Sagrada Familia | Gaudí’s Highest Expression of Life

Words couldn’t describe the fireworks of emotions I felt when I first entered the interior of the Roman Catholic church known as La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. I froze like a statue standing still for a few minutes, then continued with tears in my eyes. I hesitated for a second… then, taking a seat in a pew I started praying.

I am not devout but if that experience is what is considered a religious one, then now I understand what a divine and holy moment are about. But beyond its religious meaning, this monumental piece of art is an expression of beauty and the love that the iconic architect Antoni Gaudí not only had for Barcelona but also for this colorful city’s residents.

In 1883, Gaudí took over the design of the Sagrada Familia Temple and worked on it for 43 years, until 1926. Already five generations have witnessed its rise in Barcelona. Construction continues today expecting to be finished during the first part of this century.

Sagrada Familia’s architecture represents a symbiosis of forms between Gaudí’s personal perception of inspiration in nature and Christian iconography where light and color play a central role. Storytelling through the design of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, which are on portals of the three facades.

Hierarchically organized the middle tower with an extraordinary sense of elevation is dedicated to Jesus Christ surrounded by four towers representing the Gospels. The tower crown appearing like a star represents his mother, the Virgin Mary while the remaining 12 towers are the symbolization of the 12 Apostles.

The way Gaudí planned the light inside the Basilica Sagrada Familia is absolutely extraordinary and astonishing. The light of the sun rays penetrating through the colored crystal windows bathes the interior creating textures that change with the time of the day. In that sense, the light becomes the protagonist accentuating the grandeur aiming to evoke the joy of Jesus’ birth.

For Gaudí color was the highest expression of life and that can be felt as you enter this sanctuary. Besides the color provided by diverse finishes and materials, there are different types of natural stone and tiles in the vaulting. Just by raising your eyes up you will see the splendor and magnificence while reading and imagining the story they tell. The branching columns, besides their structural function, reflect Gaudí’s idea that the inside of this place of worship should be like wood that invites prayer and apt for celebrating the Eucharist.

“The intimacy and depth is that of a wood, which will be the interior of the Temple of the Sagrada Familia.” – Antoni Gaudí.

Gaudí had many architects that followed and collaborated with him. After his death in 1926, many architects and craftsmen contributed in continuing Gaudí’s legacy on this project based on the drawings and plaster models that he left.

“It is not a disappointment that I will not be able to finish the temple. I will grow old, but others will come after me. What must be always preserved is the spirit of the work; its life will depend on the generations that transmit this spirit and bring it to life,” in the words of Antoni Gaudí.

It’s undeniable Gaudí’s unique architectonic language and exceptional contribution to the development of architecture and building technology. Still today, his creations amaze us and are considered revolutionary, even a century after he designed them.

photography // Pep Daudé / Basílica de la Sagrada Família © Junta Constructora del Temple de la Sagrada Família. All rights reserved.