So this is the structure that started my fascination with gothic architecture. It’s not quite the traditional kind. It is, after all, fairly new, following along the lines of Catalan modernism, but definitely heavy with gothic influence.
As I mentioned before, I was first introduced to Sagrada Família from an architecture book I came across while working at the campus library during my college years. It was one of those photographs where I had to do a double take. At first quick glance, it was just another one of those typical cathedrals, until I started noticing all the unusual details about it. There was definitely nothing traditional about it. On one side, it was ornate and over-the-top, the other was sharp and simple. I was intrigued.
From what I’ve read back then, Sagrada Família is the largest unfinished church in the world. Construction started in 1882 and is still ongoing. There are three planned facades based on the life of Christ (or the three original mysteries, if you’re Catholic), two of which are already constructed. One is the Nativity and the other is the Passion, both designed by two completely different artists, an architect and a sculptor, separated by two generations.
The original architect, Antoni Gaudí, died from an accident in 1926, just after the crypt, apse and part of the Nativity facade were completed. The sculptor who designed the Passion facade, Josep Maria Subirachs, was a bit more controversial as his sharp, angular designs were a huge contrast to Gaudí’s designs. I’m sure this bothers some people, as it does interferes with the continuity in the designs, but Gaudí had intended the Passion facade to be more on the simpler side. And considering the differences between the two narratives, I thought it was kind of fitting. Opulent and ornate for birth of Christ, sharp and cutting for the crucifixion. Very fitting.