If you were to put in a search for great architectural buildings then be prepared to come across; Basilica I Temple Expiatori d la Sagrada Familia; a Roman Catholic Church situated in the centre of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
The Basillica of the Sagrada Familia was inspired by a Catalan bookseller and chairman of the holy brotherhood, Josep Maria Bocabella (1815-1892). On his way back from the Vatican in 1872, Josep was determined to build a cathedral having witnessed the one in Loreto. In 1881 the location was granted and Francesc de Paula I Villar (1828-1901 was commissioned to build Sagrada Familia.
However, Francesc de Paula I Villa resigned due to constant discrepancies with Joan Mortorell-a architect advising Josep Maria Bocabella. The job was then offered to Mortorell whom immediately turned it down proposing architect Antoni Gaudi.
Antoni Gaudi changed the original concept seizing the opportunity to express his devout feelings. He was a visionary and organic and was portrayed as a perfectionist. He would frequently alter his designs, making models and spontaneous drafts, therefore apart from creating a module, which was burnt in the fire (Spanish Civil War) he never followed a planned architectural design from start to end on papers, thus leaving no documented evidence of completion of his work(s). However, Antoni Gaudi made it clear he wanted a total of 18 towers; twelve symbolising the apostles, four dedicated to the evangelist and one of each for Mary and Jesus. With his engineering architecture experience he manually built the structure adding a Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau feel to it and even took up residence so he could be there 24/7 dealing with any issues immediately. He dedicated himself to the job for over forty years, only ever having one girlfriend in his lifetime, he got so wrapped up in mastering Sagrada Familia that he neglected his own appearance.
On the 10th June 1926 Antoni Gaudi was knocked down by a tram. Due to his unkempt exterior, nobody recognised him, leaving him abandoned. Taxi drivers refused him access thinking he was a vagabond. Police, in the end, intervened and took him to a poor hospital where he stayed for three days before passing away, aged 73, taking with him is visual masterpiece. Less then a quarter of Sagrada Familia was complete, relying on donations. Architects continued to work on the project until the disruption of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).
During the Spanish Civil War Anarchists took advantage of the situation and targeted the Sagrada Familia, setting fire to the crypt and workshop destroying models, photographs and original drawings -which would have given clear future reference as to Antoni Gaudiís intentions. Eventually shaking of post-war, Francesc de Paula Quintana I Vidal, an associate of Gaudi since 1919 restored the burnt crypt and reconstructed many of the damaged models, which was used as a guideline. In 1954 work was continued with, if anything, more determination to fulfil Antoni Gaudiís wishes. In 1955 a full day was taken out for collections, this was when the public whom at the time, opted for continuation, devoted money to the project. In 1961 a museum opened, allowing visitors the chance to learn more about the history of Sagrada Familia, to learn the symbolic aspects of the cathedral.
In the late 1950ís computer-aided-design technology was slowly added to the sculptures which allowed architects to use machines to shape stone, whereas in the 20th century the stone was carved by hand, taking a lot longer period to complete sections. Architects continued working on the Sagrada Familia under chief architect Jordi Bonet. The deadline for completion is 2026, an anniversary date to Antoni Gaudiís death.
I got quite excited at the idea of looking into the history of Sagrada Familia. I am a huge fan of unique architecture. I have written for many years, specialising mainly about Spain. When I came across Sagrada Familia, like a lot of people, I was in awe, my breath was taken immediately and my heart leaped with joy and I felt such emotion, inspiration and love. The structural vision was like poetry, where every detail fulfilled my hunger. I have to admit something though, at the beginning of this journey I was quite naÔve. I believed reading about Sagrada Familia would be like reading a fairytale, a happy ending. I no longer believe this now, infact, I do not ever believe, completed or not, Sagrada Familia, will ever have a happy ending, regardless of itís magnificent beauty.
To much controversy surrounds, like a swarm of bees; hard to ignore. Throughout my research I could not ignore the constant questions rotating inside my head; can you really call Sagrada Familia a Gaudi masterpiece? With constant architectures working on this daily and the constant additions, what would Gaudi himself think of the unfinished work today? The building has gone through so many dilemmas, yet still rising. My only hope is, I live to see the final completion, now, that would be a spectacular view!