La Sagrada Família: Gaudí’s incomplete masterpiece

La Sagrada Família is a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, designed by architect Antoni Gaudí. Although incomplete, the church is still a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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The construction of La Sagrada Família commenced in 1882, although Gaudí became involved in 1883, taking over the project and transforming it with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926 less than a quarter of the project was complete. Sagrada Família’s construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project’s greatest challenges remaining. There is currently an anticipated completion date of 2026 – exactly 100 years after Gaudí’s death.

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The rear of the basilica is no less impressive than the front. It is not hard to see how it has become the number one tourist attraction in Barcelona (some may say in Spain overall) for a lot of people. The main reason I came to Barcelona was to see La Sagrada Família and the Nou Camp stadium, where FC Barcelona play their football. The admission fee of 15 Euros from each visitor helps to continue to the work on the basilica, as it is not Government-funded. Rather, private investors help to oversee the construction costs. Incidentally, for 19.50 Euros, you can access the towers of the basilica and get great views over the city. The basic admission fee of 15 Euros does not include climbing the towers.

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While the basilica may never get finished in our lifetimes (although 2026 is when they say it will be done – I am sceptical), you can still gaze upon the amazingly intricate stonework from afar. The more you look, the more you find! La Sagrada Família is one of those places where you just drift your camera up and down in amazement and sometimes forget that you’re still standing! It must have taken ages to craft these designs on the walls of the basilica! Ultimately, there will be 3 façades to the basilica: the Nativity Façade; the Passion Façade; and the crème de la crème which will be the Glory Façade, on which work was only began in 2002, so it is still many years from completion.

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The interior of La Sagrada Família is extremely impressive, and without the cranes and construction work visible overhead (such as when looking from the outside), you can actually pretend that the basilica is finished and complete. There is a great atmosphere inside, and very similar in vibe to the wonderment of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul or the National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, or the Jakarta Cathedral (which bears more than a little resemblance to La Sagrada Família, which just goes to show that regardless of religion, you can always be impressed with architecture inside and outside these amazing places of worship.

Barcelona sure was lucky to have somebody as talented as Antoni Gaudí designing much of their city!

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