Is Barcelona, is Gaudi – Sagrada Familia (pt.1)

Gaudi is the reason I included Barcelona in the itinerary of my Last Hurrah trip. I’ve loved his work for as long as I can remember. My first physical meeting with him was on my first overseas trip back in 1999. There was Gaudi, sitting on a bench, facing a building he had designed, Casa de los Botines in León, northern Spain. This photo is a digitial image of two film photos I took at the time. The digital age took off during my fifteen years of occasional travel!1999 - Gaudi - Leon, Spain

In Barcelona, the holy grail is of course La Sagrada Familia,  a temple, not a cathedral and only recently (2010) consecrated as a basilica. There can’t be too many people who don’t know of it and its fantastic (in that word’s “imaginative or fanciful; remote from reality” meaning!) design. What I was not prepared for were the classic and Gothic elements throughout this amazing monument – originally commissioned to atone for Barcelona’s sins of modernity! The Gothic is courtesy of the original architect from whom Gaudi took over after only a year or so, completely transforming the original plans. I’m no expert but … you can see different styles and craftsmen at work in two statues that resonate with me: David, for my son of the same name, and Veronica holding the towel with which she wiped the face of Jesus, for my daughter Hilary Veronica.

Visitors and locals alike cannot ignore Sagrada Familia’s presence – it’s there on the skyline from all directions – and the rough outlines of the towers are said to have been inspired by the rocky outlines of Montserrat.

Sagrada Familia has been a work in progress for over a century. As you ascend from the Metro, you’re greeted with an icon that soars to the sky, complete with cranes. Closer up, at ground level there is the builders yard. The comparison of bare walls and the intricate, quirky surface that is so familiar is quite stark.

And so much going on in between, from top to bottom! You get a different view of the work when you go up one of the towers. A mammoth task in itself, to cover and keep safe work that has already been done.

A small museum on site has a fascinating array of machinery, models, photos and hands-on exhibits that explains so much more about this amazing building.

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