Barcelona is home to a lot of stunning architecture, much of which is of a style not really found outside of the region.
Casa Bonet and Casa Amatller
Casa Bonet by Coquillat
One great example of its unique character is the Block of Discord on Passeig de Gràcia in the Eixample district. This block has facades by four of the great Moderisme architects…yet each is perfectly unique.
It’s really hard to pick a favorite, though Casa Batlló is probably the most ostentatious and also the most famous.
Gaudí’s designs for the Sagrada Família church in Barcelona, Spain incorporate themes of nature in many ways. The columns look like trees, so that it feels like you are standing in a forest while in the church’s nave. (They also remind me of celery stalks a bit.) It gives you the same feeling of peace as if you were really surrounded by trees, with the light filtering down to the forest floor.
After some close-ups of architecture last week, let’s take a step back.
The cathedral in Palma de Mallorca, called La Seu there, is a classic example of Gothic ecclesiastical architecture. It was begun in 1229 and completed in 1601. The interior shows the expected grand nave, pointed arches, and rose window…with a few surprises.
Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí helped redesign some of the interior in the early 20th century. Over the altar is a canopy reminiscent of the one at Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
I’ve been wanting to write a little about some of things I saw in Europe last month, so I’ll start with my favorite site of the whole trip: La Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona, Spain. I have seen a lot of European churches, but I had never seen anything like this. I was totally blown away.
This was the most beautiful, inspiring church I have ever seen. (Even more so than St. Peter’s in Rome, which I also saw on this trip.) And it’s not even done yet! The church has been under construction for over a century and will not be complete for at least another 15 years or so.
The church has a true Gothic basis, building off the great Gothic churches of Spain, but it is buried under the layers of Modernisme style details. I was not expecting to love this church; I had thought it looked weird. Strange shapes, too many things going on, etc.
What changed my mind? In a word: feeling. Almost as soon as I entered the site, an incredible feeling came over me. It was in parts awe, peace, joy…really, these words are insufficient. The shadows on Jesus’s face as he knows he is about to die. The ethereal light filtering down through a forest canopy, like the primordial garden of Eden. The intricate glory of Mary’s assumption. I did not see the scriptures in Gaudí’s work–I felt them. Here was a man who took his talents and worldview and dedicated their beauty to God. If that’s not inspiring and fitting for a church, I don’t know what is.
View of the church from the Passion facade side. I edited out some of the construction cranes.
The Passion facade shows various scenes from Jesus’s death in very modern, austere style. Here, Pontius Pilate washes his hands as his wife walks away.
The church’s entrance from the Passion facade features this image of Jesus during his Passion. The doors have the relevant Biblical text in beautiful raised lettering.
The natural interior lighting is beautiful. It feels like you are walking in a giant forest with sunlight filtering down through the leaves.
The columns look like trees, or celery stalks.
This facade shows important scenes featuring the titular Holy Family (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph) in ornate detail with many images of nature