With its unparalleled Gothic architecture, Sagrada Família is the most stunning Roman Catholic church in the world. Located in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, the church has been under construction for over 160. Designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926), the church is as yet unfinished. However, Sagrada Família was still designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in November 2010, Pope Benedict XVI consecrated and proclaimed it a minor basilica. No longer classified as a cathedral, the church must be the seat of a bishop.
Combining Gothic and Art Nouveau forms, Gaudí devoted his last years to the project. At the time of his death in 1926, it was less than a quarter complete. Sagrada Família’s construction was interrupted again by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume slow progress for many decades. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with an anticipated completion date of 2026—the centennial of Gaudí’s death.
The church is composed of three major facades: the Passion facade, the Nativity facade and the Glory facade. Much of the ornate Nativity facade was completed by Gaudí himself. The Passion facade’s graphic nature and gaunt, tortured figures remain true to Gaudí’s original vision, meant to inspire fear and reverence.
The church’s interior is defined by incredible columns that reach majestically toward the ceiling. Gaudí’s plans called for 18 spires, as well as numerous towers, chapels, and portals. When built, the tallest spire, which symbolizes Jesus Christ, will secure Sagrada Família’s place as the world’s largest church building. Relished by the art community, one critic stated that the church is, “The most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages.”
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