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La Sagrada Familia – A brief history

La Sagrada Familia is possibly the most well-known of Antonio Gaudi’s works and the pride of Barcelona. Labored over by several architects apart from Gaudi himself, this church has the unique distinction of having achieved the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Basilica while standing mostly incomplete. Another of its notable characteristics is that the massive project is funded entirely through donations. Work on it began with private bequests and continues today through funds from ticket sales and donations made to the Sagrada Familia trust.

The church has been under construction for over a 100 years already (work on it began in 1882) and is expected to last for several more decades, depending on the projection you refer to. Gaudi was the second architect to work on the project and is famously quoted as having said “My client is in no hurry” when questioned on its completion date. This was the last of Gaudi’s projects and was less than 25 percent complete on his death in 1926. He took on a conventional design and transformed it into an architectural wonder, combining the Gothic style with his signature modernistic touch.

There have been several disruptions in life span of the project including Gaudi’s own death, the Spanish Civil War and a shortage of funds. Though the design is credited to Gaudi, it is openly acknowledged that some of the original plans were lost during the war and with changes in technology and constructional advancements, differences in the style and execution of the older and newer parts of the structure are quite apparent.

The most remarkable feature of La Sagrada Familia is undoubtedly its soaring spires. Planned to be 18 in all, work on 10 of the spires is now complete. They stand out distinctly on the Barcelona skyline and can be spotted easily from different vantage points around the city. Another key facet of the church is its three facades which bear Christian figures and depictions from the Bible. Each of the façades represents a different period in Christ’s life and is respectively named Nativity Façade, Passion Façade and Glory Façade. The first two are now complete and work has begun on the third. In the interios, Gaudi’s slender and multi-faceted columns along and the mesmerizing high ceiling are particularly of note.

At La Sagrada Familia

You may wonder at an incomplete structure becoming such a noted tourist attraction. But the Sagarada Familia will not disappoint. Apart from the admiring the magnificent exterior, visitors can access the museum to learn about the eventful past of the church and its most famous architect, pay a visit to the crypt where Gaudi has been laid to rest or ride up an elevator within the spires to take in an aerial view of Barcelona.

La Sagrada Familia is easily accessible by the Blue and Purple metro lines. Be prepared though for jostling queues, pricey tickets (12.50 euros per head) and long waits for this incomplete masterpiece draws visitors from the world over.

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