“It is not a disappointment that I will not be able to finish the temple. I will grow old, but others will come after me. What must be always preserved is the spirit of the work; its life will depend on the generations that transmit this spirit and bring it to life”, A. Gaudí.
I did save the very best for last. I visited Antoni Gaudí magnum opus, Sagrada Família (Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família) on my last day in Barcelona, marking it as a parting ode to this great city and to the whole backpacking trip.
Out of all the places I been to so far, Sagrada Família is one of those that is hard to describe. It is way beyond the “must see” categories and the use of elaborate adjectives may not justify that feeling of stepping inside this masterpiece.
At a first glance in one of its three facade, “unusual” might be the most appropriate term to describe Sagrada Família. It certainly looks like a Gothic church with its towering spires and elaborate exterior design but a closer inspection of the decoration reveals an understanding of what Sagrada Família is about, it is a creation full of symbolism of the unusual mix of topics- religion, political, mythology, history and nature.
But the brilliance of Sagrada Família lies heavily on its interior, specifically the vault and pillar system, where the tree-like column structures routed the weight to the pillars in the ground without the use of exterior buttresses. This specific design is said to be the very essence of Gaudí’s architectural style, for there is no model within the science that is similar to the vault and pillar system that was implemented in Sagrada Família.
Each tree like column of various sizes and colors rising up towards the roof of the nave, created a one of a kind atmosphere where it feels like you are standing inside a magical forest, dwarfed by all the elements around you.
More than finding the meaning of each wall and each figure, it is also important to simply appreciate the sheer beauty of Gaudí’s magnum opus. Imagine when you happen to be inside Sagrada Família during opening hours, where everything is a bit more calm and quiet, you literally need to sit down for a while, let the sunshine striking the stained glass decor fill you and just soak into the sheer magnificence of this architecture.
To fully experience Sagrada Família, I climbed the Nativity Tower to see up close at least one of the eighteen spires which when completed will make Sagrada Família the tallest church building in the world.
Sagrada Família might divide both the critics and public opinion from the beginning to date, but there is no denying that much respect be given to Gaudí for his unapologetic fearlessness of simply mirroring his passion into his creation.
Still under construction after more than 100 years, I am looking forward to see what Sagrada Família will look like once completed. Hopefully by that time, I will be lucky to view it in person once again and maybe backpack Europe one more time.