“My client can wait”

Exterior of Sagrada Familia - as you can see, construction is ongoing.
Exterior of Sagrada Familia – as you can see, construction is ongoing.

It’s hard to talk about Barcelona without talking about Antoni Gaudí, the architect who played with forms and color in the late 19th century and early 20th century. He was part of the Art Nouveau or Modernisme movement in Catalonia and produced many works of lasting importance. In fact, 7 of his buildings are registered on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

The Passion of the Christ
The Passion of the Christ
Detail of one of the Passion sculptures
Detail of one of the Passion sculptures
Detail of one of the sculptures on the Passion face of the cathedral
Detail of one of the sculptures on the Passion face of the cathedral

Gaudí himself was an interesting character. He was extremely religious – in fact, there is an effort to beatify him currently underway as the Catholic Church determines his qualifications for sainthood. He never married but raised his niece after her parents died. He also had some eccentric habits. He was known for his arrogance and believed that his work would be significant for many generations after him, and he was not wrong in that respect. He died in 1926 after being struck by a tram in Barcelona. He was dressed shabbily and was not recognized (read: eccentric habits), so he was taken to a pauper’s hospital. When his friends found him there two days later, he refused to leave and said that his place was among the poor.

Gaudí’s did some commissions for apartment buildings or other residences, including two near the city centre of Barcelona: Casa Batlló and Casa Milá (which was derogatorily called “La Perdrera” or the quarry). But Gaudí’s most famous work is the Sagrada Familia, the cathedral that dominates the Barcelona skyline. I took a bus from my hotel and ended up walking a few blocks up to the cathedral. As I neared the massive structure, I listened to the the people in front of me react to seeing the facade for the first time. There was laughter, and then someone declared, “it’s like Disney meets cathedral.” And that’s sort of an accurate description.
Sculpture on the Passion side - this is meant to be the passion of the Christ, but this is an interesting interpretation...
Sculpture on the Passion side – this is meant to be the passion of the Christ, but this is an interesting interpretation…
Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia

The cathedral is still under construction, though worked started in 1883, so there was scaffolding up everywhere. But what you can see is unlike any cathedral I’ve ever seen. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. There was a special event at the cathedral when I was there, so I could not get inside the church for love or money. If you go, I recommend purchasing tickets online well in advance. But I did spend quite a bit of time walking around the outside.

The Sagrada Familia folks announced on October 21 of this year that the cathedral has finally entered its final stage of construction. It is now estimated to be complete by 2025, just a year shy of the 100-year anniversary of Gaudí’s death. He knew he would not see his masterpiece completed, but he was encouraged that others would come after him to finish the work. And in this, too, he was not wrong.
Nativity side of Sagrada Familia
Nativity side of Sagrada Familia
Tomorrow I will share pictures of the Gaudí project I was able to get tickets to enter: Park Güell. So check back, and we’ll discuss breaking dishes for art.
Monument outside the Sagrada Familia commemorating its beginning in 1882
Monument outside the Sagrada Familia commemorating its beginning in 1882
Title quote: Antoni Gaudí, referring to God when asked when the Sagrada Familia would be complete
Sagrada Familia
Sagrada Familia
“El Erac” the famous lizard, one of Gaudí’s signatures.
Casa Milá or La Pedrera
Casa Milá or La Pedrera
Detail of La Pedrera
Detail of La Pedrera
Casa Batlló
Casa Batlló

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