La Sagrada Familia is one of the world’s longest-lasting architectural projects, begun all the way back in 1882!
Construction was initially begun by an architect called Francisco de Paula del Villar, who had a fairly standard Gothic Revival design in mind for the project. The legendary Antoni Gaudi took over the building just one year later in 1883.
It was Gaudi who would go on to radically change the designs, stamping his unmistakable mark on a building that would become one of the most distinctive and groundbreaking in the history of modern architecture.
The forecasted Sagrada Familia finish date has been postponed time and time again over the course of its construction. Gaudi famously said back in 1922 when asked when it would be completed, “my client isn’t in a hurry”. He considered his client to be God, as he was a deeply Catholic man.
In the 50s, construction was back on track. Since then things have sped up due to breakthroughs in technology and of course, more funding due to ticketed entry fees. The halfway mark was declared in 2010, which is the same year that the church was officially consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI, who then proclaimed it a basilica.
However, there is still a long way to go before Gaudi’s vision for the completed building is realized and ten more spires remain to be built. Hopes are that it will finally be completed in 2026, on the centenary of Gaudi’s death.
Despite being unfinished, this extraordinary global landmark is truly a sight to behold. Every element of the Sagrada cathedral is deeply symbolic and a proper analysis of the curves, shapes, and designs could go on forever!
There are three different facades – the Nativity side facing east, the Glory facade facing south, and the Passion facade to the west. Walking around La Sagrada Familia church, it can feel like looking at three completely different buildings.
Antoni Gaudi himself is probably the most famous person in Barcelona’s recent history. Today, his legacy is still considered cutting-edge and revolutionary, and his designs have become attractions that pull millions of tourists each year.
Gaudi was a Catalan architect who was a pioneer of Modernisme or Catalan Modernism (Barcelona’s version of Art Nouveau). His style was totally unique, and he constantly pushed against the boundaries of the traditional.
His iconic works often drew from Baroque, Neoclassical and Gothic architecture, all the while defying convention and surprising the world.
He was born in 1852, and from a young age spent a lot of time immersed in nature. There’s no doubt that this had an effect on his work later in life, as he developed a free-flowing organic style very much inspired by the natural world.
He observed that the harsh geometric lines, triangles, squares and perfect circles that were everywhere in previous architecture were rarely found in nature. So Gaudi determined to create a new type of architecture, based on the curved lines of nature instead. This curvilinear technique is a staple feature of Gaudi’s designs.
Another key influence for Gaudi was religion. He was an incredibly pious man and pretty much everything he designed held some sort of religious symbolism or weight. He saw his buildings as a means to communicate the Christian message.
For him, la Sagrada Familia was his great work, his magnum opus, and he devoted the majority of his life to its design and construction. After his tragic death in 1926 (aged 73) when he was struck by a tram as he made his way through his beloved city, his body was buried in the crypt of la Sagrada Familia itself. At this point, the basilica was only a quarter finished!
It’s not just the famous basilica of la Sagrada Familia that Gaudi left behind, however. His mark is everywhere in the city, from the Park Güell to the iconic buildings La Pedrera and Casa Batllo.