This is easy to understand since so much of the city bears his unmistakable stamp. Nowhere
is this more evident than in his unfinished masterpiece, Temple
de la Sagrada Familia, The Temple of the Holy Family. Work initially began in 1883 but halted after the
architect's untimely death from a tram accident in 1926.
On its way to becoming as tall as nearby Montjuic
(564 feet/172m), this tribute to the architect's passion is one of
Barcelona's great wonders. More than a 120 years later, the cathedral
is still actively under construction, and work is scheduled to continue for the
next few decases.
The exterior of the "Temple" is a series of spires surrounding a narrow
portal that admits visitors to the interior. Looking at the unusual towers, it's
clear where Cesar Pelli, the designer of the Petronas
Towers in Malaysia, received his inspiration.
But before going in, take time to marvel at the hundreds of small
friezes that adorn the facade. There are figures of saints and ordinary
folk alike, all done in a fantastic modern style unlike any other
church. At times, they appear almost cubist.
Make note of the many high-arched windows that surround the building,
shedding light to the interior of the church that some say glows like a candle
on a sunny day. Higher above them the slits in the spires are still more narrow,
bringing the eye up to the top and then the sky.
Once you've made note of the outside, enter this magnificent structure.
On the ground floor there are several reconstructed scale models of the
work as Gaudi envisioned it. Unfortunately, most of the originals were
destroyed. Photographs show the progress of construction as the building has gone
through several stages. There are some pictures of Gaudi's funeral, as well.
Visitors who look closely at the models and phots can see many
reflections of elementsin the building. The Nativity scene, the story of the serpent in the
garden and many others are easily visible at the base of the central
column of the Portal of Charity.
The column itself is a work of sculpture unlike that found in any other city, with a complete
genealogy of Christ.
Even the relatively plain columns are a wonder to behold!
Starting with a simple, Greek-style fluting they arch
seamlessly high above the visitor's head where they branch out like living trees. Joining them
are a series of organic-looking flowers in stone.
Nearby is the Portal of Faith
with scenes of Jesus preaching as a teen, surrounded by religious symbols such as grapes and wheat. The Portal of Hope on the other side shows
animals and plants from the Nile, another site with religious significance. Sculptures of Joseph and Mary
sitbeneath a sculpted boat piloted by St. Joseph.
Easily the most famous building in a city with so many of them, the
Temple de la Sagrada Familia could consume a day to itself on any visit to
Barcelona. Plan to spend a couple of hours at the minimum musing among
the hundreds of items to see.