La Sagrada Familia is a breathtaking church
The Sagrada Família is a one-of-a-kind temple for its origins, foundation, and purpose. Fruit of genius architect Antoni Gaudí, the project was promoted by the people for the people. Five generations now have watched the Temple progress in Barcelona. Today, more than 135 years after the laying of the cornerstone, construction continues on the Basilica.
In this post, we have wanted to comment on five points that seem important to us to understand better what this magnificent work of architecture means.
Gaudi neither started the Sagrada Familia nor finished it.
The Sagrada Familia is the only great Temple in the world that is still under construction.
Cathedrals have always taken a long time to build, in some cases a very long time: the Cologne Cathedral (Germany) took 632 to finish; the Milan Cathedral, 577 years; and Westminster Abbey, in London, was built in just 500 years. Other non-religious buildings also took a long time to build, like the Alhambra in Granada, which is calculated to have taken 600 years, and the megalithic monument at Stonehenge (England), which is believed to have taken 1,600 years.
In any case, the era of cathedrals began in the 12th century in a sort of building frenzy that fuelled the growth of medieval cities for three centuries. The phenomenon, however, lasted even longer, and many towns joined in after the initial wave. There was a succession of styles, from Romanesque to neo-Gothic, and we can say that, at its latest, the era of cathedrals lasted until the 19th century. However, there are some isolated cities where it didn’t end until the 20th century, like Barcelona. And that is why the Sagrada Família, which broke ground in the late 19th century, at the tail end of this period, and continued throughout the 20th century, is undoubtedly an exceptional case.
Each cathedral has its history and reasons for building so long, generally lacking funds or donations. In the case of our Temple, however, construction has been ongoing, although the pace of the work has changed. Works only stopped completely from 1936-1939, during the Spanish Civil War, and now, for the second time in over a century, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Gaudí is Buried There
La Sagrada Familia is home to the tomb of Antoni Gaudí, who was unfortunately killed a few days after being hit by a tram.
He is buried in the Crypt of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia. This is an underground level located beneath the apse. It is covered by a large vault in which, at the point where the largest arches meet, there is an outstanding sculpted polychrome image of the Annunciation to Mary.
It also has a central altar with an altarpiece by the sculptor Josep Llimona, and four chapels dedicated to the Virgin of El Carmen (the site of Gaudí’s tomb), Christ, the Virgin of Montserrat, and Christ on the cross (the location of the grave of Josep María Bocabella, who was responsible for the idea of building La Sagrada Familia). A Roman mosaic borders the floor of the crypt with images of wheat and vines.