Trip Start May 31, 2006
170Trip End Ongoing
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We crossed Plaza Catalunya and continued to walk on Paseo de Gracia, an elegant avenue with impressive buildings, old and new, anywhere you looked at. It was a busy street where business men and students hurried along. Few tourists walked this way so our sightseeing-mode pace was apparently too slow for some.
Unfortunately, the bottom section of the building was closed for viewing so we decided we would come back another day to see the entire thing. We didn't want to miss anything. And so we continued to walk up Paseo de Gracia toward La Sagrada Familia.
The tour guide gave us a quick but important introduction that left me amazed: the Temple of the Sacred Family was conceived as an atonement concept: it would be built only with the donations and alms of the faithful....this of course would grant you forgiveness to all your sins. This is why the Temple is not yet finished: it depends solely on contributions. What a romantic concept to begin this architectural legacy with. And apparently its construction still has 25 more years to go!
Gaudi was appointed Project Director when he was a young upcoming architect, just one year after the church project began. He continued to work on the project for forty years until his death, when he left plans, drawing, studies, and notes on what the building should be. A sort of post-mortem oversee. The modern day architects have respected Gaudi's wishes but have brought his 19th-century designs into the 20th and 21st century. That's how the famous Passion Fašade came to be. The style of the sculptures have nothing to do with Gaudi's style; they are however exactly what he wanted.
The tour guide went on and on with interesting details about the temple and its design: for example the interior of the church was meant to symbolize a forest. The tall trunks are the huge columns we see in the main nave, and the branches with its leaves are spread out all across the vaults. Gaudi wanted to imitate the sunrays going through the leaves and branches of the canopy in any forest, so for that he created circular holes, like skylights allowing the sun to pierce the building. Witty.
He also kept in mind the chromatic richness of a forest: he used different colored stones for the different barks. The harder stones were used to cover the pillars that had to carry more weight. For example, the central pillars were made of Porphyr from Iran, which is a highly resistant stone and becomes red when polished. Granite from France was used in the apse columns. Bagnoregio Basalt from Italy is used in eight central columns and capitals.
"...the great book, always open and which we must make an effort to read, is the book of Nature; other books are based on this one, and therein lay the mistakes and interpretations of mankind." - Antoni Gaudi
On the way back home, as we left the organic Neo Gothic spires behind us, we promised each other that we would come back in 25 years to see the finished masterpiece, even if we grow apart.