La Sagrada

Initially, I hadn’t planned on going. But the opportunity arouse, and it was on my bucket list…. so why not.

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I had long been fascinated by Gaudi. Studying him in school always left a sort of mysterious aura about him and his work. I was never really overwhelmed by his apartment buildings even though they were pretty great. You know, taking on commissions to make a potentially run-of-the-mill boring building something fanciful and intriguing. I have to give the man his due. Very few people have had a share in Gaudi’s genius. And even fewer have been able to make their visions become tactile things.

In my mind however, I was clearly there for La Sagrada. The magnum opus. The slow-rolling epic adventure in modern Gothicism. Coming from an environment enveloped by the traditional trades, I would always catch myself wondering how I could place myself up on that scaffolding and get the chance to lay a block (construction began in 1882 and it’s still going). When I showed up at it’s front door the thought still lingered.

Interior sketch of the apse. La Sagrada.

Interior sketch of the apse. La Sagrada.

I was really impressed until I got home. I can see it now, but (fortunately?) I couldn’t see it then. Gaudi died in 1915, but while he was alive he poured his entire existence into La Sagrada. A pious man that went to service five times a day, and seemingly spent the rest of his life developing models and drawings. Each one more refined then the next. But it’s apparent when you look closely at the parts built after Gaudi’s untimely passing, that the project really suffered. Allow me to show you a comparison:

The East façade. Completed while Gaudi was still alive. Notice the florid, ornamented detail. Gaudi pulled his inspiration from nature and it is apparent. At his best, Gaudi's work looks like nature colluding with man to lift architecture from the earth itself.

The East façade. Completed while Gaudi was still alive. Notice the florid, ornamented detail. Gaudi pulled his inspiration from nature and it is apparent. At his best, Gaudi’s work looks like nature colluding with man to lift architecture from the earth itself.

The interior completed in 2010. Anyone who knows the building wouldn't think twice about it. Or at least I didn't. But look again.

The interior completed in 2010. Anyone who knows the building wouldn’t think twice about it. Or at least I didn’t. But look again.

The inside is of course beautiful. But it doesn’t hold a candle to what it should be. They need to bring the scaffolding back and spend ten years with a team of stone carvers turning this 8-bit Mario world into the verdant interior that should be. I guess it’s easy to say when I’m not paying for it, and considering the economy in Spain now-a-days I have to give the people of Barcelona the highest praise for their dedication to the project, but…. It’s just a bit sad to finish La Sagrada when it’s only half finished.

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