The most well known of Gaudi’s works and something I’ve wanted to see since my college days the Sagrada Familia exceeded my expectations. Probably the largest piece of environmental sculpture in the world (for that is surely what it is) it blends to perfection the best of sculpture, stained glass and architecture. No wonder he is widely known as “God’s architect” his love for God is expressed in purest form, a meeting of the arts, nature and faith.
The exterior is reminiscent of a mountain inset with caves and grottoes harboring scenes from the life of Christ, rough texture, like a landslide, contrasts smooth classical line and the dove bedecked Christmas tree, coloured fruits and vegetables that top the towers all somehow manage to blend in harmony. (The sketches and molds housed in the basement make it abundantly clear that his constant inspiration was nature.) Even the massive frontal arch of the Passion entrance are reminiscent of ribs and stretched ligaments. Every detail has meaning and I could well imaging living happily alongside it, daily finding more wonders.
Perhaps one of the most outstanding things was that far above the crucifixion facade, on a beam crossing between two towers, Jesus sits, bronzed, at ease, casually looking down on all.
Inside is forest themed. The great classical pillars at first look normal cathedral fare but a closer inspection reveals they are subtly different in size and hue, made from different stones. The roof imitates the canopy, the pillars branching out decked in formalized leafy foliage. The light pouring from the stained glass glimpsed between the “trees” echoes the forest at sunset. Amidst all this Jesus hangs on the cross, suspended below a golden canopy, not touching the earth but gazing up to where far above the roof opens in a glory of gold and silver light.
Something I didn’t realize is that the cathedral is not yet finished (hence the ever present scaffolding) the final towers are yet to be added. Gaudi began building as a young man and they hope to have it finished for the 100 year anniversary of his death at eighty something. It contains the collaborative work of many artists over several generations working in harmony to produce this incredible piece of art to the glory of God.
If you’ve yet to see it
I suggest you add it to your bucket list! (Unfortunately my photographic skills were not up to the glowing coloured light streaming in. The whole interior is full of light and colour not nearly as dark as some photos suggest but at least it will give an idea.)