Sagrada Familia, part II
The drama goes on…
Previously on Sagrada Familia…
A bookseller, Josep Maria Bocabella, had a revelation after roaming around some major churches and decided to create a unique church devoted to Saint Joseph in Barcelona. Unfortunately, some major problems appeared on the way, until a superhero architect Antoni Gaudí showed up and…SPOILER ALERT!
Keep reading for more drama HAHA
Gaudí accepted the commission of the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia in November 1883 and, at first, made minor changes to the project, because he was on trial for a few months. But like Lady Di, he was one of a kind and he was not gonna remain silent forever. Little by little the first area under construction, the crypt, began to change, adding more light and naturalist elements, typical features of Art Nouveau, the trendiest style ever back then.
However, more funding was required and the explosion was yet to come. Ten years later, a big fat check arrived at the Sagrada Familia Fund with more than half a million pesetas of the time, about a million dollars nowadays. Who was the donor? Some rumors say that Bocabella left all his fortune to his beloved church at his death in 1892. Call the FBI, it is still unknown!
Gaudí got out of his mind with all that bling bling, his wet dream became a real possibility. Since he was a workaholic, of course, that fantasy and life goal was re-shaping Sagrada Familia (did you expect any other option anyway?). And he did amazingly as we can see nowadays…
The new Sagrada was stunning (tallest church ever, peak at 172,5m, 3 full facades with 18 towers, apse, 5 naves, and so on), using the finest materials, and with a new superstar, Jesus instead of Joseph. It was so complete, even Gaudí knew he wouldn’t finish the church during his life, for that he established major guidelines and designs and left room for the newer generations. Everything tied up…or so he thought. The never-ending story, like Dr. Who? Plot twist! It is Drama Number Two: Death & War, but since this one is a big-time drama and we all know what happens in war we’ll skip this sad part.
Driving the Delorian, let’s jump ahead to 7th June 1926. The head architect Gaudi left Sagrada Familia and went for a mass at Sant Felip Neri church in Barcelona City Center. Coming back from the service, at a crossroad, something terrible happened.
Gaudí wasn’t paying attention to both sides of the street, thinking in the clouds, the Instagram stories back in the day, and then…BOOM! A tramway ran him over, he fell down to the floor, unconscious and covered in blood. Poorly dressed and with a long hipster beard, he looked much more like a Goya painting character and less like an architect. No one recognized him, and taken by a homeless man, he was moved to a charity hospital where he was barely attended.
Over two days, Antoní Gaudí became the most wanted person in town and nobody could find him. On the 9th of June, one of Sagrada Familia chaplains came to visit patients and found him by pure luck in very bad shape. Despite the best efforts of the monk, a conscious Gaudí refused to be moved to a better hospital and died on the 10th June like a John Doe. Of course, his death and funeral service became a demonstration of pure drama, and Gaudí was buried on the crypt of Sagrada Familia and was given a farewell by 12000 people.
Fortunately, he had left plenty of 3D models, plans, documents, and cool stuff for the following architects but yet another plot twist was about to come. Ten years later, in 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, the anarchists attacked the Sagrada Familia and sacked and rioted the architect’s workshop, leaving nothing but destruction. The Nativity facade was damaged, the construction was stopped, the country was in really bad shape and there was no money to resume. How do they manage to continue? MAGIC!
After the war, some of the workers and collaborators of Sagrada Familia reunited, rebuilt some of the broken models, and piece by piece, little by little, in a huge brainstorming, reconstructed the project from scratch. It was a pure miracle, and since then, each generation has been adding new funding through donations and ticket fees, new technologies, new materials, new techniques, all complying and making reachable the 2026 completion goal. The Sagrada Familia will be completed to commemorate the centenary of Gaudí’s death…
But, wait a minute, La Basilica de la Sagrada Familia is closed because of the pandemic, and construction has been stopped for almost a year. That means…Surprise! Drama Volume III: COVID-19
To be continued…
Thanks so much for living these moments with me, see you in my next post!