La Sagrada Familia, Gaudí's Masterpiece
How many buildings do you know that have been under construction for 130 years and still haven't been finished? Welcome to La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. This giant Gothic inspired cathedral was designed by the incomparable Antonio Gaudi and the first cornerstone of the cathedral was laid back in 1882.
It is hoped that it will eventually be completed in 2026 just in time for the 100th anniversary of his death.
There is much controversy surrounding the cathedral because new construction materials are now being used to build it that Gaudi would not have used and some people feel that this is wrong. In fact when you look at the back and the front of the building you will see a distinct difference in stone colour between the new and the old.
Right from the start work was painfully slow because just when the builders would get so far, Gaudi would make suggestions that work was modified if it wasn't exactly how he envisaged it.
The problem is that nowadays construction experts are working from a model of how he perceived it and as a result it is largely open to interpretation. For this reason many people dislike La Sagrada Familia immensely. However love it or hate it, you have to admire the intricate detail involved in the construction.
After Gaudi's death in 1926 work on the cathedral was sporadic to say the least. In fact it ground to a halt with the interruption of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Even right up to 1975 when the dictatorship of General Franco ended, a little over half had been completed.
Today computer aided design is used to accelerate the building process and as a result, it has seen more completion in the last ten years than it had over virtually the entire period. In 2000 the huge central knave vaulting was finished and builders are now working on the transept vaults.
The plans were for La Sagrada Familia to have 18 impressive looking spires with each one larger than the one before. These spires represent the 12 apostles, 4 evangelists, the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ (The latter is the tallest spire at 175 metres). So far as at 2012 ten spires have been built.
When finished La Sagrada Familia will have three grand fašades The east facing nativity fašade was completed in 1936 and is the one that is most closely connected with Gaudi himself.
In addition the west facing passion fašade depicts a plethora of tormented characters and anyone who takes the time to really look at them can see real fear and torment in the eyes of these stone characters. The south facing Glory Fašade is the newest with work having commenced in 2002. When complete it will be the largest and most detailed of the three fašades and depicts the ascension of a human being to God.
When completed, La Sagrada Familia Barcelona is said to become the tallest church building in the world. So regardless of all the controversy that has surrounded it, love it or hate it you have to agree that it is without doubt a truly impressive structure. For that reason is well worth a visit.
Opening Times and Prices
From October to March the hours are from 09.00 h. in the morning until 18.00 h. in the afternoon. From April to September from 09.00 h. in the morning until 20.00 h. in the afternoon.
The 25th and 26th of December and January 1st and 6th you can enter from 09.00 h. in the morning until 14.00 h. in the afternoon.
Lines 2 and 5 stop at station Sagrada Familia.
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