Sunday, December 8, 2013

Part I: Gaudi in Barcelona

Antonio Gaudi (1852-1926) was a famous architecture that brought Barcelona to international fame, with his crazy architectural designs.  The never ending construction of Church of Sagrada Familia is well known across the world.

Standing on Munjuic, the high point where you can see the entire city of Barcelona, Church of Sagrada Familia is one dominating structure.

Gaudi was the architect who conceptualized the design of this church, and he himself finished a small portion of it, over a long period of 40 years!

Nativity Facade, Church of Sagrada Familia

Nativity facade, one of the 3 facades of the church, was designed by Gaudi before his death.  The facade describes the story of, as you know, Nativity, the birth of Jesus Christ.

Close-up Of Nativity Facade

The story is really simple.  You have Virgin Mary cuddling baby Jesus in her arms, with Joseph standing by them.  On one side, you have the 3 wise men bringing gifts to the baby Jesus.  Simple story, simple sculptures, then why did it take Gaudi 40 long years just to finish this one facade?

Sea Turtle

Actually, it was intended.  Gaudi put two turtles statues at the base of the facade, one land turtle, one sea turtle.  The reason is to indicate that the progress WILL be slow.  The justification was that you must take all the time needed to have a perfect work.  When it comes to work for the home of God, it is even more important to be slow.  Well, I will express my own opinion to that justification later.

Just to show you how slow Gaudi made it to be, let's look at the following two scenes.

Virgin Mary riding on a donkey

Slaughter of Babies by order of King Herod

In the first scene, describing Virgin Mary bringing baby Jesus to some place (I am not so familiar with the bible story here, please let me know if you can help), riding on a donkey.  Gaudi spent a year just to get the right donkey.  What do you mean the right donkey?  He insisted on a particular donkey, how particular it should be?  Nobody knows, it was by Gaudi's feeling.  He had to FEEL right with the donkey.  After a long search, and found Gaudi's 'particular' donkey, he insisted to lift the donkey up to the height of where it stands now to make the live model.  You can imagine how uncooperative the donkey would be.

Next, let's look at the second scene, which describes the slaughter of babies by the order of King Herod.  The soldier who is going to throw the baby to death was modelled after a drunkard in Barcelona at the time.  Gaudi insisted that this evil soldier must be modelled after some bad guy in the city at that time.

Now, do you have an idea of why it took so long?

Interior of Church of Sagrada Familia

Gaudi conceptualized the interior of the church to be a forest.  The pillars represents the trunks of trees, with branches spreading out at the top.  And it does feel like you are in a forest, minus the fresh air, of course.  The design is so unique that I don't think you will ever find another church that looks even faintly alike.

On the opposite side of the Nativity facade, it is the passion facade, which is modern addition and designed by another architect.

Passion Facade

In the Passion facade, the architect honoured Gaudi by having his face carved onto one of the characters as shown in the photo above with the red circle.  It was said to be the face of an old Gaudi, which looks a bit different from the young Gaudi.

Well, enough of Gaudi for one day, let's continue with another entry.

You can find all my Spain-Portugal-Gibraltar trip blog posts here.

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