The World’s Most Beautiful Construction Site – Barcelona, Spain Trip #1

September 20, 2011 at 12:32 pm | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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Itchyfingers have seen this church on posters, calendars or books many times. But nothing beats seeing the real thing for ourselves. When Itchyfingers stepped out of the adjacent train station (with the same name as the church) on our first day in Barcelona, we were kinda surprised that the church was just in front of us, sitting next to a busy road. Couldn’t help but let out a “wow”. It was huge. Much bigger than I had expected.

Hola! Welcome to Sagrada Família, the world famous Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Spain. Designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852 – 1926), it is perhaps most well-known as a yet-to-be-finished, work-in-progress structure; with construction commencing more than a century ago, it is expected to take a few more decades before it can be fully completed. Why did it take so long to complete? Well, Gaudí was said to have remarked, “My client is not in a hurry.” When Gaudí died in 1926, Sagrada Família was only between 15 and 25 per cent complete. I think Gaudí must be quite a perfectionist to want to have things done to his satisfaction rather than rushing it out to meet deadlines.

The reason we were wowed, besides the impressive and sheer size of the building, was that we were also taken back by the number of tower cranes and scaffolds hanging over and around its spires. I don’t think I saw these on any of those glossy prints…The photographers could have avoided the ugly sight when they took the photos during the long interruption periods in construction, or they could have been digitally removed.

Sagrada Família – the world’s most beautiful construction site….

The massive construction site is an UNESCO World Heritage Site

1882 was the year when the crypt of the church, funded by donations, begun

Built between 1908 and 1909, this was a provisional building destined to 
be a school for the sons of the bricklayers working in the church. One of the
features of this small building is the undulation of both its walls and roof. 
This allows thin wall to become stiffer and achieves the effect of dispersing
rain water down the sides

One of the two shops. We missed this as it was already closed by the time
we were done taking photos inside the church. Visited the smaller one on
our first visit though

Even the lamp-post across the road is so ornate

Then we saw something moving…You mean we could get up the church?

A check on the admission information. It costs 12.50€ (about S$21.50) per 
adult and an additional 2.50€ (S$4.30) for the lift charge. Or you can pay
16.50€ for entrance with an audio guide. Do try to go early in the morning
as queues can be quite long 

I love the logo too!

We didn’t gain admission into the church interior on our first visit as it was already late afternoon. With only about two hours before closing time at 6 pm, it would be a waste of money and too rush for us to appreciate the church. The next morning we went early only to find out that the lift was not operating due to the light drizzling. It was really a very light drizzle so we were quite disappointed. Itchyfingers finally visited Sagrada Familia on our third day in Barcelona…

Actually at first look, I thought the church looked a bit messy from the Nativity
Façade here. Constructed between 1894 and 1930, it was the first façade to
be completed

But look carefully at the details and you would appreciate the beauty of these
sculptures, which are dedicated to the birth of Jesus

Itchyfingers are neither Christians nor Catholics, but we are still appreciative 
of such beautiful sculptures 

The sculptures were 
characteristic of Gaudí’s naturalistic style, and were
ornately arranged and decorated
 with scenes and images from nature.
Can you see the fish and birds here?

A little lamb and dog with people in prayer

The Tree of Life. Looked like Christmas Tree huh? :p Originally, Gaudí
intended for this façade, and every statue
 and figure to be painted with a
wide array of colours. But I think I much
 prefer them this way…Otherwise
the colours may be a bit jarring…

Each window was decorated with such intricacy too

The sculptures also reflected the way of life, like this artisan working 

Or the harsher side of life. Not sure if this scene came from biblical stories…

Music as leisure and entertainment

But I dun quite like the use of copper on the sculptures as they looked so
out-of-place. But I guess it was chosen so that it would not break off easily
with the passing of time 

But this has to be my favourite!

At the base of each of the two large columns separating
 the three porticos
was a big tortoise. “One tortoise represents the land and the other
the sea;
each are symbols of time as something set in stone and unchangeable.”

The two reptiles found at either side of the façade are symbolic of change

According to Wiki, “Gaudí chose this façade to embody the structure and decoration of the whole church. He was well aware that he would not finish the church and that he would need to set an artistic and architectural example for others to follow. He also chose for this façade to be the first on which to begin construction and for it to be, in his opinion, the most attractive and accessible to the public. He believed that if he had begun construction with the Passion Façade, one that would be hard and bare (as if made of bones), before the Nativity Façade, people would have withdrawn at the sight of it.”

You would understand why Gaudí said that when you walked over to the West side of the church…

To the west was the Passion Façade, which was a stark contrast to the Nativity

It was plain and simple, with harsh, angular straight lines carved
onto the stones. I would say it looked more modern…

“Dedicated to the Passion of Christ, the suffering of Jesus during his crucifixion,
the façade was intended to portray the sins of man.”

No wonder there were so many of these grumpy faces…

More…I think these should be scenes from the bible too…

Even the shapes of the animals were less organic

“Construction began in 1954, following the drawings and instructions left by
Gaudí for future architects and sculptors. 
The towers were completed in 1976,
and in 1987 a team of sculptors, headed by 
Josep Maria Subirachs, began

work sculpting the various scenes and details of the façade.”

Gaudí intended for this façade to “strike fear into the onlooker.” The use of
“dark angular shadows contrasted by harsh rigid light was to further show
the severity and brutality of Christ’s sacrifice.” The warrior figure on the
left could also be seen on his other works

The warriors

Faceless figure next to the warrior at the middle of the façade

Can’t remember where was this, but it could be on one of the walls. Notice
the sketchy etched-out warrior figures…Actually looked quite contemporary…

Forgot where was this also, but it looked like some secret codes to me…hahah 

Person hiding behind the pillar…

I like this door…looked like those old letterpress plate…

The details…This cryptogram (the orange box) showed a grid of numbers.
There are 310 combinations to arrive at a total of 33 – Christ’s age when he died

It was here where Itchyfingers finally entered the grand church on our third visit. So how does it look like inside? Do follow Itchyfingers on our next post to find out more!


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