Cathedral Sagrada Familia
The Cathedral dominates the Barcelona skyline.
La Sagrada Familia is the beating heart of the city of Barcelona. It can be seen across the skyline almost anywhere you go. The top of the spires peaking out, watching over the city at all times. Designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, construction began in 1882, and you might be surprised to learn that development is still going on today. Currently, the best projection on its completion is 2026, a significant year which marks the centenary of the death of Gaudí. Despite its incomplete nature, this is THE MOST important sight to see when visiting Barcelona. Its history, design and the feeling you get upon stepping inside in unparalleled. The church feels like a summation of what Barcelona is all about and understanding it before visiting or while you tour it is so essential to better enjoying this fantastic monument.
During the 19th century Barcelona, along with the rest of Europe, was going through a significant period of change. The church which had once held such immense power and authority over cities now found itself losing its cultural influence with the growth of independent governments. Urban lifestyles were changing the way that Catalonians lived, and more and more the church was becoming less and less a central part of their daily routine. In 1866 the Spanish clergy created the Association of Devotees of Saint Joseph who took it upon themselves to help bring back the relevance of faith and spirituality in Catalonia. They raised enough money to start construction on a wondrous temple, so spectacular and eye-catching that it would be the spot where pilgrims from all over the world would travel and which would encourage locals to come back into the fold. The church was dedicated to the Holy Family. The first architect of the church Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano but soon after construction started he resigned. They then enlisted Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí. And that one decision would be the catalyst for the creation of what is now one of the greatest man-made wonders of the world.
Gaudí was run down by a streetcar and died in 1926 when only a small portion of the Basilica had been built. Although his life was cut short, Gaudí always knew he would never see the church finished. He looked back to the great, medieval cathedrals which took hundreds of years to create. Some taking over 100 years from start to completion. He put every ounce of creativity, innovation and imagination into the temple's design so that when he died, his revolutionary work would inspire the next architect who took over. Many people were surprised that Gaudí would set out to create something which would take so long to build, when asked why, Gaudí would always say, "My client is not in a hurry." This is where he got the nickname, "God's Architect".