Through My Lens: La Sagrada Família

Sagrada Família

For the Third Sunday of Lent, we’re moving on to Barcelona.

Most European cathedrals were built centuries ago. The cornerstone of this one, Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, was laid a mere 131 years ago in 1882. Except for a stoppage during the Spanish Civil War, construction has continued ever since. The basilica is the final work of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, the face of Modernisme, who spent the last decades of his life working on the structure.

When finished (estimated to be in about 15 years), La Sagrada Família will have 18 spires and will be the tallest cathedral in the world. There will be three facades, two of which have already been completed: the Nativity façade and the Passion façade. The Passion façade, which faces west, was sculpted by Josep Maria Subirachs and is particularly moving.

I visited La Sagrada Família with a friend in October 2001. After we left what is essentially the largest construction site either of us had ever seen, we took the metro back to our hotel. Sitting across from us was one of the cathedral’s stone workers, covered in white dust, heading home after his work day. I marvelled at the thought of spending your entire career working on one project. And I felt honoured to be riding the metro with an old-school master craftsman.

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