After grabbing a quick pastry at a nearby shop, we took the subway (Metro) to a part of town known as Eixample, where an amazing sight awaited us, the unique church known as La Sagrada Familia (“The Holy Family). Work on the church began in 1882 and is still going on, with a hoped for completion date of 2026. The edifice is the magnum opus of a Catalan architect known as Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926). It was 25% complete when he died, after 43 years of labor on the project. Gaudí was a deeply religious man who desired to build a church that communicated God’s message to mankind. When questioned about the excessive length of time for its construction, he replied, “My client is not in a hurry.”
The church, a blend of Gothic, Catalan Modernism, and Art Nouveau, has three facades (two over the transepts and one at the entrance to the nave). The Nativity Facade was essentially the only finished part when Gaudí died. The Passion Facade was completed only in 2005, and although Gaudí’s general design was followed, the sculptures which adorn this facade are stark and modern. The Glory Facade, which will eventually be the main entrance to the church is still under construction.
The interior’s floor plan follows the traditional plan of the shape of the cross. The nave’s roof is 150 feet high. It’s columns are constructed like trees whose branches support the vaulted ceilings. The stained glass windows are such that the morning light shines through blues and greens (and other cool colors), while the setting sun shines through warm tones, like red and orange. Gaudí attempted to (and succeeded) make the church organic, blending nature with architecture. It was consecrated and declared to be a basilica by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, and services are occasionally held. After an audio-guided tour at ground level, we ascended one of the towers on the Passion Facade where grand views awaited.
After lunch at a nearby McDonalds, we took the Metro to the Passeig de Grace, to view La Pedrera and the Block of Discord which contains a group of Spanish Modernist buildings. It has been named the block of discord because each of the three modernist architects attempted to outdo the other.
We hopped back on the Metro to the Plaça d’Espanya. From there, we walked up past the National Museum of Catalan Art to make our way to the Joan Miró museum. Our sore legs and feet were not happy when we got a little lost, adding quite a few more steps and uphill climbs to our already challenging stroll. But, eventually we arrived and enjoyed a walk-through of the Fundació Joan Miró, which contains the best collection in the world of the modern Catalan artist, Joan Miró. His work is usually classified among the surrealists, but he definitely set the table for the abstract expressionists. While I don’t find his art beautiful or inspiring, it certainly is interesting. He worked during a time in which traditional, representational art was rejected in favor of celebrating the creative potential of the unconscious mind. The temporary exhibit focused on the game of chess and Marcel Duchamp (and other contemporary artists) who were very involved in the game and incorporated it into their art.
After our fill of Miró, we took the funicular down Montjuic where the museum was located and hopped on the Metro back to our hotel for a little rest. After a short rest, we headed out for Tapas once again. The next day, Wednesday, the 8th, we would leave on a train for Madrid.