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10/08 - We visited the Sagrada Familia (Holy Family Church). We arrived at the Basilica
shortly after sunrise. The Church was still basked in warm yellow sunlight. This is
Antoni Gaudi's most famous and persistent work. He labored on the Sagrada Familia
from 1883 until his death in 1926. Since then construction has continued,
but the final sections are not expected to be completed for another 50 years (at least).
ABOVE left - These four 330-foot towers topped with crosses on the Nativity Facade
are just a fraction of this mega-church. When finished, the church will have 18 spires.
Four will stand at each of the three entrances. Rising above those will be four taller towers,
dedicated to the four Evangelists. A tower dedicated to Mary will rise 400 feet and in the
very center of the complex will stand the grand 560-foot Jesus tower, topped with
a cross that will shine like a spiritual lighthouse, visible even from out at sea.
ABOVE middle - Closer view of the Nativity Facade. We took an elevator up in the tower at the
right, crossed a bridge in the center, then came down lots of winding steps in the left set of towers.
ABOVE right - Closer view of the four towers on the nativity Facade. When Gaudi died in 1926,
only one spire had been competed. The rest of the church has been inspired by his vision
but designed and executed by others. He left lots of drawings and models that they rely on
for guidance and inspiration. In the center of this picture behind the Tree of Life,
you can see the bridge we crossed to get from one set of towers to the other set.
ABOVE - The entire facade is sculpted in religious figures.
This side depicts the birth and early life of Christ.
ABOVE middle - The Passion Facade looks much different from the Nativity Facade.
The four spires were designed by Gaudi and completed (quite faithfully) in 1976.
But the lower part was only inspired by his designs. The stark sculptures were interpreted
freely by Josep Maria Subirachs and completed in 2005. The style is severe and
unadorned and tells the story of Christ's passion, death & resurrection.
BELOW second from left - A close-up view of the dove-covered Tree of Life on the
Nativity Facade. We took this photo looking out of a viewpoint on our tower tour.
BELOW - Another close-up view from the tower of the most recent construction. Many of
Gaudi's designs are based on nature as seen here by flower shapes around the windows.
ABOVE - The top lighter colored structure is the latest work completed. Continuing toward
the left will be the still to be built main entrance. That means that the nine-story apartment
building there now will eventually have to be torn down to accommodate it. The three facades -
Passion, Nativity & Glory - will chronicle Christ's life from birth to death to resurrection.
BELOW left - Descending a never-ending spiral staircase in the tower.
Wonder whose toes those are?
The columns of the interior are a unique Gaudí design. The columns are inclined and
branched-like trees. The weight is routed directly over the pillars in the ground - all this
without bearing facade or exterior buttresses. The result of this ingenious solution
is spectacular: the pillars and arches supported by them transform the interior of the temple
into a stone forest of palm trees, lots of light streaming in through large windows and the vault.
In the centre is the raised altar, crowned by the Latin cross with a canopy, decorated with vines
and grapes of a vine, as Gaudí's only concession to the traditional church design. Behind the altar
are the organ pipes, which, although they have very large dimensions, represent very delicate work.
BELOW middle - Stained glass reflections on a pillar inside the church. Gaudi intended
that the interior felt like a forest. Notice how many of the pillars divide into branches
part-way up. The floor and ceilings were only recently completed in 2010, just before
Pope Benedict XVI held a mass here to consecrate and dedicate the church as a basilica.
So many beautiful stained glass windows!
When the sun is just right, the cathedral is filled with color.
Stained glass windows throughout the interior were just recently completed.
Light flowing though them streams colors throughout the nave
Each set of windows contained different groups of colors - Love the blue variations.
BELOW - This is the workshop under the cathedral where the models used for the
construction are constantly updated. The new models reflect the changes that are
ongoing from the 3D programs on the computers that these engineers are looking at.
BELOW left - Close-up of the models for the new Basilica.
BELOW middle - Final look up at the Passion Facade before we reluctantly departed.
We spent nearly three hours there, so figured it was time to move on to other sightseeing
BELOW - Sagrada Familia from another side.