I can’t say enough about our cruise and our last days spent in Barcelona. One of the best decisions we made (prior to leaving home) was setting up an eight hour private tour with Barcelona Day Tours and a driver, who knew Barcelona. When the ship docked, Christian, our driver, was there to pick us up and we were off! He planned the day according to our interests and what we especially wanted to see. He provided the tickets to get into three of Gaudí’s works, so we never had to wait in line. When the appropriate time came for a stop, he dropped us off, told us how much time we had to spend in each spot, and was there to pick us up at the end of our tour. The time allowed was perfect. He took us to exactly the type of restaurant we wanted to experience for lunch and again there was no waiting to be seated and served, the restaurant was expecting us. We went all over the city, to parks and to a monastery too. He gave us insights into the city and how the people feel about the Catalans gaining their independence. It was so nice to be able to get first-hand knowledge and get answers to any questions you had. On our own it would have taken us several days to see what we did in just those eight hours and we didn’t have to worry about getting to any of the places or getting lost trying to find them or waiting in a line for hours to get in them! We covered a lot of the city in a short time! After that first day we had another two days to explore Barcelona on our own and see the lanes and side streets, the tiny shops and food stores, that I always so enjoy! I highly recommend Barcelona Day Tours!
Now about Sagrada Família. I have traveled a lot. I have seen many, and I mean many churches in my life time, and think they are all unique in their own way. But, nothing, and I mean nothing, will ever compare to Sagrada Família! It is simply one of the best pieces of art architecture in the world, in addition to being the greatest church, in my humble opinion. We took hundreds of photos. I think one could stand outside for years and never see all there is to see on the church. So, I am going to show some of the pictures we took, to give you an idea of what it is like. But, it will be a poor rendition, because you really have to be there to get the affect that Sagrada Família has on you!
First, some interesting tidbits about Antoni Gaudí, the featured architect of Sagrada Família.
Antoni Gaudí was the son of a coppersmith and started his trade by working in his father’s workshop. He moved to Barcelona in 1868, at age fourteen, to prepare to enter the School of Architecture by 1873. He worked as an assistant in an architectural practice as well as in the workshops of a carpenter, glassmaker and locksmith. In his studies he stood out in design, drawing and mathematical calculation. After graduation, his first paid commission was the design of lampposts for Plaça Reial. His designs for newsstands, which were never carried through, were commissioned from a tradesman, Enrique Girossi de Sanctis. The twenty Girossi newsstands would have been spread around Barcelona and included: a public bathroom, a flower stand, glass panels for advertisements, as well as a clock, a calendar, a barometer and a thermometer. The structure was crowned by a large iron and glass roof with a gas light. It was deemed too expensive!
Gaudí’s big break came when he designed a display cabinet for the Esteban Comella Glove Factory, which was exhibited in the Spanish Pavilion at the Paris World Fair in 1878. Industrialist Eusebi Güell was visiting the Fair and wanted to meet Gaudí, and that was the start of a long friendship and professional collaboration as Güell became Gaudí’s main patron and sponsor of his large projects.
Gaudi worked on many projects at the same time. Casa Milà, Park Güell and Sagrada Família, to name a few in Barcelona alone. However, in 1914, Gaudí left all other projects to work on Sagrada Família exclusively, even moving into his workshop there to live. He worked a total of 43 years on the church alone. Over the years he went from a very flamboyant architect to a reserved, pious, and meager-living architect. In June, 1926, Gaudí was struck by a tram in Barcelona. He fell to the side of the street. Taking him for a tramp it was several hours before anyone realized he was injured and took him to the hospital. He languished there for three days before a medical student recognized him and called for one of the priests from Sagrada Família to identify him. It was too late for heroic treatment for Gaudí and he died on June 10. His funeral was a grand event in Barcelona, recognizing him as the greatest architect Barcelona had ever known. He is buried in the Chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the crypt of Sagrada Família.
So let’s see some of the work at Sagrada Família. It’s hard to comprehend how large the church is! So look at the people at the bottom of the photos!
There are three facades, The Nativity facade to the East, the Passion facade to the West and the Glory facade to the South (still under construction) The Nativity facade was built with the most direct influence from Gaudí. The wars interrupted work on the church and some of Gaudí’s models and plans were destroyed. Work on the church continued in 1954. The Nativity facade is the most highly decorated. The Passion facade is austere with bare bone and harsh straight lines to resemble a skeleton. The Glory facade, started in 2002, will be the principal facade and will have access to the central nave. The roof went under construction in 2009 and the organ was installed in 2010 allowing the still unfinished church to be used for religious services. On November 10, 2010 the church was consecrated as a minor basilica (there already is a cathedral in Barcelona) by Pope Benedict. 56,000 people were there for the Mass with 100 bishops and 300 priests to offer Holy Communion! The spires are yet to be completed, but when they are Sagrada Família, will be the tallest church in the world. They are striving for most of the work to be complete by 2026, one hundred years after Gaudí’s death.
The Passion Facade……
We spent a long time walking around several blocks to take photos of the outside of the church. Well worth it!
Now for the controversies!
Gaudí built a school for the builder’s children to go to, right on the construction site. It had to be moved (but it was preserved) to another location so the work on the church could continue. They needed more room to work!
Since 2013, high speed trains have passed through an underground tunnel beneath the center of Barcelona, right under Sagrada Família! There was a big brouhaha between the engineers and architects to the risk this posed to the church. They agreed there was no guarantee that the tunnel would not affect the stability of the church. The Board of the Sagrada Família and the neighborhood association, AVE, led campaigns against this route to no avail! OMG! What are the city planners thinking?
Construction of Sagrada Família is not supported by any government program or any church sources. Private patrons funded the original stages and money from tickets purchased by tourists now pay for the work. Private donations are accepted through Friends of the Sagrada Fàmília. The construction budget is 25 million euros a year! I hope if you get to Barcelona you will go see this phenomenal work of art!
My links to Barcelona Day Tours and my posts about Gaudí’s work are below……… See you next time!