Skip to content
13 September 2017 / leggypeggy

Sagrada Familia—brighter spot in a month of disasters

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia dominates the cityscape in Barcelona

Sagrada Familia Nativity façade

The sweeping Sagrada Familia

The last month has brought disaster, destruction and death across the world.

Mother Nature has unleashed her fury in North America, savaging Mexico, Texas, the Caribbean and Florida. More than 90 have died from the earthquake near Mexico, In the US and Caribbean, the death toll currently stands at less than 50, but hundreds are missing and islands such as Barbuda have been pretty much destroyed. More than five million Floridians were ordered to evacuate. Some have been able to return home, only to find ruin, mud and no power. 

Asia is in worse shape with more than 1200 dead because of floods in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. The rains started a month ago and have affected more than 41 million people. Villages across the three countries remain submerged. News coverage has been limited. And the poor Rohingya are desperately fleeing dangerous Myanmar to drenched Bangladesh.

Twelve days ago Terry, a dear online friend, lost his battle with cancer. Check out his website for his inspirational cancer journey!

Last Friday, Connie Johnson died in Canberra after a lengthy battle with her cancers. Many of you would never have heard of our Connie, but she will be remembered by many across Australia. Along with a group of like-minded volunteers, Connie and her brother, actor Samuel Johnson, have raised almost $6 million towards cancer research. You can read a bit more about Connie and Love Your Sister here and here.

Sagrada Familia interior

The interior is bathed in light. The 12-sided columns are made of porphyry, an igneous rock

And less than four weeks ago there was the horrendous terrorist attack in Barcelona, Spain.

That’s where I’m going today. Poor John and I were in Barcelona just two years ago. We walked down the famous Las Ramblas (site of that ruthless terrorist attack) several times and enjoyed touring the amazing market there.

We also visited Barcelona’s magnificent basilica—the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, or more simply known as the Sagrada Família.

I bring this up now because the terrorists who carried out the drive-by slaughter on Las Ramblas had planned to set off a bomb at the Sagrada Família. That plan changed after the bomb they were building went off prematurely—in the home in which they were building it.

Construction at Sagrada Familia

When complete, the Sagrada Familia will have 18 towers

It’s incredible to think the basilica might have been bombed.

Sagrada Familia has been under construction for 135 years. When you’re inside, it’s easy to think it’s completed, but outside the ongoing construction is completely obvious.

Over the next decade or so, six new spires will be added to this amazing Roman Catholic basilica, bringing the total to 18 and finishing—at long last—the work begun by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí in the late 19th century.

Construction on Sagrada Familia started in 1882 under architect Francisco Paula de Villar. He resigned the next year and Gaudi took over as chief architect, transforming the project with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí envisioned a soaring visual narrative of Christ’s life.

Sagrada Familia dated

Construction on the Sagrada Familia began in 1882

But even then Gaudi realised the massive project would not be completed in his lifetime. So for more than 12 years prior to his death at age 73, he rendered his plans as three-dimensional models rather than as conventional drawings. Though many were destroyed by vandals during the Spanish Civil War, those geometric models have been vital to Gaudí’s successors.

That’s a good thing because over the years, the construction has been interrupted by the Spanish Civil War and a chronic lack of funds. It helps that Gaudi wasn’t really concerned about the slow progress of the basilica’s construction. He is said to have remarked, “My client [God] is not in a hurry.’

It’s impossible to say how much money has been spent on the prolonged construction over the years. Today the annual budget is reportedly $27 million, paid for partially by visitor entrance fees and private donations.

Sagrada Familia door

The centre of this door has the entire Paternoster in Catalan. The two sides have the phrase ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ in 50 languages

Speaking of visitor entrance fees, we should have booked online. Instead one morning, we stood in line for about 90 minutes to buy entrance tickets for a visiting slot that would come up after lunch. That worked out okay because we strolled around the local area and grabbed some lunch while we waited for our turn.

We returned to circle the building and then stand in the queue. It gave us a great chance to observe the intricate exterior and ongoing construction. Our best views were of the main facade (depicting the nativity) and the towers and cranes hovering overhead.

I wish I had read more about the exterior before visiting because I would have been looking for certain sculptures I’ve read about since then. That said, I might have looked in vain because building works obscured some of the facade.

Sagrada Familia Nativity façade

The ornate Nativity Façade

It is worth mentioning that when complete, the basilica will have three ornate façades—Nativity, the Passion and Glory.

Nativity, also called the birth of Christ, was completed in the 1930s. I’ve read that Gaudi originally intended for this façade to be multi-coloured with every statue and figure to be painted. I’m not sure my eyes could have coped with that!

Gaudi wanted Passion, also called the suffering way, to be austere and harsh so it would strike fear into the onlooker. Spires for this façade were completed in 1976 and work on the sculptures began in 1987.

Glory is to be the largest and most striking of the façades. Work on it began in 2002 and is likely to take another decade to complete.

Sagrada Familia interior

It’s easy to see how 6500 could attend the basilica’s consecration in 2010

Sagrada Familia ceiling

Looking up in the Sagrada Familia

But let’s go inside the enormous space that is filled with columns representing trees and stained glass windows that allow colourful light to flood in. I can’t find a count on either, but there are four kinds of columns—six-sided ones made of sandstone, eight-sided ones made of granite, 10-sided ones made of  basalt and 12-sides ones made of porphyry.

With the apse capped by a hyperboloid vault that reaches 75 metres (250 feet), you feel as if you are walking through an ancient fantasy forest.

Sagrada Familia organ pipes

Just a few of the organ’s 1492 pipes

The main nave was covered and an organ installed in mid-2010, allowing the still-unfinished building to be used for religious services. Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the church that year in front of a congregation of 6500, with another 50,000 watching the Mass from outside where more than 100 bishops and 300 priests were on hand to offer Holy Communion.

And just a quick comment about the organ. It currently has 1492 pipes. There are plans to add additional organs (to accommodate acoustics) with a total of 8000 pipes.

I could go on and on and on about Sagrada Familia’s beauty and intricacy, but I’ll let the pics do the work and urge you to search online for more information.

This post got so long, that I’ll do a separate post on Gaudi himself. I’ll be heading back to African posts soon. I’ve been held up a bit by cataract surgery. My vision is rather wonky until my eyes settle enough and I can get new glasses.

Sagrada Familia crucifix

A new approach to the crucifix

Sagrada Familia

A distant view of the altar, crucifix and some of the organ pipes

74 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. Almost Iowa / Sep 13 2017 12:15 am

    Sagrada Familia is an amazing structure and you have done an amazing job of writing about it. I have seen photos of the exterior but never the interior. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 13 2017 7:41 am

      Thanks so much for stopping by. Like you, I had not seen the interior before.

      Like

  2. Mama Cormier / Sep 13 2017 12:20 am

    What an amazing building. I’ve never seen this type of finish on the front of any church. It looks like the building is melting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 13 2017 7:45 am

      It is the most ornate exterior I have ever seen, and loaded with symbolism. For example, the 18 spires represent Christ, the Virgin Mary, the Twelve Apostles, the four Evangelists and more.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. poshbirdy / Sep 13 2017 12:23 am

    The world seems to be a very difficult place right now for so many. Thank you for sharing these lovely pics. I’ll be there at la Sagrada Familia myself this weekend for the first time in over 18 years, so very much looking forward to it, and this post got the juices going x

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 13 2017 7:52 am

      I’ll be interested to hear if you think it has changed a lot—inside or out. Please take all the photos I missed taking. It’s all just so overwhelming.

      Like

  4. Vicki / Sep 13 2017 12:30 am

    What an amazing building.
    I can well imagine it taking over 135 years to complete.

    The world is in a sad place at the moment.
    (People denying the effects of Global Warming should be reconsidering the whole idea of the effect on the Planet).

    Hope you recover from your cataract surgery quickly. Rest your eyes as much as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 13 2017 7:54 am

      I look at the photos now and think ‘how little I snapped, how little I actually captured’. It is such an extraordinary structure. So glad it didn’t become a victim.
      And the best thing I’ve done for my eyes is to start wearing sunglasses.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jeanne / Sep 13 2017 12:36 am

    Stunning photos and an enlightening post…wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 15 2017 7:43 am

      Thanks so very much. So glad you stopped by and commented.

      Like

  6. Robert Parker / Sep 13 2017 1:16 am

    An amazing place, the scale and intricacy are almost overwhelming; 8,000 organ pipes, wow. “Ancient fantasy forest” is very apt. Parts of it look so festive, and others awe-inspiring. Then seeing very traditional-looking elements, like the three Magi, incorporated into a facade that’s like elaborate foliage on a sand castle, takes a minute to adjust. Just amazing.
    Some people pouring themselves into a labor of love on an incredible work of art and maybe faith, for 135 years, and others always blowing things up, whether 1936 or now.
    This is a terrific post, thank you, I’ll read it again when I’m home.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 13 2017 8:02 am

      Thanks so much. I really like your description; it does remind me of an elaborate sand castle. Amazing to think that Gaudi envisioned all this and then built models as guides.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Midlife Dramas in Pyjamas / Sep 13 2017 1:20 am

    I visited Barcelona on a girls’ 40th birthday weekend…what a beautiful city! And this building is absolutely stunning 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. dfolstad58 / Sep 13 2017 1:46 am

    Lengthy post but enjoyed all the comments and photos. I miss Terry also. I had cataract surgery 20 years ago, it heals quickly! Such a lovely church, it is totally beyond my understanding why anyone would attack it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 13 2017 8:04 am

      This post really is for Terry and Connie Johnson. I felt I had to mark their deaths with something inspiring.
      The eyes are coming along nicely, but the vision isn’t perfect and the old glasses make it worse. Just another 10 days or so.

      Like

  9. IreneDesign2011 / Sep 13 2017 2:11 am

    Take good care for yourself and get lots of rest, while you recover yourself 🙂
    You got some great photos from Barcelona. About the bombing, I live around 12 km from where, their house did explode. Maybe I heard it, but there have been so much firework here, so something extra did not make a difference in sound, but absolutely in act. It came too close this time and poor people, who were involved the other places.
    Our world needs so much attention about the Global Warming and that we take care of our mutual environment, before it seriously becomes too late.

    Liked by 2 people

    • leggypeggy / Sep 13 2017 8:10 am

      Oh my gosh, I hadn’t realised you were in Barcelona. Although I’m not glad a house exploded near you, I am glad that one exploded before the contents could do damage to La Sagrada Familia and people visiting it.
      And yes, we need to take so much better care of our planet. It would be great if more people recognised the importance. My eyes are doing well. 🙂

      Like

      • IreneDesign2011 / Sep 13 2017 9:30 am

        Good to hear, that your eyes are doing well, Peggy.
        The gas explosion didn’t happen in Barcelona, but in Alcanar, which is very close to me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Sep 13 2017 11:12 am

        Thanks for that clarification Irene. I knew it was in Alcanar, but I didn’t know you were in Spain.

        Like

  10. Andrew Petcher / Sep 13 2017 2:53 am

    It is a beauty I agree. I read that the Catholic church don’t fund it because it already had a cathedral in Barcelona and never asked Gaudi to build another.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 13 2017 8:15 am

      You’re right. Gaudi never meant for it to be a cathedral (seat of a bishop). I suspect he thought that as a basilica, he would maintain control over the design. I find it interested that someone else started it to begin with. The basilica was the inspiration of a bookseller, Josep Maria Bocabella, founder of Asociación Espiritual de Devotos de San José (Spiritual Association of Devotees of St. Joseph). He visited the Vatican in 1872 and saw a church that he wanted to ‘copy’.

      Like

  11. Dippy-Dotty Girl / Sep 13 2017 3:09 am

    Beautiful photos and Gaudi was something else, wasn’t he? It is such heresy to even think of destroying such architectural gems and I am glad that horrid plot was foiled.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 13 2017 8:16 am

      Gaudi was a genius. We visited several of his creations and also a museum about his work. More soon. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dippy-Dotty Girl / Sep 13 2017 12:16 pm

        Looking forward to it. I would have loved to meet him, you know. It has always been a thought in my mind. One that shall remain unfulfilled but well…

        Liked by 1 person

      • leggypeggy / Sep 13 2017 10:28 pm

        Oh my, you describe one of those times when we’d like to invite six or seven people to our dinner table. Gaudi would be an amazing choice. Can I come too? 🙂

        Like

  12. lexklein / Sep 13 2017 4:49 am

    I think it’s been over 10 years since I’ve been in there, and I’d love to see what has been added since then. Your lead-in with all the disasters almost made me want to go to church … at least an architecturally interesting one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 13 2017 8:17 am

      Glad I could ‘take’ you to an architecturally interesting church. I hope you get to visit again soon and let us know what changes you see.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. theunassuminghiker / Sep 13 2017 5:56 am

    So glad they were unsuccessful in destroying this beautiful structure! Between terrorists and mother nature – we are in a sorry state right now. But I think brighter days are ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. paolsoren / Sep 13 2017 7:30 am

    It is magnificent. Thanks for another great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. gerard oosterman / Sep 13 2017 7:47 am

    A little light and good cheer by this beautiful post, Peggy. It is needed with all the doom and gloom. Thank you. I love all Gaudi’s work.
    ( I just hope those evil terrorists stay away from our much loved big banana at Coff’s Harbour) We drove past it a few days ago on the way home from the warm North of Byron Bay. It looked stunning, all yellow and mellow in its magnificent innocence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 13 2017 8:19 am

      I love Gaudi’s work too. We didn’t see everything he did in Barcelona (not enough time), but I’ll be sharing more here. We need more whimsy these days. The Big Banana is a good example.

      Like

  16. Brian Lageose / Sep 13 2017 7:50 am

    Terrific post, stunning images and somber reflection. We’ll be heading to Spain again next year, and I believe we’ll me making a side-trip that no one in our party knows about yet…

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 13 2017 8:20 am

      Thank you Brian. Yes, you need to take over as trip planner for this one.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. weggieboy / Sep 13 2017 9:32 am

    Unimaginable…. Thanks for the interior view, which, like others, is new to me, Peggy!

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 13 2017 11:13 am

      Nice to share something new with people. I was thinking everyone might have seen this place way too many times.

      Like

  18. lulu / Sep 13 2017 10:18 am

    A fascinating place, but it would be nice to see it without all the scaffolding, cranes, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. afterthelasttime / Sep 13 2017 11:45 am

    Terrific photos as always, Peggy! When a ski buddy, Carlos, and I toured a chunk of Europe in late Summer 1991 there are countless great memories with Gaudi’s cathedral one of the absolute best! Your reference of the internal columns representing trees brings back the incredible impression they must leave with all visitors, Gaudi’s had to have been a nature lover at heart!
    From my memory I don’t remember an entrance fee however Carlos may have paid while my head was constantly gawking skyward so impressed with the mind of this massive and most impressive masterpiece! Imagine his creating even the beginings of this unique design in 1882 and what not only the local parishioners thoughts were but in addition Rome’s? Wow! And to think he got away with such a design that would be even difficult by today’s world.
    We arrived late at the Barcelona main train station due to a machinery (changed the gauge of our train to the wider Spain gauge) break down at the border with France. This was leading up to the Barcelona Olympics and I was struck by the beauty of the station architecture along with a cleanliness that would allow you to eat directly off the floor!
    Thank you so much for the terrific update! From my memory the largest spire by far is to be added at the very end and will dwarf those constructed to date.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 13 2017 12:11 pm

      Wow, Dave, thanks so much for sharing your memory of visiting this incredible basilica. What an amazing time it would have been to be there—with the Olympics on the way.
      We arrived by car so didn’t have the luxury of seeing the train station. Next time! 🙂
      And yes, you’re right about the last and biggest spire. It will represent Jesus.

      Like

  20. jeanettev2014 / Sep 13 2017 4:33 pm

    Lovely thank you !

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 13 2017 10:28 pm

      My pleasure. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      Like

  21. Dave Ply / Sep 14 2017 7:09 am

    I last saw la Sagrada Familia back in 1980. At that point it didn’t have an interior or any sort of roof, just the walls and some of the pillars. It’s come a long way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 14 2017 8:57 am

      Oh wow, I hope you get the chance to revisit it. The changes would be overwhelming.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. Alison and Don / Sep 14 2017 9:46 am

    Wonderful post Peggy. I always love a visit to the magnificent Sagrada Familiar. I first heard of it probably about 50 years ago when I learned about Gaudi and his extraordinary work, and really wanted to see it. I’m glad life led me down different paths and I didn’t get there until late 2011 by which time the interior was finished. It’s one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to. I think there is nothing compares to it. Gaudi was a genius.
    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 14 2017 9:26 pm

      Gaudi was a complete genius. Wonderful that Barcelona has him as their local hero.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Chris Riley / Sep 14 2017 12:25 pm

    A ‘wow’ post from so many sides. 41 million people effected by the floods in Asia – wow, that’s way more than the total population of Australia – how awful. And ‘wow’ that sweeping facade of the Sagrada Familiar, and ‘wow’ thank goodness it’s still standing. I never cease but amazed when I see such grandeur, not only at the amazing and intricate detail that goes into the design and building of such places, but also at the power of the church to facilitate the building of such places.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 14 2017 9:28 pm

      So glad you enjoyed this post. I’ll be posting a few more examples of Gaudi’s work. His work is breathtaking.

      Like

  24. Invisibly Me / Sep 14 2017 4:14 pm

    I’m so sorry about Terry, and it’s shocking as you say that this place could have been bombed. So many years under construction, so much effort, so much beauty. I visited Barcelona about 3 months ago for a day trip from Salou where I was staying, and although I didn’t go inside, the outside itself was truly stunning. You have some beautiful photographs. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 14 2017 9:29 pm

      Thanks so much. I hope you can return someday to see the interior in person.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Curt Mekemson / Sep 15 2017 5:14 am

    I was moved by Sagrada Familia, Peggy. It is truly a sacred place of beauty, a worthy successor to the Cathedrals that were created during the Middle Ages (and talk about long building periods). How tragic it would have been to have it bombed, as if all of the natural disasters we are facing now aren’t enough that we have to create our own. (Of course we also partially responsible for the natural disasters, given our aid to global warming.) Thanks for the reminders of our time in Barcelona. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 15 2017 7:46 am

      You are very welcome Curt. We loved Barcelona in general and Gaudi’s work in particular. I feel the need to return.

      Like

  26. Lynz Real Cooking / Sep 15 2017 7:39 am

    This is amazing! Thank you for these photos and this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  27. kkessler833 / Sep 15 2017 8:19 am

    Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

  28. Brenda / Sep 15 2017 11:04 pm

    It’s amazing to me that Gaudi’s vision was actually brought to life. So many people oppose architecture or art that is different than what they are used to seeing, this dream-like sand castle must have come as a shock. Lovely photos Peggy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 16 2017 12:29 pm

      Barcelona is so proud of Gaudi and that must explain some of the reason his visions were followed. He really is their hero, rather than some star of film, sport or music.

      Liked by 1 person

  29. Author: Sadaf Siddiqi / Sep 16 2017 5:26 pm

    Interesting read, bombing part is shocking though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 16 2017 9:33 pm

      Oh yes, the prospect of it being bombed is horrifying.

      Like

  30. Dreamtemples / Sep 17 2017 1:49 pm

    Hoping that you recover soon from your eye surgery, peggy. You still took time to like my post! Thanks so much.
    Sheela.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 17 2017 10:42 pm

      My eye is improving slowly. I have an appointment with the doc tomorrow, so will know more then. Thanks so much for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  31. jeanleesworld / Sep 18 2017 4:55 am

    Thank you for this piece of hope and light in an otherwise dark time. I love that line: My client is not in a hurry. 🙂 So many churches do rush and cut corners, but clearly, this church is out to reach souls both in heaven and on the earth. Those carvings are breathtaking; I can only imagine what such sights are like in person! xxxxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 18 2017 8:28 pm

      Thanks so much Jean. This is such a wonderful structure—whether religious or otherwise. I think it reaches and touches us all on some level. Hope you can see this place one day.

      Liked by 1 person

  32. Oh, the Places We See / Sep 18 2017 11:06 pm

    Found your blog via Curt Mekemson’s blog — and so glad I did. These photos are astounding as is your copy. Now, I really want to visit Barcelona to see Sagrada Familia.

    Liked by 1 person

    • leggypeggy / Sep 19 2017 12:04 pm

      Thanks so much for finding your way here and for commenting. Hope you get to Barcelona soon. Well worth a visit.

      Liked by 1 person

  33. chattykerry / Sep 23 2017 6:30 am

    It is astonishingly beautiful. Breathtaking.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: