If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m not much of a history buff nor do I enjoy going to the typical touristy kind of stuff….but this place BLEW my mind away.
The construction of Sagrada Familia had began in 1882, but Gaudi took over in 1883, transforming the project with his architectural and engineering style — combining Gothic and curvilinear, Art Nouveau forms with ambitious structural columns and arches. Okay, so I’m not really an artist and I don’t entirely know what “art nouveau” means… so…you’ll have to Google that too if you want more information about it.
The church is still unfinished, but late 2010, opened to have regular religious services. It was also then that it was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI on 7 November, 2010, in front of 6500 people (including King Juan Carlos I of Spain and Queen Sofia. (Google them too for more info. I have enough facts to get through here…). A further 50,000 people followed the consecration mass from outside the basilica, where more than 100 bishops and 300 priests were on hand to offer Holy Communion.
The Evangelists' spires will be surmounted by sculptures of their traditional symbols: a bull (St Luke), a winged man (St Matthew), an eagle (St John), and a lion (St Mark). The central spire of Jesus Christ is to be surmounted by a giant cross; the spire's total height (170 metres) will be one metre less than that of Montjuïc hill in Barcelona. Gaudi’s thought process was that no creation of mankind should be greater than the creation of the Lord. The lower spires are surmounted by communion hosts with sheaves of wheat and chalices with bunches of grapes, representing the Eucharist.
The spires completion will make Sagrada Familia the tallest church building in the world as well as the church with the tallest spire in the world. I wish I could have taken pictures that could truly capture how ENORMOUS this thing is. it is like really, really, really huge.
The Nativity façade was built before work was interrupted in 1935 and bears the most direct Gaudí influence. Dedicated to the birth of Jesus, it is decorated with scenes reminiscent of elements of life. Characteristic of Gaudí's naturalistic style, the sculptures are ornately arranged and decorated with scenes and images from nature, each a symbol in their own manner. For instance, the three porticos are separated by two large columns, and at the base of each lies a turtle or a tortoise (one to represent the land and the other the sea; each are symbols of time as something set in stone and unchangeable). In contrast to the figures of turtles and their symbolism, two chameleons can be found at each sides of the façade, and are symbolic of change. The façade faces the rising sun to the northeast, a symbol for the birth of Christ. It is divided into three porticos, each of which represents a theological virtue (Hope, Faith and Charity). The Tree of Life rises above the door of Jesus in the portico of Charity. Four towers complete the façade and are each dedicated to a Saint (Matthias the Apostle, Saint Barnabas, Jude the Apostle, and Simon the Zealot).Gaudí chose this façade to embody the structure and decoration of the whole temple. He knew very well that he would never live to finish the temple and he would need to set an artistic and architectural example for others to follow. He also chose for this façade to be the first to begin construction and for it to be, in his opinion, the most attractive and accessible to the public. He believed that if he had begun construction of the Passion Façade, one that would be hard and bare, as if made with bones, before the Nativity Façade, people would have withdrawn at the sight of it. In contrast to the highly decorated Nativity Façade, the Passion Façade is austere, plain and simple, with ample bare stone, and is carved with harsh straight lines to resemble a skeleton if it were reduced to only bone. Dedicated to the Passion of Christ, the suffering of Jesus during his crucifixion, the façade was intended to portray the sins of man. Construction began in 1954, following the drawings and instructions left by Gaudí. The towers were completed in 1976, and in 1987 a team of sculptors, work sculpting the various scenes and details of the façade. They aimed to give a rigid, angular form to provoke a dramatic effect. Gaudí wanted the Passion façade to strike fear into the onlooker. He wanted dark sharp shadows contrasted by harsh rigid light to really highlight the severity and brutality of Christ's sacrifice.
The largest and most striking of the facades WILL BE the Glory Façade, which began construction in 2002 and is far from being completed. It will be the principal façade and will offer access to the central nave. Dedicated to the Celestial Glory of Jesus, it represents the road to God: Death, Final Judgment, and Glory, while Hell is left for those who deviate from God's will. Gaudi left a sketch of what he wanted it to look like, in general. He intended for the temple, like many cathedrals and facades throughout history, not only to be completed by other architects but also to incorporate other architectural and artistic styles.
To reach the Glory Portico, there will be a large staircase, which will create an underground passage beneath Mallorca Street, representing Hell and vice. It will be decorated with demons, idols, false gods, heresy and schisms, etc. Purgatory and death will also be depicted, the latter using tombs along the ground. The portico will have seven large columns dedicated to spiritual gifts. At the base of the columns there will be representations of the Seven Deadly Sins, and at the top, The Seven Heavenly Virtues.
Themes throughout the decoration include words from the liturgy. The towers are decorated with words such as "Hosanna", "Excelsis", and "Sanctus"; the great doors of the Passion façade reproduce words from the Bible in various languages (including Catalan).
Areas of the sanctuary will be designated to represent various concepts, such as saints, virtues and sins, and secular concepts such as regions, presumably with decoration to match.
Alright, European Vacation followers….this is officially concludes the last of my posts about the travels.