Detailed review by jeffjen
I do like to visit cathedrals and churches and am also a fan of the work of Antoni Gaudi, the Catalan architect who designed La Sagrada Familia and whose work can be seen in many places in Barcelona. In Gaudi's works there are the most diverse construction techniques, and great architectural innovation due to his knowledge of geometry.
Unfortunately, Gaudi was run over by a tram and died in 1926, aged 73 and is buried inside the church. He had spent more than 40 years working on the church, and knew anyway that it would never be completed in his lifetime, but had drawn plans so that the church could continue to be built after his death, which is what has happened and continues to this day.
Four architects have continued to work upon the church and despite some of Gaudi's plans being destroyed in the Civil War, they have been able to continue with reconstructed plans.
On arriving at the church, there were hundreds of visitors both inside and out, walking around and taking photographs. We were facing the facade which is known as 'The Passion' and this is the facade you can see on the photograph here.
There are 3 facades in total : The Passion, The Nativity, and The Glory which is not yet completed.
We decided to walk around the perimeter of the church, taking photographs, and I was amazed by the work and detail which has gone into the two facades you can see. We were given a lot of information from our helpful guide, Teresa.
The Passion facade depicts the the story from the Last Supper and betrayal of Jesus, through to his crucifixion, with four spires rising above which represent four of the apostles.
The Nativity facade is the oldest facade and we learned that this facade is the favourite of many visitors because it was completed before building work was interrupted due to the Civil War in 1936, and it is also the facade which depicts the most Gaudi influence.
I found the detail amazing and very beautiful, and again there are four spires representing another four apostles.
When the Glory facade is completed, it will depict the Resurrection of Christ, and will include another four spires, making twelve in total to represent all the apostles. We were told there will then be a further group of four spires built to represent the four evangelists, and two further spires to represent Mary, mother of Christ, and Jesus Christ himself, making 18 spires in total!
We were told by our guide that various dates have been mentioned for completion of the church, but it is envisaged that the church will be completed by 2026, which will mark 100 years since Gaudi's death. No exact date can be given as the building of the church is funded entirely by charity and from the admission fees to visit the inside of the church.
Also, there are a block of apartments facing the Glory facade which is currently under construction, and our guide explained these have to be knocked down to allow the work to continue, and negotiations are ongoing with people who live in the apartments to agree compensation.
We were shown the crypt, the wall of the apse and facade of the Nativity, which were all parts carried out by Gaudi himself, and the susequent works which have been and are still being carried out by the architects, who were left the task of interpreting the complicated sketches and models which Gaudi left after his death.
The crypt , apse and Nativity begin in a neo gothic style and develop into an ornamental style based on natural and animal forms worked in stone.
What becomes apparent, when we walked from the Nativity facade round to the Passion facade is the differences between the two. Not only in the colour of the stone, which is dark with age on the Nativity facade and lighter on the newer Passion facade, but also differences due to the use of modern techniques and equipment which have been implemented over the years.
It felt to me like it is three buildings combined into one, as it is three very different styles, but somehow it works and fits together, making it probably the most unique building I have ever seen.
There is a small souvenir shop which sells small ornamental replica's of the church, as well as photographs and books, along with the usual bookmarks, fridge magnets, pens etc. I bought a few items and like to think I have contributed a tiny amount to the building of the church!
It really is a beautiful and very striking building, and I would recommend a visit if you are in Barcelona.
Our guide told us that some people have said that the work should be brought to a halt, and the church left as 'Unfinished' as a mark of respect to Gaudi, but most people want to see the church completed. I can see both points of view and I did think when walking around, that maybe it should have been left unfinished, but then the work which has been completed since Gaudi's death is also amazing, and I realised I would like to see what it will look like when it is eventually completed.