The Sagrada Familia

Originally posted on October 23 2008, Viaje de una Vida

Observant Nomad | The Sagrada Familia

Gaudí was a religious man who believed that his work should imitate but never try to be more than what God had originally created. For example, the finished design of the highest point of the Sagrada Familia would be an exact 173 meteres high. That meant it would be only 1 meter lower than the highest hill – Mont Serat – in Barcelona. When Gaudí was asked why he decided on this, he simply stated that he didn’t want to “go higher than what God himself had created.”

The construction of the great Sagrada Familia began in April of 1882, and has become the most recognizable icon associated with Barcelona. Even though the church was originally planned by Francisco de Paula del Villar, after only one year, the commission fell to a very young Antoni Gaudí. 

Observant Nomad | Sagrada Familia Facade

While the whole Sagrada Familia is covered in religious symbolism, the nativity scene is the only facade Gaudí completed in his lifetime. The statues are all very detailed and lively which go with the symbolism of Jesus’s birth. The sides have an interesting ripple effect, where one side looks like leaves, and the other looks like waves of water. Both sides meet at the top which appears to be like birds.

Observant Nomad | Short Sagrada Familia

Obviously Gaudí’s work followed closely to nature, as he spent his childhood growing up in the rural areas around Barcelona and found fascination and inspiration in the forms and objects of nature. Many of the Sagrada Familia’s lines are fluid forms of parabolas, which are especially obvious in the structure of honeybee hives. Parabolas actually create the most perfect form of support in architecture, which until Gaudí, had been unknown or unused.

His spiral staircases copy seashells and the indoor columns mimic the limbs of a tall ancient forest. The natural light streaming through the top imitates the canopy mimicking the natural patterns where daylight would also stream through.

His eclectic style is seen throughout every detail of the church since Gaudí worked on it up until the day he died in 1926. It was far from completion at the time of his death, and still is. Some say it won’t be finished until 2050. I can’t wait to return again one day and see how much progress has been made.

*All photos by Observant Nomad