Barcelona’s Unfinished Fairytale Cathedral

You’d think that a building that was started back in 1882 would be finished by now, but the Sagrada Familia, a cathedral with a fascinating history, is still yet to be completed nearly 130 years after work on it first began.

The cathedral would probably have ended up looking pretty much like any other Catholic building is the eccentric Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi hadn’t got involved in the project just one year after work on it first commenced.

Gaudi’s buildings, of which there are some fine examples in Barcelona, resemble semi-melted gothic edifices which seem to have warped out of shape. His buildings and both fanciful and fantastical, and his Sagrada Familia represents the apex of his life’s work.

To catalogue the cathedral’s design into a particular style is impossible, as it is sort of art nouveau meets medieval gothic and goes mad. Some people find the building to be unseemly and ugly, whilst others consider it to be the work of an architectural genius.

Whatever your opinion, the Sagrada Familia is undeniably fascinating, and when the eye scans the facade there are always interesting little bits upon which to ponder; to appreciate; or to dismiss. For a building whose purpose is to unite a congregation the Sagrada Familia is actually quite divisive.
Suffice to say, Antoni Gaudi was not your run-of-the-mill architect, but an imaginative genius who took his time to design his creation.

In fact, one of the difficulties confronting the builders, and those architects who have taken on the mammoth task of completing the cathedral, is that Gaudi didn’t really leave any plans. Instead he would sculpt 3D models, and the builders would have to work out how to realise his designs.

Construction of the cathedral has been held up many times, by a variety of causes. Firstly, there was a setback caused by Gaudi’s death. He was hit by a tram in 1926 and never recovered. Work was stalled during the Spanish Civil War, and didn’t re-commence until the 1950s. Work is still been carried out on the cathedral, and, despite it not being finished, it has already been consecrated and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There are plans to finish the cathedral by 1926, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death. However the recent installation of a commuter railway which runs underneath the cathedral may have caused some damage, which would interrupt work on the building.

If you do visit Barcelona, seeing Gaudi’s buildings and statues is a must, as they are like no other buildings you would have seen outside of fantasy films.

As yet it is not compulsory for every visitor to Barcelona to visit Sagrada Familia but it should be; as it nears completion it is easy to see that this impressive building can certainly hold its place amongst the greatest buildings in the modern world.

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