Throughout my stay in Barcelona, I have been very fortunate as to the location of my home. I live in Avenida Gaudi, and my metro stop is “Sagrada Familia”. My roommates and I have a huge window in our living room that gives the perfect view of the actual Sagrada Familia. I wake up and look at it everyday, whether I am on my way to class or just staring out the window. I feel very lucky that I am able to take in the beauty of this church every single day, while people from all over the world travel to Barcelona to see this main attraction.
The formal name of this church is Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia, which means in English, “Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family”. It is a Roman Catholic church, which has been under construction since 1882, and still is to this day! The Sagrada Familia was designed by Antoni Gaudi, who worked on the project for over 40 years. Gaudi devoted the last 15 years of his life entirely to the building of the church, and it is scheduled to be completed in 2026 (although this does not seem likely!). Many people have questioned as to why the construction is taking so long. When Gaudi was proposed with this question he would say, “My client is not in a hurry”. After Gaudi passed away in 1926, the work continued under the direction of Domenech Sugranyes.
The Sagrada Familia is an extremely detailed work of art. It is rich with Christian symbolism, because Gaudi intended the church to be the “last great sanctuary of Christendom”. One of the most striking aspects is its spindle-shaped towers. In total there are 18 and they ascend in order of height. Each represents the Twelve Apostles, the four Evangelists, the Virgin Mary, and the tallest of all, Jesus Christ. The church also has three grand facades: the Nativity façade to the East, the Glory façade to the South (yet to be completed) and the Passion façade to the West. The geometry of the Sagrada Familia is a very important aspect of why it is so unique and popular. The towers on the Nativity façade are crowned with geometrically shaped tops that are reminiscint of Cubism. Also, Gaudi used hyperboloid structures in later designs of the church. The reason for all of the construction on the Sagrada Familia is due to the idea of “A New Church”. The idea of a new church was launched by an organization whose goal was to bring an end to the dechristianization of Barcelona, which had started with the industrialization and increasing wealth of the city. A plot of the land in the new Eixample district was bought in 1877, and the architext Francisco de Paula del Villar designed a neo gothic church and lead the construction starting in 1882.
Even though the Sagrada Familia is far from finished, the remarkable church is well worth a visit. You can visit the crypt were Gaudí is buried. A museum tells the story of this great architect andthe history of the church.You can also visit the towers. A lift and a long walk will lead you to the top of a tower from where you have a magnificent view over Barcelona. The climb is not recommended for those with fear of heights or for people with claustrophobia. When my family visited Barcelona, one of the first places I took them to was the Sagrada Familia. Although my mom is very scared of heights, she still climbed it! My family was extremely taken back by its detailed beauty, and we also went inside and climbed to the very top. The view of Barcelona from the top of the Sagrada Familia is also breathtaking, and well worth the trip. Below is a video which includes an interview with my roommate Jillian Shifrin. She speaks about her thoughts on living so close to the Sagrada Familia. People travel from all over the world to see the Sagrada Familia, and to me it is remarkable that my roommates and I get to walk past it every single day.