La Sagrada Familia

Truthfully, the anti-tourist in me had very little interest in visiting “another church”.  I’ve seen a few in my lifetime, and the stories of long lines and crowds just didn’t sit well with me.

But, Sagrada Familia is the #1 “must see” in Barcelona according to just about every source that we’ve run across so, ok, I joined Deb, Suzanne, and Denise and tagged along.

La Sagrada Família inspires awe and it’s still under construction after more than 100 years. When completed, the highest tower will be more than half as high again as those that stand today.

Unfinished it may be, but it attracts around 2.8 million visitors a year and is the most visited monument in Spain. The most important recent tourist was Pope Benedict XVI, who consecrated the church in a huge ceremony in November 2010.

The Temple was Antoni Gaudí’s all-consuming obsession. Given the commission by a conservative society that wished to build a temple as atonement for the city’s sins of modernity, Gaudí saw its completion as his holy mission.

Gaudí devised a temple 95m long and 60m wide, able to seat 13,000 people, with a central tower 170m high above the transept (representing Christ) and another 17 of 100m or more. The 12 along the three facades represent the Apostles, while the remaining five represent the Virgin Mary and the four Evangelists.

At Gaudí’s death, only the crypt, the apse walls, one portal and one tower had been finished. Three more towers were added by 1930, completing the northeast (Nativity) facade.

In 1936, anarchists burned and smashed the interior, including workshops, plans and models. Work began again in 1952.  Guesses on when construction might be complete range from the 2020s to the 2040s.

As it turns out, I thought the place was amazing.  My impression of Gaudi’s work has always focus on the artistic side of his creations.  After spending time in the Cathedral itself and then even longer in the museum documenting its construction, I walked away being totally impressed with the engineering skills needed to create the structure.  Gaudi may have been an artist, but he was also one heck of an engineer.  And…we are talking about skills in place over 100 years ago.  No CAD programs, no calculators, etc. etc.

Absolutely happy that I played tourist for a day.  If you have the chance, take the opportunity to visit.

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