The Unfinished Church

Sagra da familia – The unfinished Roman Catholic basilica

Sagra da Familia – Also known as The Basílica de la Sagrada Família, is a large Roman Catholic minor basilica in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.

Designed by Spanish/Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, his work on the building is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What’s interesting in this Heritage?

It’s been over a hundred years now and it is still being constructed.

The construction started in the 1880s and is expected to be completed by the year 2026

During the early days of La Sagrada Familia’s construction, Gaudí built a school on the site called the Sagrada Familia Schools building. The school was built for the children of construction workers to attend while their fathers spent their days and nights building one of the most magnificent structures in all of Europe. Designed in 1909, the school is now the site of an exhibition on the Sagrada Familia. 

When construction first began on La Sagrada Familia, it was understood to be a simple Roman Catholic church. Later on, it was designated as a cathedral, and then in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI declared it a basilica. For those who might not be familiar with the distinction, a cathedral is the seat of a bishop, so it turned out to be a great honor for the building.

Each and every design has its own meaning in this Heritage which makes this monument the most visited monument in the world.

Why La sagra da familia is a part of UNESCO?

Here are some of the amazing facts which will answer your queries:

1. The 18 Towers of la sagrada familia:

It’s been said, when it is finished, Sagrada Familia will have 18 towers, each of them has a religious meaning-

12 dedicated to the Apostles, 4 to the Evangelists, one to Jesus and one to Mary, with the highest spire reaching 170 meters high.  

2. La sagra da familia has only curved lines:

Antoni Gaudí decided to design the Sagrada Familia, like most of his works, with curved lines which makes it an unique structure. According to Gaudí, straight lines did not exist in the Nature, and this is why the temple –which reflects the Nature, life and death- should not be constructed with straight lines. As a symbol of Nature, the columns of the Sagrada Famlia are built in a tree-shape to support the whole monument.

3. Sagra da familia has suffered from vandalism:

During the Spanish Civil War in 1936, vandalism occurred in the Sagrada Familia where the crypt and Gaudí’s workshp were partly burnt. A large part of Gaudí’s plans and models were destroyed by fire. Yet, with only a few instructions and plans remaining from Gaudí, the construction of La Sagrada Familia continued, with new architects such as Francesc Quintana, Isidre Puid and Luís Bonet. They tried to remain faithful to Gaudí’s view and also brought their own style, following Gaudí’s wish to make each  generation participate in the construction.

On April 2011, another act of vandalism occurred and a fire was started in the sacristy which was damaged. 

Sagra da familia is taking longer time than The Great Pyramid of Giza:

The construction of the Sagrada Familia started in 1882 and is supposed to be finished in 2026 or 2028 for the Gaudí’s centenary. Historically, the building of the Gaudí’s masterpiece has taken longer than the construction of the Great Pyramids. Indeed, the pyramids of Goza had taken 20 years to be built while the Sagrada Familia will take between 144 and 146 years to be completed. 

The designs and its meaning:

  1. “THERE IS A MAGIC SQUARE ON THE PASSION” facade:

    This is one of the mysteries of the Sagrada Familia temple. Indeed, on the Passion facade, next to the statues of a couple kissing, you might see a 4×4 magic square of 15 numbers that has been a complete brain teaser so far. Some have found that the magic constant – i.e. when you add up all numbers horizontally or vertically- is 33, like the age of Christ when he was crucified. The same number also appears in the Parque Guëll (also designed by Gaudí) where the sum of stairs is 33. Another explanation is that the number 33 is the highest rank a freemasonist can reach. Indeed, Gaudí was probably a freemasonist, as his childhodd friend Eduard was one and because Gaudí was born in Reus, one of the cradles of freemasonry and also because Gaudí’s patron, Guell, was also said to be a freemasonist. Another explanation is that Gaudí intentionally occulted the number 12 in order to deny the existence of the 12 apostles. Any way, this mathematic square remains a complete mystery that Gaudí brought in his tomb.

2.  THE SAGRADA FAMILIA HAS 3 FACADES EACH WITH A SPECIAL MEANING

The first facade, that of the Nativity, was built in 1935 and remains the only facade to have been completely imagined by Gaudí, the latter directly directing its construction. It represents the birth of Jesus Christ, symbolized by the sunrise to the northeast. The facade also represents elements of Nature and the creation of life.

The second facade, that of the Passion, much purer and dedicated to the suffering of Christ during his crux. The facade was supposed to represent the sins of men. Many architects have worked on this façade while trying to remain faithful to the style of Gaudí while bringing their personal touch. The facade faces west facing the sun, a symbol of the death of Christ.

The third facade, that of the Glory, is the most imposing of the Sagrada Familia but is still under construction. It is dedicated to the glory of Jesus and the way to the eternal kingdom through death, final judgment, and glory.

3.  THE CONSTRUCTION OF LONG-TERM BASILICA WAS FINANCED ONLY BY DONATIONS.

The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia received the title of the expiatory temple because its construction was never supported by financial aids from the State or the church. Indeed, for many years the construction of the Basilica was financed by patrons. The Sagrada then received many private funds, donations or alms. These funds were used exclusively for the construction of Gaudí’s dream. Today donations to the Sagrada Familia are scarcer and the bulk of the construction is financed by visitors paid by visitors to visit the temple.

How to visit?

There are 2 ways you can visit the basilica

1. By metro – Go up Passeig de Gràcia to the station of the same name and take line L2 (the lilac). It will take you directly to the Sagrada Familia.

2. By bus – There are several options but the fastest is the 50 bus.

Suggestions:

Travelling by bus will give you a better experience as in spain, especially in Barcelona, there are a lot of local places you can have view at which are just more attractive than the natural sight seeings.

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