Today, we visit the beautiful Mediteranean city of Barcelona. Although there are many things to do and see in the city, the focus of this blog will be on the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia (or Basilica of the Holy Family).
In March 1882, construction began on a new house of worship in Barcelona. One year later, when the original architect suddenly resigned, the project was begun anew by a rising 30 year old artist and designer named Antoni Gaudí. When he took over the project as chief architect he transformed the site into something the world had never seen before or since. Although he became very famous and completed numerous commissions each year, Gaudí devoted the majority of his later life to this project, though he only completed approximately a quarter of the work by the time of his death in 1926.
The majority of the building materials and labor costs were supplied through private donations and its construction progressed very slowly due to funding issues and the Spanish Civil War. Following Gaudi’s death, it is reported that, “In July 1936, revolutionaries set fire to the crypt and broke their way into the workshop, partially destroying Gaudí’s original plans, drawings and plaster models, which led to 16 years work to piece together the fragments of the master model.” In the 1950’s intermittent construction did take place, but it wasn’t until the advent of computer aided design that the building finally began to see some significant work.
At the point when I last visited (in 2009) the building was nearly 50% completed. At the current pace, it is expected that the building could be completed by 2026, which would be the 100th year anniversary of Gaudí’s death.
The building is something to be seen. I know I cannot put into words a description that does the ingenuity or beauty of the basilica justice! It is a major destination for tourists, even those just passing through the area, and was consecrated a Basilica by Pope Benedict XVI , 2010.
It is currently a usable worship space, although it is under nearly constant construction. Many remark, as do I, of the hope that hopes and prays that we will get to see it completed and brought to its full glory within our lifetime. The Sagrada Familia is a remarkable building and well worth a visit.