If you Google for the 'new seven wonder of the world', your list will include:
Great wall of China in China, Taj Mahal in India, Petra in Jordan, Colosseum in Italy, Chichen Izta in Mexico, Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, Macchu Pichu in Peru.
And if your anything like me, my guess is, that almost any one would like to visit these places. But why are these considered to be the wonders of the world. How would it be to be a part of the era when these extra-ordinary structures were being built? What would it be like to witness history 'under construction'? If you are thinking these questions then head down to Barcelona!
One such monument or legendary building which is being built and is being studied even by the current day architects is – the Temple of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. It is one of Barcelona’s most popular tourist attractions and renowned architect Antonio Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece.
Paintings left by Gaudi on how the church should look like and present day Architects at work!
The structures that I listed above are wonders of world due to their brilliant architecture and engineering style. The world is in awe as to how these were built. Similarly, Temple Sagrada has great detail and complexity in its architecture and design. Its construction work began in 1882 and a year later Antonio Gaudi became the director, holding the post for nearly 40 years until his death in 1926. He transformed the temple with his distinctive style making it an exceptional piece of architecture. Though I am not an Architect and do not understand the architectural complexities, from a tourist point of view, Temple Sagrada is an interesting place to visit.
The easiest to appreciate and understand is the façade – external design of the project. The temple has three grand facades.
First, the Nativity Façade, the construction began in 1894 and was completed in 1930 and it was the first façade to be completed and showcases Gaudi’s direct influence. The façade faces the rising sun towards east symbolizing the birth of Christ. It is highly ornamented and decorated with scenes reminiscent of elements of life.
Second, the Passion Façade, the construction began in 1954, based on the drawings and instructions left by Gaudi for future architects. The façade faces the setting sun indicative and symbolic of the death of the Christ. In contrast to the highly decorated naturalist style of nativity façade, it is dedicated to the passion of Christ, the suffering of Jesus during his crucification, hence the façade is austere, plain and simple.
Third, the Glory Façade, the construction began in only 2002. It will be largest and most striking façade and will depict the Celestial Glory of the Jesus. Aware that he would not live long enough to see this façade completed, Gaudi has left general sketches of what the façade would look like.
Many aspect such as the interiors, altar, pillar, ceiling, windows, glass panes, stairs, towers everything has a story and makes it very unique.
Sagrada Familia’s construction started in 1882, a 130 years ago, it has progressed very slowly and was interrupted by Spanish Civil War. It was resumed in the 1950s and construction passed the mid point only in 2010 with some of the project’s greatest challenges still remaining. The anticipated completion date is 2026 – the centennial of Gaudi’s death.
When Gaudi died in 1926 the temple’s construction wad only 25% completed. During those days when he was asked about the extremely long construction period, he replied, ‘my client is not in a hurry. God has all the time in the world’.
It is interesting to note that the construction of Sagrada has spanned over three eras and it is not supported by any government or official church sources. Initial stages were funded by private patrons. Currently, the money from tickets purchased by tourists is used for construction. Although the temple is incomplete it is a UNSECO World Heritage Site and in Nov 2010 the church was consecrated.
Different elements designed uniquely - Gaudi's signature
I had read about the history and structure of the building like most tourists and was aware I would be seeing the Temple during my visit to Spain but only when I stepped off the taxi and was standing right in front of the temple that I was overwhelmed and realised that, it is a truly magnificent building, marvellous creation of Gaudi and an absolute must-see when you visit Barcelona.
Barcelona city view from rooftop of Sagrada
• Expect long lines at the entrance and lot of crowd (because it is the most popular touristic attraction in Barcelona!!).
• The audio tour is worth paying the additional euros (other than the entrance ticket). It gives you the story behind every detail of the temple structure.
• The roof top has amazing views of Barcelona city - don't miss that!
• The place is like a construction site with cranes, dust etc in some parts of the temple (as it is yet to be completed!!) so be prepared and wear comfortable walking shoes.
• Plan a good few hours to see this place if you want to understand and appreciate Gaudi's insight.