Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Sagrada Familia -- second half of our gaudy Gaudi day

 This link is well worth a look.  Click on the right hand side and watch the animation to see what this place will look like when finished.

Elisabeth and Lynn with Barcelona in background.  Photo taken about halfway down
the Nativity Tower of the Sagrada Familia.

My...oh, my...what to write about the Sagrada Familia?  And not sound too tacky.  The best description that comes to mind is that this is the Disney World of cathedrals or basilicas. 

Small section of exterior of Sagrada Familia

Another small section of Sagrada Familia
on opposite side
Antoni Gaudí i Cornet was a famous architect and the best known practitioner of Catalan Modernism. His architectural works were inspired by nature, yet he utilized construction techniques previously undreamed. He is credited by inventing numerous construction techniques which strengthen the physical integrity of structures while also allowing for fantastic visual details. Fellow Catalans lovingly refer to Gaudí as being "God's Architect" and the Sagrada Familia was the masterpiece of his lifetime. 

Another small section of exterior

And it is still under construction!!
Another small section of exterior.
Note the snails.  Strange adornment
for a church.

Floating Jesus on cross.  Why the 'umbrella'?
The Sagrada Familia is the Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family.  Local folks like to say that this basilica has been under construction for 200 years and is still not finished.  But it really is not quite so old.  The beginnings of the Temple go back to 1866 when Josep Maria Bocabella i Verdaguer founded the Spiritual Association of Devotees of Saint Joseph. In 1874 the association began campaigning for the construction of an expiatory temple dedicated to the Holy Family.  In 1881 sufficient donations had been received to enable the purchase of a 12,800 square meter plot of land in Barcelona on which to construct the temple.  That is 137,778 square feet of land for my American friends.  This is not a small place.

The base section of 4 large columns inside
the church are supposedly made of
porphyry.  But after seeing porphyry at
St. Peter's and the Vatican, I have doubts
that this is real porphyry.  It is not the
same deep color as at the Vatican.

The first stone for the temple was laid on St. Joseph's day, 19 March 1882.  The ceremony was presided over by the Bishop of Barcelona, Josep Urquinaona.  The first construction was in the crypt located under the apse and followed a Neo-gothic design by architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano.  He was the first architect of the Sagrada Familia, but he did not last long in this position.  After a short while he resigned from the post of chief architect due to disagreements with the promoters.  The job then fell to Antoni Gaudí and became the primary work of his lifetime.  

Interior, looking upwards

Waiting for elevator to Nativity Tower,
inside the church.

4 columns had 'decorations' high up.  These
were at structural joins that provided strength
for the higher parts.  The bright emblems
were for 4 saints, each a different color.

After taking over the project in 1883, Gaudí continued work on the crypt and it was finished in 1889. He began work on the apse and donations continued to be received at a steady rate. After receiving a substantial anonymous donation, he proposed a new and grander design. He wanted to abandon the old Neo-gothic plan in favor of a far more innovative and monumental design. His design consisted of a large church with a floor plan based on a Latin cross and with soaring towers. Gaudí's plan was immensely symbolic and intended to convey the teachings of the gospels and of the Christian church.

Door on one side, exterior
Exterior door on one side
In 1892 the foundations for the Nativity facade were started. I worried about that long-ago date as Lynn, Elisabeth and I took the elevator to the top of the Nativity tower. I was silently praying that the engineering studies were current for this structure since so very much has been added to this building over the past century.  Just how much weight can that foundation bear?  We took the elevator up and walked down on a very narrow staircase that wound round and round and round to make us dizzy.  There were many small spaces to stop and absorb the scenic views, as well as views of various aspects of the exterior and the interior of the basilica.

Above exterior door on opposite side.
Note all the insects.  Same were on the door.
Second door on opposite side.
This one all leaves.  Very into nature.

Interior of what will be the main entrance.
It is curtained off for now.  Note the black
Darth Vadar thing up high over entrance.

Five generations have already witnessed the rise of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. According to the website for this basilica, construction supposedly will be finished sometime during the first third of this century. A film we watched in the museum beneath part of the church stated that the completion date is currently set to be 2016, hopefully on the 100th anniversary date of Gaudí's death -- 10 June 2026.

Close up of the Darth Vadar thing.
Think it might represent the Virgin Mary?
It is aligned with the floating Jesus farther in.

An often repeated phrase attributed to Gaudí is that the Sagrada Familia is 'a church built BY the people FOR the people.'  Because this structure has been funded entirely by private donations covering a span of many years.

Gaudi used lots of natural light in this church.
Stained glass everywhere and the result is a very light
 filled space with almost no artificial lighting needed.
I will not go into any more detail about this church.  Plenty of information and images are available online for those who are interested.  By the way, I tend to use the terms church and cathedral and basilica interchangeably.   But a church has one cross mounted on roof or tower, somewhere on the exterior of the building.  A cathedral has two crosses.  And a basilica has three crosses.  The Sagrada Familia is a basilica and does have three crosses on the exterior.  As well as snails and butterflies and fruits and martyrs and angels and the Madonna and other insects, etc., etc., and etc.  Even has a floating Jesus on the cross and a Darth Vadar thing that might be supposed to be Mary.  

It is one truly weird building.  Nothing like it anywhere else in the world.

The narrow stairway inside Nativity Tower
More of the narrow stairway.
It was a LONG walk down. Only
people who are physically handicapped
are allowed to take the elevator down.

Looking down on some of the exterior fruit decorations

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