Temple of the Sagrada Família by Gaudí
Written by Elisa Rodrigues
One of the most notable monuments in Barcelona and around the world is the Basilíca i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family), designed by the famous arquitect Antoni Gaudí. If you plan to visit Barcelona, the Sagrada Família Temple should be at the top of your list of things to see and visit.
It is Barcelona’s pride jewel and one of the most popular monuments in the entire world, visited by millions of tourists every year, a uncommon and distinctive temple, for its origins, foundation and purpose.
The beginnings of the Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada Família, designed by Antoni Gaudí, date back to 1866, when Josep Maria Bocabella i Verdaguer founded the Associació Espiritual de Devots de Sant Josep (Spiritual Association of the Devotees of Saint Joseph), which in 1874 began campaigning for the construction of an expiatory temple dedicated to the Holy Family only by donations.
This construction began with the crypt under the apse following the neo-Gothic design of diocesan architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, the Temple’s first architect. After one year, due to disagreements between previous arquitect and foundation, the position was offered to Antoni Gaudí. After taking over the project in 1883, first Gaudí built the crypt Maria do Carmo, which was completed in 1889. Then Gaudí started construction of the apse building. After receiving a significant anonymous donation, Gaudí considered a new and greatest design – he proposed a revolutionary design that was more monumental and innovational in its shapes, structures and building techniques.
Now, 137 years after construction began, Foundation hopes to finish the works in 2026, marking the centenary of Gaudí’s death. Five generations have watched the Temple progress in Barcelona. The money for the construction is obtained by the many visits to this Temple and various donations.
Gaudí wanted to express Christianity through the architecture and communicate the message of Jesus and his Evangelists. He obtained an extraordinary symbiosis between form and Christian characterization, with a new and unique architecture developed detailedly with logical structures, forms and geometries inspired by nature and geometry, with light and colours also playing a central role.
According with the Association of the Devotees of Saint Joseph “the meaning of the Sagrada Familia is communicated through the form and expressivity of its architecture and the iconography of its sculpture.“
The life and teachings of Jesus are represented on walls of the three façades. Each one represents one of the three crucial events of Christ’s existence: his birth and life (first façade), towards the sunrise; his passion, death and resurrection (second façade), towards the sunset; and his present and future Glory (third façade), towards South. As the sun moves across the sky, its light further emphasizes the qualities of each façade.
At present is finished two façades – first and second façade. Its missing to complete the third façade which will be the main façade, towards South.
The various architectural elements are endue with Christian symbolism. Each of its 18 towers has a special meaning. In the middle is the tower dedicated to Jesus Christ and around it are four towers representing the Gospels; the books containing the life and teachings of Jesus. The tower above the apse, crowned by a star, represents the Virgin Mary, while the remaining 12 towers represent the 12 Apostles, four in each façade.
These 18 towers will provide a sense of elevation to the central tower dedicated to Jesus Christ which will be the highest point of the temple with 172.5m high. Gaudí established 172.5m high because he considered it should be less than what we considered to be the work of God – the Montjuïc mountain, with 173m high, which is also the city’s highest point.
A structural function which reflect the idea of Gaudí that the inside of the temple should be like a wood, inviting prayer to connect with God and the divine worlds.
To lessen the load of the roofing and bring light into the building he designed skylights in between the columns, based on quadric surfaces, built using pieces of golden and green glass and tiles to reflect daylight inside. All the stained glass in the apse follows a plan of graduated tones to create an atmosphere suitable for introspection.
Antoni Gaudí i Cornet
Discussing the history of the Temple Sagrada Família would not be complete without speaking about Antoni Gaudí, one of the most famous arquitects around the world, master of the Catalan Modernism Movement. Gaudí, since 1883, dedicated 44 years to this project. From 1914, Gaudí devoted his time exclusively to Sagrada Família until the day of his death. Gaudí passed away in 1926, leaving his most important project, unfinished. He was buried on June 12 in the a crypt in the Sagrada Família Temple. Thanks to his architectural plans, his work continues by the responsibility of renowned architects.
Antoni Gaudí i Cornet was born on June 25, 1852 in Reus, Catalonia. He came from a family of boilermakers, a fact that allowed the young Antoni Gaudí to acquire a special ability to treat space and volume while helping his father and grandfather in the family workshop.
Antoni Gaudí was a Catalan architect who has been recognized internationally as one of the most prodigious experts in his discipline, as well as one of the greatest exponents of modernism, he is considered the master of the Catalan Modernism Movement. Its exceptionally groundbreaking genius was the architect of a unique, personal and incomparable architectural language based in organic and anarchic geometric forms of nature.
If you’re thinking about coming to visit Barcelona, Sagrada Famíla is one of the most . The three million visitors every year help support the project, which costs around 25 million euros annually.
For more additional information and tickets visit Sagrada Família official website.