La Sagrada Familia Church or Cathedral in Barcelona Spain is such an amazing place to visit, and as I have been fortunate enough to do so, I would like to share some interesting facts about this World Heritage Site. I hope it inspires you to one day want to visit, La Sagrada Familia of Barcelona.
My visit to the Sagrada Familia was such an experience, that I was eager to learn about the magnificent structure. I have since discovered more about the history of the Cathedral including why it was built and what Gaudi was trying to achieve. The tireless dedication that Gaudi gave to the project would eventually lead to his unfortunate death, which is a sad story in itself.
I found out about the incredible skills that Gaudi had for the design and construction of the Cathedral. Now I am not usually so interested in architecture but in this case, I think you will be surprised and intrigued. I found out a little about how this Cathedral has been constructed over the course of three centuries. Are you curious about how Gaudi managed to design and build it as far as he did without the technology that we have at our disposal today.? There are some interesting techniques that he used that are so basic that it may surprise you.
The building of the Cathedral and use of interesting construction methods is one thing but seeing how Gaudi had managed to display the spirit and soul of La Sagrada Familia is astonishing. Gaudi has been able to incorporate so many features into the project and still keep the integrity and the purpose of the church, which is to display his love of nature and his love of God.
La Sagrada Familia History
The construction of the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia was started on 18 March 1982 by architect Francisco de Paula del Villar, but after only 1 year he resigned. Gaudi then took over and he was able to make the project his own. He continued to work not stop on the Roman Catholic Cathedral until his untimely death at aged 73 yrs in 1926. At this time, not even a quarter of the building had been completed. This demonstrates the generations of builders and architects that have been involved in bringing this Cathedral together, and it’s not over yet
The construction continues to this day with the aim of completing the project, by 2026, the 100-year anniversary of the death of Gaudi. Unfortunately during the Spanish Civil War in 1936 there was such unrest, that dissidents caused damage to the Cathedral and even worse, was the destruction of Gaudi’s plans and designs. The project was delayed until the 1950s when the designs were able to be re created and the project was restarted.
The funding was initially covered by donations alone which meant that the construction did not go smoothly, but now the funding comes from the constant stream of 4.5 million tourists who flow through the Basilica each year. This will also help to pay the outstanding amount of 41 million Euros that is owed to the City of Barcelona, for building permits that were never paid for during construction.
This money will also help the transport and roading systems around the Cathedral to be upgraded to carry the never ending throngs of people who come to see the Sagrada Familia. It is good to see that the tourists that flock to see the Sagrada Familia are not only enjoying the experience of seeing and learning about the cathedral but they are paying for the completion so it is the perfect arrangement.
La Sagrada Familia will consist of 18 spires when completed. There will be 12 dedicated to the Apostles, 4 to the Evangelists, one to the Virgin Mary and the highest center spire at 170 meters will be dedicated to Jesus.
On 7th November 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the church and the alter of the Sagrada Familia.
If you would like to learn more about La Sagrada Familia then you can check it out here.
La Sagrada Familia Facts
If you don’t want to wait until 2026 to see what the Sagrada Familia will look like when finished. you can watch this very clever computer visualization of the completion of the Sagrada Familia
You may wonder how Gaudi managed to create such an amazing designs and how he constructed the Cathedral without all the computer technology that we have today. Gaudi used basic concepts such as the strength of arches. Gaudi used string to get exact perpendicular lines, and also built the arches’ and curves by hanging string or ropes that he then turned the dimensions up side down. Gaudi was able to create perfect arches’ which are strong enough to hold the vast amounts of weight in the sand stone that is still used today, to complete the build.
Gaudi had a famous quote, that was, “If you want originality then you have to go back to the origin” Gaudi used his great vision to create pillars that resembled palm trees and rib cages. He used the perfect dimensions of nature in his architecture to not only create strength but unbelievable beauty in his designs.
Gaudi did not create very many plans fr his work but preferred to make 3D models and then building on them as things progressed. That is why it was such a tragedy when his models were smashed during the Spanish Civil War.
Antoni Gaudi Facts
Gaudi was born in 1852 and spent a lot of his time in the country side enjoying nature, and this is evident in his works. Gaudi did not enjoy good health and after seeking advice from his Doctor he became a strict vegetarian and followed fasting for long periods of time, sometimes to the detriment of his health.
When Gaudi finally finished his studies and was presented with his Certification as an Architect, he was told by the director of the Barcelona Architect school, ” We have given this academic title either to a fool or to a genius” As it
turned out, it was the latter.
While Gaudi was working on his early projects he was commissioned by a wealthy industrialist, Eusebi Guell, and completed various projects including, the Guell Wine Cellars, the Guell Pavilions, the church of the Colonia Guell, and the well-known and popular attraction Park Guell.
Park Guell was to be an upmarket subdivision for the rich and famous of Barcelona. It is set among park like grounds and has individually designed houses displaying the unique architecture that Gaudi is well-known for. Unfortunately this new subdivision within Barcelona failed to sell any more than one or two houses. The reason for this is that the wealthy families of Barcelona wanted to display their exorbitant wealth and the Park Guell was too far out of town for this ostentatious display to have the desired effect.
Gaudi was badly affected by the death of family members, friends and colleagues and Gaudi stated, “All my good friends are dead; I have no Family and no clients, no fortune, nor anything. Now I can dedicate myself entirely to the Church.”
Gaudi was intensely devoted to God and did not veer away from the project. He did not seem to worry that it would not be completed in his lifetime and when it was pointed out to him that the project would be ongoing for so long, he said, “My client is not in a hurry”
Gaudi was so dedicated to the design and build of the Cathedral that he eventually moved into the workshop a few months before his death in 1926. Gaudi was hit by a tram whilst crossing the road, and the story goes that he decided that the tram should give way to him but this was not to be the case. Because he had been working tirelessly on the cathedral his appearance was a bit disheveled and unkempt. Gaudi was not recognized at the time of the accident, so he was taken to the poor person’s hospital where he did not receive the full care that he might have if he had been recognized. He therefore did not survive the incident and passed away much to the distress of his beloved fans. Gaudi was honored with a large funeral service.
The buildings and creations that were designed and inspired by Gaudi are enjoyed by many visitors to Barcelona each year, including the amazing Sagrada Familia. I hope you can go and enjoy the experience of wandering around inside the Cathedral and seeing the brilliant creations on this iconic, World Heritage Building.
If you are interested in Barcelona, then you will almost certainly enjoy what San Sebastian has to offer. You can get there by taking an enjoyable train ride across to the West Coast of Spain into the Basque Country. You can go straight to my post about my visit here.