Monday, August 3, 2009

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

My friend, Kenny, recently visited Barcelona, so naturally I asked him to check out the gift shop of the Sagrada Familia for any souvenir buildings. Sold in the shop was a partial replica of 5 of the towers, but nothing of the entire structure (which is not yet completed). He did photograph a spectacular metal model of the church which was displayed in the basement museum. He knows of my passion for miniature buildings and joked about breaking the glass, hiding the replica and spiriting it out of Spain for me. However, he feared almost certain arrest, so he resisted the urge. Sigh. Oh well, this will be just another souvenir building that got away. I already own the replica of the 5-tower front. It’s made of cast metal with a silver finish, stands high and is mounted on a marble base. I’ve also seen similar versions made of pewter and without the marble base. The first time I saw Gaudi's architecture in person, I was not sure what to make of it. It certainly is not like anything else I had seen before. What also struck me about Gaudi's architectural style has such a biomorphic appearance utilizing organic shapes.It’s also so ornate and so much happening in the design, I began to wonder if the term "gaudy" was derived from Gaudí due to its over-the-top look. However, it’s not true because the word gaudy dates back to the 16th century. The real Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (official Catalan name is: Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia; "Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family"), often simply called the Sagrada Família, is a massive, privately-funded Roman Catholic church that has been under construction in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain since 1882. It is not expected to be complete until at least 2026. Considered the master-work of renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926), the project's vast scale and idiosyncratic design have made it one of Barcelona's, and Spain's, top tourist attractions for many years. A portion of the building's interior is scheduled to open for public worship and tours by September of 2010. Antoni Gaudí worked on the project for over 40 years and devoted the last 15 years of his life entirely to the endeavor. On the subject of the extremely long construction period, Gaudí is said to have remarked, "My client is not in a hurry." A devoted Catholic, Gaudí abandoned secular work in his later years and devoted his life to Catholicism and Sagrada Família. He designed it to have 18 towers - 12 for the 12 apostles, 4 for the 4 evangelists, one for Mary and one for Jesus. He spent the last few years of his life living in the crypt of the "Sagrada Familia." On 7 June 1926, Gaudí was run over by a tram. Because of his ragged attire and empty pockets, many cab drivers refused to pick him up for fear that he would be unable to pay the fare. He was eventually taken to a pauper's hospital in Barcelona. Nobody recognized the injured artist until his friends found him the next day. When they tried to move him into a nicer hospital, Gaudí refused, reportedly saying "I belong here among the poor." He died three days later on 10 June 1926, at age 73, half of Barcelona mourning his death. He was buried in the midst of La Sagrada Família. After Gaudí's death, work continued under the direction of Domènech Sugranyes until interrupted by the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Parts of the unfinished church and Gaudí's models and workshop were destroyed during the war by Catalan anarchists. The present design is based on reconstructed versions of the lost plans as well as on modern adaptations. Since 1940 the architects Francesc Quintana, Isidre Puig Boada, Lluís Bonet i Gari and Francesc Cardoner have carried on the work. The current director and son of Lluís Bonet, Jordi Bonet i Armengol, has been introducing computers into the design and construction process since the 1980s. Sculptures by J. Busquets, Etsuro Sotoo and the controversial JosepSubirachs decorate the fantastical façades. I was in Barcelona many years ago and visited the Sagrada Familia. I was not collecting souvenir buildings at that time (wish I was), but was already a fan of architecture. My first impression of Gaudi’s work was it looks biological. His designs seem to grow from the earth with flowing lines and biological orbs. What do you think of the Achitect Antoni Gaudí’s work? Do you know of other replicas of his buildings?


Anonymous said...

I have a few of these myself. Most the facade. But one or two are the entire Cathedral.

To bad about the model in the cathedral. Wonder who made it? SD

Anonymous said...

I had visited the Sagrada Familia site myself back in 2007 but missed buying a miniature replica of the building. Is there a site online that I can purchase one? I'd really love to add it to my collection as well. Thank you.

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