Epic, as an adjective, is often over-used. Epic is defined as grand, impressive, remarkable. But when you are talking about the Basilica de La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, epic doesn’t seem to do it justice. It really is something you need to see in person. Your travel advisors at GetAway Travel have been there and we can truly attest to the fact that it is grand, impressive, remarkable and, yes, an epic example of architecture and spirituality. We can help you plan your adventure to Spain with a stop at Sagrada Familia.
Construction began in 1882
Architect Francisco de Paula del Villar was the original architect and he resigned in 1883 and Antonio Gaudi took over. It is the largest unfinished Catholic Church in the world, one of the oldest buildings in the world still under construction and the tallest religious building in Europe. It is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic examples of Gaudi’s work. It combines architectural elements that pay homage to nature, Art Nouveau, Catalan Modernism and Spanish Late Gothic. It draws more than four million visitors each year.
Gaudi wanted to make Sagrada Familia the tallest building in Barcelona. He believed nothing made by man should eclipse what God created in nature, so the finished center tower is about 558 feet tall, a little less than three feet shorter than Montjuïc Mountain in Barcelona. Sagrada Familia started off as a church, became a cathedral but is now a basilica. A cathedral is the seat of a bishop, but a basilica is a church recognized by the pope as being highly important based on cultural or historical significance.
In the early years of construction, Gaudi built a school for the children of construction workers. He also honored construction workers by embedding their faces in sculptures and carvings around the basilica. And, Gaudi’s face is in at least two areas that were completed before his death. He is portrayed as St. Joseph in the Nativity façade and St. John in the Passion façade.
UNESCO, despite it being a work in progress, designated it a World Heritage site in 1984 and in 2005, the Nativity façade and Sagrada Familia crypt were also declared World Heritage sites.
All design aspects serve a purpose
Gaudi’s designs, inspired by nature, contain no completely straight lines or 90-degree angles. His style is fluid and each detail of the basilica is highly symbolic, including the set-up of the outside area. His plans indicate he was inspired by tales from architects of medieval times who saw churches as central figures of a population area. Churches were meeting places and meant to be a guide to those who were arriving.
But Gaudi didn’t want just one spire pointing to the sky, he wanted 18! Eleven spires are done The hollow spires with their accent holes are meant to resemble a bee hive and they illuminate the basilica with sunlight and moonlight.