The end has begun

Trip Start Jun 13, 2012
Trip End Jun 26, 2012

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Flag of Spain  , Catalonia,
Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday, June 24 afternoon

Ok so our last afternoon started with lunch and some free time.  We tried to shop but most of the stores were closed because it was Sunday.  Once the group all gathered together again we headed over to the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family or more commonly known as Sagrada Familia one of Gaudi's last masterpieces.  As Gaudi aged he became more and more spiritual so when the original architect resigned from the project and he was chosen to continue the work it became his most famous and a life-long project which still continues today.

The church which was started in 1882 remains a work in progress.  At this time they hope to have the church completed by 2026 the centennial of Gaudí's death.  Guadi's work on the church began in 1883 and he was still actively involved when he unexpectedly passed away in 1926.  The original idea for the church was a pyramid shaped domed but once Gaudi became involved it was changed for another idea which included 18 bell towers or domes.  Today, 8 of them have been completed on the Nativity and Passion facades. 

The church is in the form of a Latin cross with a central nave and four side naves.  The inside is 90 meters by 60 meters and there are seven chapels and two circular staircases.  The entire building is surrounded by a cloister which links it with three great facades:  the east side is the Nativity, the west side is the Passion, and the southern side is the Glory.  The Glory facade is still under construction at this time.

We entered the church through the Nativity facade.  In the middle of the facade is Jesus, Mary, and Joseph between an ox and mule under the Star of the Orient.  They are surrounded by singing angels.  Above and to each side is the Adoration of the Shepherds and the Magi.    The facade also depicts the Annunciation and Coronation of Mary, the Betrothal of Joseph and Mary and the Presentation of Jesus at the temple.  Finally there is a cypress tree which is a refuge of birds symbolizing the Church.  Further up is a huge bell tower crowned with "Tau" the Greek initial letter for the name of God.

Once inside the church I found a sanctuary unlike any other I have ever seen.  In some ways it reminded me of a Gothic building but it wasn't dark or foreboding it was light and airy.  The stained glass windows allowed a myriad of colored reflections inside.  The columns were tree shaped with the branches melding into the ceiling as if reaching out to one another.  The columns actually lean, I can't explain all of the math involved but Guadi found a way by leaning the columns to "follow the pressure curve supporting the weight of the roof".  The knots in the columns allow the generation of new columns which creates the branching effect that resembles a tree. I know a lot of what I am describing is difficult to understand all I can say is it was simply beautiful and someday I would like to return to see the completed structure.

After spending some time in the sanctuary we left the church on the west side or the Passion side.   The Passion facade represents the pain, sacrifice, and death of Jesus closer to the bottom while the upper reaches proclaim his Resurrection and Ascension into Heaven.  The stained glass window of the Resurrection is like an explosion of light inside the church and should serve as a reminder to all just what Jesus has done for us. 

The third facade, or Glory facade is not completed but will be the largest and some say most striking of the facades. It will, when finished, be the principal access to the central nave. This facade will be dedicated to the Glory of Jesus, representing the road to God: Death, Final Judgment, and Glory, while Hell is left for those who deviate from God's will. Guadi realized he would not live to see the Glory facade completed so he left a general sketch so the architects at the time (now) could incorporate their architectural and artistic styles. What is known is there will be a large staircase with an underground passage representing Hell and vice. The portico will have seven columns dedicated to spiritual gifts. At the base of the columns the Seven Deadly Sins will be depicted while at the tops the Seven Heavenly Virtues.

Ok I'm sure you are all ready to be done with the Sagrada Familia but just know it left a huge impression on this tourist.  Anyhow, after Sagrada Familia we took a "bit of a walk".  Ok in my world a bit of  a walk means five maybe ten/fifteen minutes well out tour guides idea of a "bit of a walk" was more like fifty to fifty-five minutes.  It was hot, the areas we walked through were not very interesting, and my foot hurt.  By the time we made it to the beach area I was one cranky tourist.  So I found the first cafe I could and ordered myself (and a few others) a Sangria and thoroughly enjoyed every drop of it. While I was enjoying my rest the kids scattered down to the beach and to the waters edge. The entire "port" area of Barcelona was updated for the 1992 Summer Olympics and is really beautiful. We had our last dinner together in the port area and then back to the hotel (by taxi) we went.  Our flight out in the morning is early (like we have to leave by 4:30am) so with sadness I must end my blog for Two Weeks in Spain--Madrid to Barcelona with a final,

luv to all,

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