The Sagrada Familia is the masterpiece of the architect, Antonio Gaudí, (in Catalan the building is called Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família). This architectural beauty that you can’t miss if you visit Barcelona belongs to the Catalan modernisme but combines others styles from different ages. This is because despite starting in 1882, it’s still under construction today.
The tragic death of Gaudí in 1926:
Antonio Gaudí was run over by a tram while he was enjoying one of his bohemian night walks through the city (on the way to the church of San Felip Neri). He was confused by a homeless due to his careless appearance and no one helped him at the time of the accident. He died days later because of his grave wounds.
After his death the temple has been postponed its completion. The destruction of the plans when the anarchists set fire to his study in 1936 and the complexity of Gaudí’s forms have made difficult to finish the Sagrada Familia. The construction of the building is still a great challenge even for the most advanced technologies after a century.
Gaudí was a genius also in the creation of his models. Look at the system he used to create the mock-up of the towers based on small sacs hanging from ropes. It’s an inverted model so you will have to look at the mirror placed above it to see the Sagrada Familia upright. Just amazing!
Gaudí dedicated his life to this Church, now a jewel of the city, revered and admired by locals and visitors. The exterior becomes a puzzle of infinite creativity where the artist gave free rein to his imagination.
- During the life of Gaudí only completed the crypt, the apse and, partially, the Birth Façade.
- At his death took over the construction his assistant, Domènec Sugrañes. Later, it has been under the direction of several architects, being Jordi Faulí i Oller director of the works since 2012.
The sculptural decoration doesn’t miss a single detail thanks to Llorenç and Joan Matamala, Carles Mani, Jaume Busquets, Joaquim Ros i Bofarull, Etsuro Sotoo and Josep Maria Subirachs.
The three faces of the Sagrada Familia:
The Birth Façade:
This façade is dedicated to the birth of Christ and transmits that splendor and life with a very carefully ornamentation. More human and familiar than the others two faces.
The façade is divided into three archivolts, which have three porticoes dedicated to the theological virtues: Hope, Faith and Charity, with the Gate of Jesus and the Tree of Life.
The artist Etsuro Sotoo was the last one to work on this façade (finished in 2000). Don’t miss his sculptures of animals embedded throughout the façade. Turtles, snakes and worms run through the palm leaves at the entrance doors as if Gaudí wanted to leave the real nature printed on his temple forever. Find these animals!
The Passion Façade:
It’s more austere and simple than the others façades because the artist wanted to reflect the suffering of Jesus during the Crucifixion. Don’t miss the nakedness of the stone to give it appearance of bones of skeleton to the columns. One fact that could also influence was that Gaudí designed it during a period of illness “fevers of Malta” in which it retired to Puigcerdà, in 1911.
Please, stand in front of this doors for a couple minutes! The dramatic load it offers to those who know how to interpret its architecture is impressive. Gaudí himself described his conception of the Passion Façade:
“Someone will find this door too extravagant; But I would like you to be afraid, and to achieve it I will not spare the chiaroscuro, the incoming and outgoing motives, all that is more gloomy. Moreover, I am willing to sacrifice the same construction, to break arches and to cut columns to give an idea of the bloody Sacrifice”.
Josep Maria Subirachs was the artist who continued his work between 1987 and 2009. Check their amazing bronze doors at the southwest!
The façade is supported by six large inclined columns, on which there is a pyramidal form with 18 more columns in the form of bone and finished off by a great cross with a crown of thorns.
The towers are dedicated to the apostles St. James the Less, St. Thomas, St. Philip and St. Bartholomew.
The Passion Façade also has three porticos dedicated to Faith, Hope and Charity.
The Gloria Façade:
The works began in 2002. The main façade, much larger and monumental than the rest, will represent Death, Judgment, Glory and even Hell. Through it we will access the central nave of the temple.
Conscious that he wasn’t going to have time to build it, Gaudí left the sketches made so that his successors could finish the work:
“The fragment of the model of the bell towers on the main façade will not complete or develop. I have decided to leave it only programmed for another generation to collaborate in the temple, as is repeatedly seen in the history of cathedrals, whose façades are not only of other authors but also of other styles”.
The decoration represents: demons, idols, false gods, heresy and schisms Purgatory and death.
The porch will have seven great columns dedicated to the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit; in its bases will appear the seven deadly sins, and in the capitals the seven virtues.
Between 2008 and 2012 the doors of the Gloria façade were installed, made in bronze by Subirachs with the inscriptions of the Padre Nuestro.
If the exterior of the building is spectacular, we recommend you to discover the wonders that hide its interior. Simply a travel to another world!