La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain is Antoni Gaudi's masterpiece and it is still being built. It is unique among cathedrals. On the outside the style is hard to categorize, seemingly in disarray because of the continuous construction, but what is immediately apparent is that traditional cathedral expressions can't describe it properly. At first glance it might look ugly. Further scrutiny reveals a flow reminiscent of sand castles dreamed by a precocious child and poured from buckets of wet sand into fantastical shapes.
New Testament scenes dot the facade like three dimensional dioramas:
|Angel Gabriel Appears to Mary|
Angel Gabriel's annunciation to Mary,
the Killing of Innocents,
|Jesus - The Last Day|
Jesus bound, and
|Jesus is Crucified|
the Crucifixion, to name a few.
|Spiral Staircase Descending|
One of the spires is accessible via an elevator and descending down the spiral stair case reveals
Barcelona is heavily guarded by gargoyles.
The cathedral's organic nature is inviting and it's interior inspiring. A kaleidoscope of colors illuminates all and a hushed sense of awe permeates the space:
|Blue Stained-glass Window|
stained-glass windows cast filtered light onto new sandstone and the immensity of the space modulates
quiet expressions of worship.
Platonic shapes and simple geometries help to create an understandable, user-friendly place conducive to childlike wonder.
|Nave and Apse|
The Nave and Apse is a promenade of otherworldly columns evoking images of space, both alien and familiar. The colonnade leading to the altar seemingly expands and grows in magnitude halfway there with four columns taking up the bulk of the ornate ceiling. Yet each column is impossibly thin looking more like palm trees than stone.
|Gospel Supported Ceiling|
The four columns representing each of the Gospels are discretely named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, while the ceiling hints of a heavenly host and a multitude of chambers.
The Altar represents the Ascension. Gaudi re-imagined the iconography of the Crucifixion as a vehicle for Heavenly Ascension with Christ appearing to use the Cross while rising to the light above, focusing on a destination, real and divine; slender columns culminate in a brilliant apex on high: on Earth, as it is in Heaven. If a work of Art is to transcend the profane and usher in the sacred, this accomplishes it, however briefly.