"" Writer's Wanderings: Barcelona, Spain - La Segrada Familia

Monday, June 14, 2010

Barcelona, Spain - La Segrada Familia

One of the most famous structures in Barcelona is the Sagrada Familia, the huge cathedral designed largely by Antoni Gaudi who took over the work in 1884. The building is a monumental undertaking and has outlived Gaudi who died in 1926.

When it is finished, it will have a total of eighteen towers. Twelve are dedicated to the apostles, four to the evangelists, one to the Virgin Mary and another, which will rise above them all, to Jesus. Each fa├žade is ornately covered with sculptures and carved stone that relate to the Biblical stories and also to nature. Gaudi apparently based his work on elements in nature. There are trees, fruits, animals and other implied elements as wind and waves in the structures he designs.

Take a look at the turtle who appears to be holding up one of the critical supporting columns. I’m not sure what his expression is indicative of—surprise, pain, determination?
And why choose a turtle? Why not an elephant or other more common beast of burden? Perhaps the fanciful designs Gaudi created were more whimsical than we give him credit for.

Inside the cathedral, work continues as well. Supporting columns are made of several different materials. It will be quite impressive when the machinery and scaffolding are removed. When that happens will depend upon how donations come in. The entire project has reportedly been done by private donations.

A part of the basement of the cathedral is devoted to a museum of Gaudi’s original models. He worked mostly from three dimensional models and had some unique ways of calculating dimensions like the strings he hung with small weights to get the measurements needed for the towers. If you look at the picture and imagine it upside down, you will see the shape of the towers. From this he calculated the measurements and was quite accurate according to modern day techniques.

Several other structures in Barcelona were designed by Gaudi including the apartment building I’ve pictured here. But as our guide informed us his designs as intricate and overdone as they are along with his name did not give origin to the adjective, gaudy. It’s simply a coincidence. Okay, if you say so.

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