Friday, August 24, 2012

The 150 Year Church

One of Gaudi's finest achievements is La Sagrada Familia, a church begun in 1882 (Gaudi joined the team in 1883). Construction is still ongoing, due to be completed in 1926. Amazingly, the halfway point of construction was just passed, in 2010! La Sagrada Familia is full of unique, incredible details and perfectly exhibits a meeting of Gaudi's two loves of nature and religion. While I can certainly appreciate a beautiful church with paintings and mosaics and marble work and carved wood altars, La Sagrada Familia is something completely and utterly different, yet still a place that fills the spirit with glory.
The Passion (or Crucifixion) Facade faces west. Stark and striking, the sculptures are harsh and angular and sparse, meant to invoke a feeling of bones.

The simplicity allows focus and reflection, and the expressions show the emotion. This facade is in deliberate contrast to...
The Nativity Facade, a riot of sculpture with tons of nature scenes. This facade reminds me of the dripping sand castles I used to make as a child. Gaudi actually intended for all the figures to be painted in different colors. There is another facade under construction, so we did not get to see it due to the coverings and cranes, but it will be the Glory Facade (Ascension).
The interior is probably my favorite church interior of any I've ever visited. It is filled with columns meant to suggest trees, and with artfully placed natural lighting, the feeling is of standing in a forest. In some places, the columns are placed in a line, while in others, they wander organically. The columns are fluted and at the top branch out, meeting the next column. On lower levels, colored stained glass lights up the stone in oranges and blues and greens, while the upper levels allow natural sunlight to filter through the "branches."
The chandelier over the altar area is just as unique as the rest of the church.

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