The evolution of the Sagrada Família in stunning photographs, 1882

Antonio Gaudi began work in 1883 to design a building he originally called the "Church of the Poor". After disagreements between the founding union and the original architect, Gaudí was appointed to lead the project in 1884, and thus created an entirely new design.

Already a well-known architect in Barcelona for his unique designs, Gaudí had something spectacular in mind, which he would eventually acquire. In his later years, he abandoned all secular work and devoted his life to a basilica called La Sagrada Familia, or "Holy Family".

He worked on the project for more than 40 years, devoting the last 15 years of his life entirely to the effort. When asked about the extremely long construction period, Gaudi joked, "My clients are in no hurry."

Along with other artists, he supervised the work until his death on June 7, 1926, when the eminent architect was crushed by a city tram. Due to his torn dress and empty pockets, many drivers refused to take him for fear that he would not be able to pay the fare.

He was eventually taken to a poor hospital in Barcelona. No one recognized the injured Gaudí until a friend found him the next day.

When they tried to take him to a better hospital, Gaudi reportedly refused, saying, "I'm among the poor here." He died two days later and was buried in the crypt beneath his unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia.

The church was originally conceived by Joseph Maria Bocabella, the founder of the Spiritual Union of the Devotees of Saint Joseph, and his desire to promote Catholic values ​​in times of social and religious instability in Spain.

Antonio Gaudi accomplished this purpose by designing a church dedicated to the Holy Family. He wanted the Sagrada Familia to establish a religious bond between the common people and God. Every detail, from the colors to the rich sculptures, all have deep religious symbols.

For the concept of the church, he originally got inspiration from neighboring Montserrat, a famous pilgrimage center perched on a craggy peak. The three façades in the church represent birth, death and resurrection.

Every part of the design is enriched with mystic Christian symbolism, as Gaudí intended the church to be "the last great sanctuary of Christendom".

Perhaps the most striking aspect is the spindle-shaped towers. The finished design featured a total of 18 tall towers, representing the 12 apostles, the four evangelists, the Virgin Mary and—the tallest—Jesus Christ, in ascending order of height.

Construction of the Sagrada Familia progressed slowly and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War. In July 1936, revolutionaries set fire to the crypt and broke their way into the workshop, partially destroying Gaudí's original plans, drawings and plaster models, leading to 16 years to piece together the pieces of the master model. The job was done.

Design Concepts of the Sagrada Familia

The church will have three grand façades: the Façade of the Nativity to the east, the Façade of the Passion to the west, and the Façade of Glory to the south (not yet completed). The Nativity Facade was built before work was interrupted in 1935 and has the most direct Gaudí influence.

The Passion façade was built according to the design that Gaudí had created in 1917. Construction began in 1954, and was finished in 1976, built on the elliptical plan.

It is particularly striking for its extra, lean, tormented characters, including emaciated figures of Christ crucified on pillars; And Christ on the cross. These controversial designs are the work of Josep Maria Subirach.

The majestic façade, on which construction began in 2002, will be the largest and most monumental of the three and will represent an ascension to the Lord. It will also depict various scenes such as Hell, Purgatory, and will include elements such as the Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Heavenly Attributes.

The themes of the decoration throughout include the words of the Liturgy. The stairs are decorated with words such as "hosanna", "excelsis" and "sanctus"; The Great Doors of the Passion Façade reproduce passages of the Passion of Jesus from the New Testament, in various languages, mainly Catalan.

The majestic façade is to be decorated with the words of the Apostles' Creed, while its main entrance reproduces the entire Lord's Prayer in Catalan, surrounded by several forms of "Give us this day our daily bread" in other languages. .

The three gateways symbolize three virtues: faith, hope and love. Each of them is also dedicated to a part of the life of Christ. The front of the birth is dedicated to his birth; It also has a cypress tree which symbolizes the tree of life.

The Mahima façade is dedicated to his glory period. The Passion façade is a symbol of their suffering. The apse steeple contains the Latin text of the Hail Mary. Overall, the Sagrada Familia symbolizes the lifetime of Christ.

Art historian Nicolas Pevsner, writing in the 1960s, referred to Gaudí's buildings as rising "like sugar loaves and anthills" and described the decoration of the buildings with pieces of broken pottery as possibly "in bad taste". Done as it is, but handled with vitality and "brutal audacity". ,

The design of the building itself is polarizing. Appraisals by Gaudí's fellow architects were generally positive; It was highly praised by Louis Sullivan, describing the Sagrada Familia as "the greatest piece of Constructivist architecture in the last twenty-five years". This is the spirit embodied in stone!"

Walter Gropius praised the Sagrada Familia, describing the building's walls as a "miracle of technical perfection". Time magazine called it "sensual, spiritual, eccentric, exuberant".

Although author and critic George Orwell called it "one of the most eerie buildings in the world", author James A. Michener called it "one of the strangest looking grave buildings in the world" and British historian Gerald Brennan said of the building. "No one can be so vulgar or pretentious even in European architecture of this period."

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