Sagrada Família in Barcelona
The ' (; , ), commonly known as the Sagrada Família', is a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). Although incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site,
Though construction of Sagrada Família had commenced in 1882, Gaudí became involved in 1883,
Describing Sagrada Familia, art Critic Rainer Zerbst said "it is probably impossible to find a church building anything like it in the entire history of art" and Paul Goldberger called it 'the most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages'.
The Basilica of the Sagrada Família was the inspiration of a Catalan bookseller, Josep Maria Bocabella, founder of Asociación Espiritual de Devotos de San José (Spiritual Association of Devotees of St. Joseph). After a visit to the Vatican in 1872, Bocabella returned from Italy with the intention of building a church inspired by that at Loreto. After Gaudí's death, work continued under the direction of Domènec Sugrañes i Gras until interrupted by the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Parts of the unfinished basilica and Gaudí's models and workshop were destroyed during the war by Catalan anarchists. The present design is based on reconstructed versions of the lost plans as well as on modern adaptations. Since 1940 the architects Francesc Quintana, Isidre Puig Boada, Lluís Bonet i Gari and Francesc Cardoner have carried on the work. The illumination was designed by Carles Buigas. The current director and son of Lluís Bonet, Jordi Bonet i Armengol, has been introducing computers into the design and construction process since the 1980s. Mark Burry of New Zealand serves as Executive Architect and Researcher. Sculptures by J. Busquets, Etsuro Sotoo and the controversial Josep Subirachs decorate the fantastical façades.
The central nave vaulting was completed in 2000 and the main tasks since then have been the construction of the transept vaults and apse. As of 2006, work concentrated on the crossing and supporting structure for the main tower of Jesus Christ as well as the southern enclosure of the central nave, which will become the Glory façade.
One projection anticipates construction completion around 2026, the centennial of Gaudí's death—while the project's information leaflet estimates a completion date in 2028, accelerated by additional funding from visitors to Barcelona following the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Computer-aided design technology has been used to accelerate construction of the building, which had previously been expected to last for several hundred years, based on building techniques available in the early 20th century. Current technology allows stone to be shaped off-site by a CNC milling machine, whereas in the 20th century, the stone was carved by hand.
In 2008, some renowned Catalan architects advocated a halt to construction, to respect Gaudí's original designs, which, although they were not exhaustive and were partially destroyed, have been partially reconstructed in recent years.
On 26 March 2010, the Ministry of Public Works of Spain (Ministerio de Fomento) began constructing an AVE (high-speed train) tunnel beneath the center of Barcelona, saying the project poses no risk to the church.
The main nave was covered and an organ installed in mid-2010, allowing the still unfinished building to be used for religious services. The church was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI on 7 November 2010 in front of a congregation of 6,500 people, including King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain. A further 50,000 people followed the consecration Mass from outside the basilica, where more than 100 bishops and 300 priests were on hand to offer Holy Communion.
On 19 April 2011, an arsonist started a small fire in the sacristy which forced the evacuation of tourists and construction workers, but caused minimal damage. The sacristy itself, however, was destroyed by the fire, which took 45 minutes to contain.
The style of la Sagrada Familia is variously likened to Spanish Late Gothic, Catalan Modernism and to Art Nouveau or Catalan Noucentisme. While the Sagrada Família falls within the Art Nouveau period, Nikolaus Pevsner points out that, along with Charles Rennie Macintosh in Glasgow, Gaudí carried the Art Nouveau style far beyond its usual application as a surface decoration. The lowest level depicts scenes from Jesus' last night before the crucifixion, including The Last Supper, Kiss of Judas, Ecce Homo, and the Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus. The middle level portrays the Calvary, or Golgotha, of Christ, and includes The Three Marys, Saint Veronica, and Saint Longinus. In the third and final level the Death, Burial and the Resurrection of Christ can be seen. A bronze figure situated on a bridge creating a link between the towers of Saint Bartholomew and Saint Thomas represents the Ascension of Jesus.
The largest and most striking of the facades will be the Glory Façade, on which construction began in 2002. It will be the principal façade and will offer access to the central nave. Dedicated to the Celestial Glory of Jesus, it represents the road to God: Death, Final Judgment, and Glory, while Hell is left for those who deviate from God's will. Aware that he would not live long enough to see this façade completed, Gaudí made only a general sketch of what the façade would look like. He intended for the temple, like many cathedrals and facades throughout history, not only to be completed by other architects but also to incorporate other architectural and artistic styles.
To reach the Glory Portico, there will be a large staircase, which will create an underground passage beneath Carrer Mallorca, representing Hell and vice. It will be decorated with demons, idols, false gods, heresy and schisms, etc. Purgatory and death will also be depicted, the latter using tombs along the ground. The portico will have seven large columns dedicated to spiritual gifts. At the base of the columns there will be representations of the Seven Deadly Sins, and at the top, The Seven Heavenly Virtues.
The church plan is that of a Latin cross with five aisles. The central nave vaults reach forty-five metres while the side nave vaults reach thirty metres. The transept has three aisles. The columns are on a 7.5 metre grid. However, the columns of the apse, resting on del Villar's foundation, do not adhere to the grid, requiring a section of columns of the ambulatory to transition to the grid thus creating a horseshoe pattern to the layout of those columns. The crossing rests on the four central columns of porphyry supporting a great hyperboloid surrounded by two rings of twelve hyperboloids (currently under construction). The central vault reaches sixty metres. The apse is capped by a hyperboloid vault reaching seventy-five metres. Gaudí intended that a visitor standing at the main entrance be able to see the vaults of the nave, crossing, and apse, thus the graduated increase in vault loftiness.
There are gaps in the floor of the apse, providing a view down into the crypt below.
The columns of the interior are a unique Gaudí design. Besides branching to support their load, their ever-changing surfaces are the result of the intersection of various geometric forms. The simplest example is that of a square base evolving into an octagon as the column rises, then a sixteen-sided form, and eventually to a circle. This effect is the result of a three-dimensional intersection of helicoidal columns (for example a square cross-section column twisting clockwise and a similar one twisting counter-clockwise).
Essentially none of the interior surfaces are flat; the ornamentation is comprehensive and rich, consisting in large part of abstract shapes which combine smooth curves and jagged points. Even detail-level work such as the iron railings for balconies and stairways are full of curvaceous elaboration.
In 2010 an organ was installed in the presbytery by the Blancafort Orgueners de Montserrat organ builders. The instrument has 26 stops (1,492 pipes) on two manuals and a pedalboard.
- Couplers: II/I, I/P, II/P
To overcome the unique acoustical challenges posed by the church's architecture and vast size, several additional organs will be installed at various points within the building. These instruments will be playable separately (from their own individual consoles) and simultaneously (from a single mobile console), yielding an organ of some 8000 pipes when completed.
The towers on the Nativity façade are crowned with geometrically shaped tops that are reminiscent of Cubism (they were finished around 1930), and the intricate decoration is contemporary to the style of Art Nouveau, but Gaudí's unique style drew primarily from nature, not other artists or architects, and resists categorization.
Gaudí used hyperboloid structures in later designs of the Sagrada Família (more obviously after 1914), however there are a few places on the nativity façade—a design not equated with Gaudí's ruled-surface design—where the hyperboloid crops up. For example, all around the scene with the pelican there are numerous examples (including the basket held by one of the figures). There is a hyperboloid adding structural stability to the cypress tree (by connecting it to the bridge). And finally, the "bishop's mitre" spires are capped with hyperboloid structures. In his later designs, ruled surfaces are prominent in the nave's vaults and windows and the surfaces of the Passion facade.
Themes throughout the decoration include words from the liturgy. The towers are decorated with words such as "Hosanna", "Excelsis", and "Sanctus"; the great doors of the Passion façade reproduce words from the Bible in various languages including Catalan; and the Glory façade is to be decorated with the words from the Apostles' Creed. The three entrances symbolize the three virtues: Faith, Hope and Love. Each of them is also dedicated to a part of Christ's life. The Nativity Façade is dedicated to his birth; it also has a cypress tree which symbolizes the tree of life. The Glory façade is dedicated to his glory period. The Passion façade is symbolic of his suffering. All in all, the Sagrada de Família is symbolic of the lifetime of Christ.
Areas of the sanctuary will be designated to represent various concepts, such as saints, virtues and sins, and secular concepts such as regions, presumably with decoration to match.
- Antoni Gaudí
Nikolaus Pevsner, writing in the 1960s, referred to Gaudi's buildings as growing "like sugar loaves and anthills" and describes the ornamenting of buildings with shards of broken pottery as possibly "bad taste" but handled with vitality and "ruthless audacity".
The building's design itself has been polarizing. While Time Magazine called it 'sensual, spiritual, whimsical, exuberant' —George Orwell called it 'one of the most hideous buildings in the world' and James A. Michener called it "one of the strangest-looking serious buildings in the world". The building's distinctive silhouette has nevertheless become symbolic of Barcelona itself, drawing an estimated 2.5 million visitors annually.
World Heritage status
With six other Gaudi buildings in Barcelona, la Sagrada Familia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as testifying "to Gaudí’s exceptional creative contribution to the development of architecture and building technology", "having represented el Modernisme of Catalonia" and "anticipated and influenced many of the forms and techniques that were relevant to the development of modern construction in the 20th century."
Visitors can access the Nave, Crypt, Museum, Shop, and the Passion and Nativity towers. While visitors could previously access the towers directly at no cost, their access is possible only by lift and a walk up the remainder of the towers, over the bridge between the towers and descent via the opposite tower by spiral staircase.
As of August 2010, there is a service for faster entry whereby visitors can buy an entry code either at Servicaixa ATM kiosks (part of 'La Caixa') or online.
Construction on Sagrada Família is not supported by any government or official church sources. Private patrons funded the initial stages. Money from tickets purchased by tourists is now used to pay for the work, and private donations are accepted through the Friends of the Sagrada Família.
The construction budget for 2009 was €18 million.<ref name="elpais"/>
- List of Gaudí buildings
- List of Modernisme buildings in Barcelona
- List of basilicas
- Sagrada Família metro station
- 12 Treasures of Spain
- Official website of the Construction Board of La Sagrada Família Foundation
- Gaudí and Sagrada Família Barcelona
- Sagrada Familia at Great Buildings
- Journal of Sagrada Familia – Erke Blog
-  La Sagrada Familia in" Gaudidesigner" web site.