Monday, April 30, 2012

Beautifully Gawdy Gaudi: La Sagrada Familia

Traveling to Barcelona for business, and specifically busying myself with the drama and intrigue of a liver disease medical conference, I mostly saw the beautiful and the raw sites of the city from the intestinal confines of a speeding taxi. An avid admirer of architecture, I was advised by many to attempt to visit at least one Gaudi piece, so, on my free Saturday afternoon, I sauntered with my colleague Sallie to the infamous and exquisitely bodacious cathedral La Sagrada Familia.

Walking through the large, thick doors into the atrium, then moving slowly into the wide, open, lofty congregation area, I almost stopped breathing; the tranquil bombardment of light and structural detail, of meticulous craftsmanship and an aura of silent spiritual worship, was truly daunting. Bending my neck backward in a nearly futile attempt to absorb as much of the ceiling as possible, I was in utter awe of the tessellating pattern of acute angles, sharp and harsh, yet delicate. Unlike many traditional Gothic cathedrals and Byzantine basilicas,  whose caverns are visually stunning, but dark like the hidden bowels of some creature, the exceptional high ceilings and interplay of colored and clear light in this space created a soft brilliance.

From the main tourist entrance, the massive body of the building is decorated with sculpture scenes, sliced from stone. As with the ceiling, the figures have a fascinating geometric quality to them, angular and strong, which juxtaposes with an equally compelling organic quality and a warm humanity in their expressions and movements. Mischievously crouching demons, warriors preparing for battle, followers and believers who adorn their visage with the beauty of their fear and sadness. It is as though they live, and merely choose to suspend their activity, their visible motion through the quotidian. Evolved from the rock, the mineral composites of their being, these figures almost appear as though they were discovered, just so, among the quarry of other rocks and boulders.

Not exactly marring the beauty of the building, though certainly obscuring it, much of the outer building is clothed in scaffolding and construction debris. The cathedral is still in progress, over one hundred years after its inception and conception. Continual growth and change seems appropriate for a design that draws so much inspiration from organic elements.

Carved into the heavy door, this geometry and linearity of this supine figure mirror.

Fragrant and vibrant lavender scattered throughout the gardens at the foot of this stunning monument; the perfume permeating from the blooms was heavenly.


  1. cute!!!

  2. Gorgeous! Getting to do a little sight seeing while away for medical conferences was always the best part of my job :)

  3. Barcelona for business? Can I have your job please? That all looks so incredibly beautiful

  4. Gorgeous shots - such a beautiful building!

    Courtney ~

  5. When we were in Barca last July we didn't go inside. Such a pitty now that I see what it hides! x

  6. these photos are stunning! i feel like i was there!

    xoxo from nyc &

  7. Lovely description of La Sagrada Familia! Should I ever have the chance to go to Spain, I will definitely make a point to visit.