Monday, September 19

The Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Hello again! Of course after my last Barcelona post, some of you may think I'm a bit of a Barbarian. A whole post going on about the majesty of Gaudi and no mention of the Sagrada Familia? I was playing it cool, guys. It's here!

My goal with these Barcelona posts is really to share fab places to visit for whenever you're in the city, so you don't wind up like we did-- twiddling our thumbs the first three days because we're all busy with jobs and forgot to do our homework before jetting out. Is the Sagrada Familia an obvious pick? Yes! But you can't spend a week in Gaudi-town and not go. It's an affront to his memory. Almost as much of an affront as intentionally not finishing the cathedral's construction in order to wheedle money out of tourists? Anyway! After over a hundred years it's yet to be completed, but Gaudi did once say when pressed about the wait, that his 'client isn't in a rush'. So, that's that! Moving on!

We set off to the Cathedral on one of the last days of the trip as there were a few places nearby to it that we had intended to visit, so we thought it sensible to round them up and go in one fell swoop. Here is our travelling troupe of Barcelona babes: Rob on the left, my Sam, lovely Jen front and centre, Bob in the back, my windswept self at the front, and Jen's Mark on the right. A handsome gang I'm sure you'll agree.

I have a leaflet on my right as I sit typing this, that says 'Gaudi's personality can be interpreted from a dual point of view'. It says that he is both an artistic megamind and and also something of a prodigy in terms of his genius solutions to practical problems-- such as constructing viaducts, planning water-collection systems and all the minutiae that comes with essentially designing an entire city.

I feel like this dual personality is really clearly demonstrated in the physical appearance of the Sagrada Familia. Both sides are borne from Gaudi's brain, but one side of the cathedral is that obsessively, unrelentingly intricate style he's known for-- detail in every millimetre and with full attention granted to every inch-- and the other is a real modernist masterpiece.

Admittedly, the modernist side has been constructed (and is still being constructed) posthumously, but they've built it from the bottom up from his blueprints.

This dual design wasn't just for a bit of a laugh to see if dopey tourists could differentiate the two art styles though, like everything Gaudi did it added meaning to the construction. The front side entrance depicts the Christian nativity story-- Angels on high, wisemen bearing gifts, and the baby Jesus surrounded by billowing flowers and abundant light and joy. Depicted with signature eccentric excess, it creates an image of happiness, inclusiveness and bounty.

Even the bespoke wrought-bronze doors have been designed to the millimetre, with individual insects and leafs crafted on an enormous scale.

In contrast, the exterior of the cathedral-- the 'Passion' and 'Glory' facades {seen here}-- depict in bleak concrete the crucifixion and persecution elements of the Christian mythos. Unfinished, when completed it will feature demons, depictions of the seven deadly sins and fallen angels. The heavy stuff!

 The inside, too, has been designed with a real impact in mind.

The pillars and spires were designed to resemble trees reaching up to the 'sunlit' ceilings. Stained glass windows line the walls and refract rainbow coloured light across the room.

Every city in Europe has a beautiful cathedral, I think, but the Sagrada Familia truly is unique. You have to see it to believe it.

Until next time!

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