La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia, nativity facade
La Sagrada Familia, nativity facade

It is impossible to capture the experience, either in words or in images, of visiting La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. This strange marvel is incomparable to anything that has come before. It’s the Gothic reimagined with Mediterranean flair.

The devout Catholic architect, Antoni Gaudí, began work on La Sagrada Familia in 1883 and eventually dedicated himself entirely to its construction. He also created the models by which his successors could complete the work. It is still ongoing.

La Sagrada Familia, west aisle

Depending upon what time of the day you visit, different windows filter the sun’s light and project their colors throughout the space. This is the late afternoon sun coming through the western windows. Gaudí, it is said, was obsessive about the windows and gauging how much light would enter the church.

La Sagrada Familia, light from west windows in late afternoon

Above, two friars walking through the nave, near the western windows.

La Sagrada Familia, nave near altar

Gaudí was inspired by nature, replicating its forms in all of his works. In this case, the column supports for La Sagrada Familia are inspired by trees in a forest. As you can see, the columns branch-out from the nodes upward. This allowed Gaudí to give the church plenty of support from the inside, instead of having to use buttresses on the outside, and the forest-like design gives an aesthetic wonder to the space, instead of several uniform bulky columns. This is considered one of Gaudí’s greatest technical achievements.

La Sagrada Familia, nativity portal

The above photograph is a detail of the Nativity facade, designed and built under Gaudí’s direction. The liveliness to the scene is typical of Gaudí. The Holy Family is in the middle, where the doorway arches come together. The three wise men are on the left, and shepherds are on the right. Angels playing musical instruments are above.

If you didn’t watch it when I first posted it, you should see this short documentary, “God’s Architect,” from CBS News:


Images: All of the photographs are mine. You are free to download for private use. If you want to republish, my permission is required.


  1. From NASCAR to surreal Spanish cathedrals – even by the standards of your blog, that’s quite a jump! 😉

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