Literature review is about best architectural construction of Sagrada Familia an expiatory temple by Antoni Gaudi

Home, - Antoni Gaudi’s Church: Sagrada Familia


Antoni Gaudi Cornet (1852 - 1926) was an architect from Catalonia, Spain. He is one of the best known Catalan Modernism Practitioner. His working style was very different from other architectures of that time. Most of the architectural buildings constructed by Gaudi are located in Barcelona. His work was very much influenced with nature and religion. Goudi’s architecture was also inspired by oriental arts (India, Persia and Japan). In his crafts, he contemplates about every small details of ceramic, glass, carpentry and ironwork. He also used waste materials in his constructions. Gaudi known to be atheist until he turns 42 years. After 42 years of age, he dedicated all his life and time in praying to God and working for Sagrada Familia. Antoni Gaudi is most loved architect of Catalans (Nonell & Levick, 2000; Lahuerta, 2003). 

An Overview of Sagrada Familia and its construction

Sagrada Familia is an expiatory temple and best creation of Gaudi. The architectural style of Sagrada Familia is modernisme. Sagrada Familia is also considered as Gaudi’s Masterpiece. Gaudi started working on it in 1883 and he was the chief architect. He incorporated Gothic and Curvilinear Art Nouveau forms in his architectural designs. When Gaudi died in 1926, only less than quarter of it was completed which means Gaudi devoted his whole life to this architectural work. It is still an incomplete Roman Catholic Church in Barcelona, Spain. Sagrada Familia was declared as UNESCO world heritage site in 2005. Sagrada Familia was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 and it is also proclaimed as minor Basilica. Till October 2015, about 70% of the work was completed. The Sagrada Familia construction work is still going on and it is anticipated to be completed by 2026. After the death of Gaudi, six more architects had worked for La Sagrada Familia. Computer aided design technology accelerated the speed of construction work. Construction of Sagrada Familia was totally depended upon donations in the past but now money from tourists who purchased ticket to see it is accrued for further work (Burry, 199; Crippa, 2003). 

Considering that the construction of Sagrada Familia took more than a century and still it is going on, and that its construction is funded by donation from Patrons, the statement made by Gaudi himself “My client is not in hurry” indicates that he was addressing God because he considers God as his client. Gaudi also stated that “A church is the only thing worthy of representing the soul of the people, for religion is the most elevated reality in man”. This statement of Gaudi was repeated by Pope Benedict XVI during consecration in 2010. La Sagrada Familia will be the tallest (560 ft) architectures of the world, at the same time, it is most controversial building in the world. Sagrada Familia’s size, design, time taken in construction is the few topics of contemporary debate. Here, all the controversies are going to be discussed (Burry, 2007). 

Sagrada Familia and its connection with Catalan Community

The Sagrada Familia preserves Gaudi’s artistic treasure most of which were retrieved from Catalania. As the construction of church was started in 1882 and Gaudi was dead in 1926; the construction of his La Sagrada will be going on till 2016, so artist treasure will have been transmitted to many generations. In 1936, Spain witnessed a civil war and revolutionist destroyed studio workshop, original plans, drawings, photographs and crypts of La Sagrada Familia by sting fire. So the controversy is that whether the work beyond 1936 is based upon the original architectural design of Gaudi or it is based upon speculations made by architectures of that time. Despite this, architects and historians say the construction going on is based upon original designs of Gaudi while others think it is completely based upon speculations of current architectures (Jimenez, 2016). 

Initially the construction of La Sagrada started with donations of few patrons and later on with public donations. Initial concept of building it was to build a church but later on it became a monument. So as a monument tourists are paying a good amount of money to buy a ticket and that money is used for further construction. The construction will be completed by 2026, beyond that who will take responsibility of that money. The public in Catalana donated money for its construction so it means that they will be attached to it and consider as one of their treasures (Jimenez, 2016).  

The great American architect Louis Sullivan (Father of sky scrapers) described Sagrada Familia as “spirit symbolised in stone”.  It means every stone of La Sagrada Familia is a symbol of a soul. One of the masters of right-angled architecture Walter Gropius praises Sagrada for its technical perfection (Marine-Roig, 2015). This thus gives Catalana a new image based on this value and perfection. It should also be noted that despite La Sagrada being a church, it is also considered as a community monument hence open to all people including the non-religious ones (Jimenez, 2016).

Barcelona (Catalonia) is known for its varied architecture, food, music and culture. La Sagrada Familia and Gaudi’s work got first public attention during 1960s and now it is the most transited area in the city of Barcelona. La Sagrada is most visited by foreign tourists. Approximately 3,000,000 tourists visit La Sagrada every year which is main contributor to the economy of Barcelona. Catalonia stands on second place among top twenty tourist destinations in whole European Union. In the whole world only Barcelona city has nine buildings as UNESCO world heritage sites; La Sagrada is one of them.  The most famous cultural symbols of Barcelona city are buildings designed by Goudi; La Sagrada Familia is number one among them (Cline, 2011; Robinson et al., 2006). . The construction of La Sagrada started for religious purpose only and first patrons who donated money were devotees of St. Joseph. Catalans think that La Sagrada has always been the expiatory church. Gaudi also said “The expiatory church of La Sagrada Familia is made by people and mirrored to them. It is a work that is in hands of God and the will of the people. George Orwell said about La Sagrada “one of the most hideous buildings in the world. He also states that during revolution most of the churches of Barcelona were damaged but La Sagrada was spared may be because of its unique architecture.  Sobrer believed that La Sagrada became an emblem of Barcelona. He also said that previously it was considered as temple of expiation but tourism change it into a secular place (Cline, 2011; Robinson et al., 2006). Therefore, it would be true to say that the church has a cultural connection.

The consecration of La Sagrada created controversies among various group of people of Barcelona. The people divided into two groups supporters and opponents of promotion of events in mass media and social media. The amazing fact about this controversy is, it was not about religious vs. Seculars but it was about economic cost vs. Economic benefits and terms of tourism promotion. The study by Marine-Roig (2015) suggested that people of Barcelona gave prominence to La Sagrada due to its tourism and heritage significance apart from the religious one. La Sagrada is local and national identity for Catalans. The study went on to establish that the consecration of La Sagrada provides a separate identity to Catalans for which they were fighting for more than 100 years. The basic design of La Sagrada Familia is symbolic to contemporary national and socio-political context of Catalonia. The author went on to note that the consecration of La Sagrada Familias Basilica by Pope Benedict XVI generated immense social, cultural and tourism related benefits to the people of Catalana. Gaudi’s architecture specifically complex symbolic structures and mythical structures reflect ideals of Catalan nationalism. 


There is no doubt that La Sagrada Familia is integral part of Catalonia. Even after the consecration of the La Sagrada secular tourism was increased in the Barcelona. Studies stated that some people of Barcelona believed high number of tourist is a problem, and the place cannot be used to offer prayers and meditation and such crowded places often loose spirituality. While others still believe this is a place of worship and religion, secularism can coexist here.  Further, the construction of La Sagrada provides national identity and economic benefits to the Catalans. Thousands of Catalan people got jobs in tourism industry and they are indirectly benefitted by La Sagrada. Yes, Catalans find pride over La Sagrada Familia and they revere it because of their love towards Gaudi and Catalan Modernisme architecture. Catalans also believe that La Sagrada is a visible sign of invisible God. Finally, it can be summarize as La Sagrada Familia is most outstanding artwork with unique characteristics of modern style of Catalonia.

Leave a comment


Related :-