Travel Tuesday: La Sagrada Família, Barcelona

The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (aka La Sagrada Familia) is a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). I visited this church when I was in Barcelona in 2006, and was floored by something that could be so beautiful and ugly at the same time. If you ask me, I kind of think it looks like a mud castle!

La Sagrada Familia is one of Gaudí’s most famous works in Barcelona and has been under construction since 1882! Talk about slow movers! Gaudí became involved in the project in 1883, transforming it with his architectural and engineering style—combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. He dedicated his last years to the project, and at the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete. Sagrada Família’s construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War—only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project’s greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026—the centennial of Gaudí’s death. The basílica has a long history of dividing the citizens of Barcelona—over the initial possibility it might compete with Barcelona’s cathedral, over Gaudí’s design itself, over the possibility that work after Gaudí’s death disregarded his design,  and the recent possibility that an underground tunnel of Spain’s high-speed train could disturb its stability. Although incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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