Sagrada Familia… Gaudi’s Masterpiece of Faith

My blogging friend Kelly at Compass and Camera posted photos a week or so ago that showed stained glass windows and reminded me of Gaudi’s masterpiece cathedral, Sagrada Familia. The soaring faith required to imagine and build this beautiful sanctuary in Barcelona is a reminder that faith and hope together have tremendous power, enough to build a soaring cathedral— and enough to get through the darkest night, which is a comforting thought given the troubling times we have experienced the past few years and are especially experiencing now. (These photos were taken on a visit that Peggy and I made to the Cathedral in 2015.)

The front of Sagrada Familia reflects Antoni Gaudi’s love of nature and is sometimes described as looking like a melting cake. My thoughts are more like melting ice cream cake. The church is a work in progress. The towers are the first of 14.

Barcelona arrived in the Twentieth Century with its own brand of Art Nouveau, Modernisme. Combining whimsical and practical with a healthy dollop of nature, Barcelona’s Catalan artists and architects did a makeover of their city. Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926), the best known among the Modernistas, added strong religious belief to his work and became the architect of Sagrada Familia, the Church of the Holy Family.

Started in 1883, the church continues to be a work in progress today. Like the great cathedrals of the Gothic and Renaissance periods, it is a work of generations, and like the great cathedrals of Europe, is a masterpiece of art and architecture. Peggy, our traveling companions, and I walked inside and could only stare in awe at the beauty. I’ve selected the photos for this blog to provide a sense of why.

Just walking around the church is inspiring. This sculpture found outside is one of many included in Joseph Marin Subirach’s story of Christ’s death. I found the modern sculptures both powerful and moving. You can feel the grief here.
To get a true feeling for Sagrada Familia, you have to go inside, however. The columns in the church range from 36 to 72 feet tall. The ceiling vault reaches a height of 200 feet. The final tower, which will rest on the beams and ceiling, will soar 560 feet into the air, making it the tallest church steeple in the world.
Another view looking up. I had a sense of a white bird soaring over and looking down.
This picture provide a sense of the soaring columns. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
Stained glass windows adorn the great cathedrals of Europe and Sagrada Familia has its share of beauties as this photo and the following three show.
Photo by Peggy Mekemson.
Photo by Peggy Mekemson.
Photo by Peggy Mekemson.
Every inch of the cathedral shows close attention to detail and creativity, like this wall.
I really like this photo by Peggy that combines the pipes of an organ with the stained glass windows. (Photo by Peggy Mekemson.)
The crucifix hanging above the altar serves as a symbol that brings Christians together from throughout the world, but the Cathedral speaks to me of more than religious faith. It speaks to a faith in humanity that goes beyond religious creed, race, nationality, sex, or any of the other differences that tear us apart and are exploited by self-serving, unscrupulous demagogues to a belief/hope that working together we can build— have to build— a better world for our children, grandchildren, and future generations. And for ourselves. Let’s make the world great.
I’ll close today with a final photo of Sagrada Familia.

NEXT POST: A special! The first fawn has arrived…

34 thoughts on “Sagrada Familia… Gaudi’s Masterpiece of Faith

  1. It is a magnificent accomplishment. The inside is a bit too modern for my taste, but then again, I didn’t like it when the mass went from Latin to English either. 🙂

  2. Absolutely beautiful. And I enjoyed the stained glass as well on Compass & Camera. I’m drawn to cathedrals anyway — architecture, art, icons, etc. The work involved is unfathomable to us. Thx for posting.

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Rusha. One of the things that I enjoyed so much about the stained glass windows in Sagrada was that they incorporated both traditional and modern themes. All beautiful! –Curt

  3. Such an amazing place. So alive and bursting with creativity! No limits, no boundaries, everything is possible. I was in constant awe when I went there and it was probably around the same year you went.

  4. Thanks for the shout out, Curt! 🙂 I loved seeing the interior of the Sagrada Familia portrayed in such detail, especially the ceiling and the colors of the stained glass. I also enjoyed your perspective on faith in humanity. Thank you for a timely and inspiring post.

    • You’re welcome, Kelly. 🙂 Appreciated. I think it ever so important (and difficult) to stay focused on the positive side of humanity. I do believe some good things are happening out there now. –Curt

  5. I can’t make up my mind if I like it or not. I first visited in 2004 and it was a building site, I thought that they would never finish it but I returned in 2018 and already the interior was complete and in some places being refurbished already.
    Interesting that the Catholic Church didn’t want another Cathedral in Barcelona, they already have one and have only designated Sagrada Familia as a minor basilica. I consider it more of a theme park than a church!

    • I like whimsical, Andrew, which the church is, but I also thought there was considerable beauty. Peggy and I saw it right after we had toured a number of other European Churches, including Greek Orthodox. The crowds might give a feeling of a theme park, but fortunately we missed them! –Curt

  6. Isn’t it the most wonderful space! I first visited in 1991 and there was only the sense of what it might become. My next visit only a couple of years ago was a revelation — they’d virtually finished. Even went right up to the top by lift. Thought it would be a dawdle going down on foot and regretted that for the rest of the day 😀 Of course, the only problem is the number of tourists and hence the number of thieves.

    • I’d like to see it again now, Annie, given that it has been five years since Peggy and I were there. It would be close to perfect now, at least a s far as tourists are concerned. 🙂 Kind of a tough way to get rid of them, however. It was a bit of a climb going down, eh? 🙂 –Curt

  7. Certainly a laborious work of architecture. It is awesome in its size and complexity and one cannot but marvel at the skill and craftsmanship.
    Some people tried to connect adj. gaudy with the name of the architect Gaudi but they are not at all related.

    I haven’t seen this work but from what I feel, give me our own Sydney Opera House. Of course, the Spanish would have allowed the Danish Architect to have finished the job. To Australia’s shame and fondness for acting petty minded at that time, the architect, Bjorn Utzon’s fees for his work were stopped and he was forced to resign and never saw his work finished.

    • I’ve only seen the opera house from the outside, Gerard, but I have seen photos of inside. And yes, it magnificent.
      Gaudy implies cheap and frivolous to me, Gerard. You are right. Sagrada Familia is neither. –Curt

  8. That’s an impressive edifice. All those interior shots are things that weren’t there when I saw it in 1980 – there wasn’t even a roof. I vaguely remember they had a model they used as a guide; is it still there?

    • Yes, Dave, the model is still there, at least it was in 2015. I took photos of it. I understand that they are getting close to finishing the structure now. I’d like to go back and visit again. –Curt

  9. My husband and I visited here too likely somehow in the same timeframe as you. Magnificent isn’t it? Magnificent in its beauty and gaudiness all at the same time. The rainbow lighting, the trees on the ceilings, the amazing stone sculptures. The fact it has taken so long to complete. I must admit though, I thought it looked better when we were there versus now because it looks so busy. But, regardless, I would love to go back and see it completed some day.

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