Monday, 6 September 2010

The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família

One of my all time favourite pieces of Architecture is the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, in Barcelona.

This translates as "Expiatory Church of the Holy Family". In Christianity, expiatory is a theological term for removing sin. The building is a privately funded Roman Catholic church and has been in construction since 1882 and is not expected to be completed until 2026. In the years of construction, Sagrada Familia has seen many architects come and go but by far the most proclaimed and successful has been Antoni Gaudi. He created the original concept and started work in 1883 and devoting the last fifteen years of his life to the project. He is to date, the only person to be buried in the grounds of the church.

The whole build is religiously motivated and when questioned why the construction plan was so time-consuming he responded "My client is not in a hurry". The most striking religious symbolism are the eighteen spires each representing religious figures. The tallest is Jesus Christ featuring a cross, then in height order follow the twelve Epolostles, four Evangelists and the Virgin Mary. Each featuring a symbol representing them. The tallest spire features a cross but stays 1 metre below the highest hill in Barcelona as Gaudi believed he should not surpass God's natural will.

The design is inspired by Gothic architecture and is a great representation of Gaudi's unique and fascinating style. One of his other ventures, the Casa Milà looks like it has appeared straight out of a Salvador Dali painting. His designs are really like no other and are so out there that it is a wonder they were commissioned at all. What I love about the designs are Gaudi's use of flowing organic style and the attention to detail. The intricate nature of his architecture is wondrous and today, rarely seen.

I was lucky enough to visit the Sagrada Familia and took a tour around the inside of the Temple and up some of the spires. The height of the building is truly unbelievable. You have to walk along a narrow stone path between two of the highest towers and there are even wide holes in the floor to allow to see pedestrians below. It was a breathtaking view with stunning and inspiring designs.

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