Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Catalonia region, is characterised by many of Antoni Gaudi’s famous works that even people who know next to nothing about architecture and art should not miss on their visits there. Having read and heard about them for years from various sources, I felt so blessed to be finally there four years ago to physically marvel at the ingenious creativity, the radical boldness with rigorous details, the grandeur, the colours… oh boy was I inspired by them all.
I am going to break them up in separate posts (I hate writing super long posts, just like I hate reading them!)
The most ingenious work has got to be the La Sagrada Familia (Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família), which is like the emblem of Barcelona. Besides the magnificent facade as well as interiors, perhaps it is its long and winding journey to completion, marred with countless challenges yet persisted with relentless determination, that allures me more.
Here is a little history quickie:
This Roman Catholic church, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, started its constructions as early as 1883. Even when Gaudi passed away in 1926 at the age of 73, the church was only less than a quarter completed. It is predicted to be fully completed in 2026, the centennial year after Gaudi’s death. Some of the unwelcome obstacles included:
- Interruption by the Spanish Civil War
- Reliance on private donations only
- Divided support from citizens due to competition with Barcelona Cathedral
- Proposal of building an under-ground tunnel to link Spain’s high-speed rail to France that might affect its stability
- Constant struggle of keeping to Gaudi’s design after his death
- Not to mention the highly complex designs which building techniques in the earlier days, without the help of modern technology, would have taken hundreds of years.
No matter which corner I was standing from inside the church, I could just lift my head up and be treated to structural designs that are out of this world.
Every piece of stone and tile was transformed into breath-taking canvases. Every perspective was a brilliant piece of geometrical artwork.
And the glorious skylight diffused by the beautiful stained glass windows filled the holy grounds with colours and wonders. All part of the ingenious design.
The facade was bursting with so much details that it felt like a visual feast that one can spend hours savouring slowly. The Basilica was conceived to include 18 towers (12 bell towers on the facade representing the Apostles and 6 taller central towers in a pyramid layout reflecting hierarchy of what they symbolise). There is just so much one can read and appreciate about the meaning of the each facade and structure but I will just leave it as that. A truly Art Nouveau master piece that is probably unmatched.
Watch this video here and I am sure you will be inspired to visit it or even re-visit it!