascinating - I don't think it ugly - not the way it soars into the sky - bu my - that is a long time in coming!

Claudia said...

Sorry - that is "but" not "bu" - I see what isn't there.

Julie said...

Amazing architecture!! Another wonderful trip!

Carol said...

I think it's a fantastic vision. But boy it's taking a long time :) Amazing shots!

Lizzy said...

What an impressive structure! The stained glass windows are just stunning... Thanks for sharing another great church, Beth.

Simply Life said...

I neeed to go to Barcelona- gorgeous pictures!

Janet Johnson said...

I think it's amazing! What an undertaking. We tend to be so rushed in today's culture, but sometimes the time it takes makes it what it is.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Wow! That is a fantastic church! Thanks so much for sharing its story with us, Beth.

Have a wonderful weekend. :-)

Pacheco Patty said...

This is amazing, we were fortunate to have visited Barcelona and the Sagrada Familia Church, the intricacy of it's architecture makes it difficult to visualize it being finished. Thanks for sharing your photos;-)

yummychunklet said...

Wonderful photos!

Jess said...

*sigh* I'm still sick that I lived in Spain for 6 months and didn't make it over to Barcelona...

Belinda said...

One of my favorite buildings of all time! So magical!

Aarthi said...

awesome pictures


Aarthi
http://yummytummy-aarthi.blogspot.com/

Katerina said...

Gaudi definitely put his unique mark to all buildings he created. I've never been to Spain. It is a country I have in my must go list!

Jill Colonna said...

Oh, you have just reminded me that Barcelona is on our list of places to visit. I've been fascinated with Gaudi and this building. Thanks so much for the explanations - fabulous post. I know it's late but a very magical, healthy and happy New Year to you, Beth!

julie said...

I love LA Sagrada Familia! It's been years since I visited, but I remember it being one of my favorite sites in Europe. So unique and beautiful.

bakewithjill.com said...

Finished or not, it's pretty fabulous!

Neesie Natters said...

I've never seen Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia or been to Barcelona in fact, but its on my wish list.
Thank you for an enjoyable quick visit with brilliant photo's. I really enjoyed my tour.

Have a wonderful weekend Beth :D

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Wow, you really do go to some the most beautiful places in the world, Beth. I'm jealous. :)

Sarah said...

I love it. I would love to see it one day. Your pictures are wonderful.

Elaine said...

From your photos, I have to agree with the Pope. What a stunning church! And those windows!

Sudha said...

Hello Beth,
First time on your blog and loved being here - your blog is wonderful with a whole treasure trove of delicious recipes and a lot of wanderlust!!I think I'll really enjoy following your blog and hence following you from now on:)Great meeting you - do drop by my place sometime too!

Angie's Recipes said...

Breathtaking photos!

Jeanne said...

What a fascinating story, and such unique architecture!

Ruth said...

Great photos - personally, I agree with Orwell. :)

comfortablydomestic.com said...

Amazing that more than 130 years have passed and the basilica is not complete. With the scope of the stunning architecture, it's no wonder!

Becki Jacobs said...

Wow, it's hard to believe something that would take that long to build...even 2026 seems hard to imagine. The stonework is stunning!

sally said...

Barcelona is definitely on my list of places to go! Thanks for sharing your photos!

Amie Kaufman said...

I thought it was extraordinary -- I've been to cathedrals, churches and basilicas all over the world, but my mouth fell open when we visited La Sagrada Familia. The columns, modelled after a forest, just took my breath away. Thanks for the mini trip back!

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