La Sagrada Familia, A story with a little bit of drama. Part I
If you´re planning to tour in Barcelona, there are so many things to consider. While organizing a trip to our wonderful city and its world-famous Basilica de la Sagrada Familia (a MUST-see, of course), you may feel a little overwhelmed with all of the attractions and destinations. You’re probably considering the perfect time and date, booking the tour, even looking for restaurants nearby…but what about Barcelona’s rich history and its magical background?
Yes, I’ll say it: Sagrada Familia is pure MAGIC in so many ways: why that specific neighborhood was chosen for its construction, who funded the construction (and why), the role of Antoni Gaudí, and so on…but, mostly, why the heck is it taking so long to finishing building the structure? The answer is a familiar one: DRAMA! Put a little bit of drama in your life, and you’ll get hooked on the movie! Hahaha
Barcelona’s Attraction by excellence!
It’s pretty much the same situation here, so grab some popcorn and enjoy the film!
Once upon a time, there was a guy named Josep Maria Bocabella. He was a devoted bookseller and Barcelona City native. He founded a religious association dubbed Association of Devotees of Saint Joseph in 1866. After a few trips to Loreto and Rome, he, like someone who makes a route through the clubs of Ibiza, was inspired. He decided to begin construction on a national church devoted to Saint Joseph and the “Holy Family” (aka la Sagrada Familia) in what was the outskirts of Barcelona at that time. Sounds crazy, right? True story, I promise!
Consider the scenario: a small but fast-growing city, stretching from the sea towards the mountains after its walls were demolished in 1854. The Industrial Revolution was booming, causing thousands of farmers to leave the Spanish countryside for new work in the textile factories. Two social classes, the upper society, and the workers were facing issues about social inequality, riots, wealth, communism, and religious disbelief. All of this was converging at the same time and place. Perfect conditions for chaos!
Coming back to our main character, Mr. Bocabella, he chose a location in a newer part of the city, the Eixample (expansion), and, after some time, finally bought some property with the funds and the approval of his association’s 500,000 members. Not a bad deal so far, right? But…what about the drama? Here it comes! Drama Number One: The Architect.
The founder, bookseller, and promoter of Sagrada Familia chose an architect from the Catholic Church itself, Francisco de Paula Villar. Wait a minute…that’s not Gaudí! Where is the world-famous architect? It’s like ‘The Crown’…Lady Di never appears in season one! Same for Gaudí!
Francisco de Paula designed a regular neo-Gothic church, the trendy style of his time. And yet, it was somehow dated…too dated. The first cornerstone of Sagrada Familia was placed on the 19th of March 1882. However, the relationship between Bocabella and de Paula was doomed from the very beginning… there was just no chemistry. They argued about pretty much everything, including materials, expenses, style…they were the Kardashians of the 19th Century! Hilarious and dramatic at the same time, the architect was kicked out of his own project in October 1883.
And so comes the next round of drama…who is going to replace the lead architect? Who is brave enough to take the challenge? The answer…wait for it!
Bocabella had a troubleshooting guy (who doesn’t, right?) name Joan Martorell. He was an old architecture professor with a keen eye on his students. With this talent, he saw the potential of a particular young lad, a former student with crazy visionary ideas. That student had also collaborated with him on many projects. Only thirty-one years old and that rookie was flying solo, already designing and building a unique Art Nouveau building in the Gràcia area, the Casa Vicens. If you haven’t seen it, for the sake of the story, please check it out!
It seemed like a perfect choice: the founder wanted a different vision, someone capable of breaking away from old ideas…neo-Gothic style was becoming an outdated and boring style for a church. No to worry, though; the new lead architect was picked in November 1893, the young padawan. His name was Antoni Gaudí.
I know you want some more gossip, so go ahead and check the sequel to see how it goes…
See you in my next post!
In case you haven’t been there yet, I’ll leave a map to help you find the location 😉