Inside the unfinished temple

On 11 July 2010, the Sagrada Familia was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI and elevated to the status of a basilica. It is not, as some assume, a cathedral as it is without a bishop’s headquarters. But the huge dimensions of the interior is worthy of that status.

Stepping inside the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família is like stepping into an enchanted forest. Tall trees towering above us; their branches creating a canopy. The streams of coloured light; the verticality and the enormous, seemingly empty space takes your breath away. At first I didn’t know what to look at, where to begin the tour, what to focus my camera on. Double-storey height windows flood the space with a light never before seen within a church.

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The nave is a sight to behold. A work of mathematical genius with natural light flooding in through clear glass leaded panels to allow as much light in as possible.

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The columns are modelled after a forest and form a light canopy of palm leaves.

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I’m not going to go into all the symbolism of the basilica, you can find that out for yourself, instead I shall just let you have a look at some of the bits that caught my eye and where I could actually get a shot without dozens of people in the way.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe apse contains the altar, but this section was being worked on so we couldn’t get too close. Your eyes are drawn to the dramatic suspended crucifixion with a large ‘parachute’ dome from which artificial grape bunches and wheat stalks hang as symbols of the Eucharist, in which wine and bread are consecrated as religious symbols.

altar

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The main access bronze door that Josep M. Subirachs created for the Glory façade is a masterpiece of using typography as art.

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The centre of the Prayer Door is inscribed with the Lord’s Prayer in Catalan with relief letters, and highlights the fragment ‘Give us, o Lord, our daily bread‘  (Translation from original Catalan: ‘el nostre pa de cada dia doneu-nos-el avui‘) and 49 other languages

The greens, blues, yellows and reds of the light coming through Joan Vila Grau’s stained-glass windows form shifting patterns of light and colour across the stone.  Gaudí left several documents explaining how the stained glass windows should be arranged in order to achieve a symphony of evocative light and colour.

Gaudí said that colour was the expression of life.

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The stained-glass features modern geometric shapes are sometimes overlaid with the names of saints. The windows on the lower part of the side aisles are brightly coloured, whereas those on the upper half are in lighter, almost translucent colours.

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The windows on the Facade of the Passion, which are dedicated to water, light and the Resurrection are mostly blues, yellows and greens.

The windows on the Nativity facade allude to the birth of Christ, poverty and life and are mostly reds and yellow.

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A pretty clam-shell font containing holy water rests on curved wrought-iron supports. Everything here is considered,

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even the curve of a spiral staircase leading to the upper floors.

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The basilica is a continuing work of art; the culmination of many years by many talented architects, sculptors and master craftsmen following Gaudí’s instructions. You could spend countless hours, days, even years studying the details of the Familia Sagrada and still not discover everything about it.

One has to wonder what Gaudí himself would think about it today? And what does it now represent?

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Published by

Heyjude

I now live back in the UK, but spent several years travelling the world and then living in South Africa. I look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

28 thoughts on “Inside the unfinished temple”

  1. To say that it is impressive inside is too much of an understatement. It will undoubtedly be seen as something of a wonder of the world in times to come.
    Best wishes, Pete. x

  2. Not easy to get original shots of this but you’ve succeeded admirably, Jude. I especially like that close up that looks like a big golden marigold 🙂 🙂
    You’ll be pleased to know your man sailed through easily last night.

  3. It’s truly beautiful. And you’re right, it would take years to inwardly digest all it has to offer. Great pics as usual but your capture of the stained glass is outstanding x

  4. Wonderful post – it is without doubt one of the finest buildings I have ever set foot in. The light is as good as the architecture in some ways. The one makes the other. Everyone should have the chance to see this first hand. It takes your breath away.

  5. It’s such an amazing place isn’t it and difficult to know where to look first its so awe inspiring. So you’d like to return in ten years, me too I think, but then I won’t be walking back down from the roof!

    1. It is definitely a Wow! Tess. I have visited many cathedrals and churches but nothing like this one. The windows are magnificent and unlike most of the older church buildings, not blocked by anything.

  6. Having looked at your photos, I can appreciate your comment about not knowing where to start. If these are just snippets of the bigger, grander scene, then well … wow. Just wow!
    The use of the coloured glass to signify different elements and events is really interesting and likely one of those details I would have missed completely.

        1. Me too! You can always repeat something if you need to. Some of my favourites are those done by English Heritage around places like ruined abbeys when you get the sounds of monks chanting, praying and having conversations over breakfast. I can almost visualise them going about their business.

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