Antonio Gaudi, Architect

Antonio Gaudi, Architect

Toledo, Spain

Toledo, Spain

Spain is being talked up in my art workshop. A trip is planned in September to visit Madrid and Toledo. It will include a visit to the El Greco Museum and exploration of the works of El Greco that adorn so many sites in Toledo. The old Town is also a treasure of churches, museums, synagogues and mosques set in a labyrinth of narrow streets and plazas in a lofty setting above the River Tajo. There will be opportunity to paint and go on photography walks, engage in lectures and excursions to Toledo venues within walking distance from the 4-star Hotel. Included is a mid-week coach to Madrid to tour the famous Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums. The trip sounds magical. My memories were jostled of my travels to Barcelona a couple of years ago and the fascination I experienced with Gaudi’s work. From 1915 Gaudí devoted himself almost exclusively to his magnum opus, the Sagrada Família, a synthesis of his architectural evolution.

Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia exterior

After completion of the crypt and the apse, still in Gothic style, the rest of the church is conceived in an organic style, imitating natural shapes with their abundance of ruled surfaces.

Sagrada Familia nave roof detail

Sagrada Familia nave roof detail, notice the columns projecting forward

He intended the interior to resemble a forest, with inclined columns like branching trees, helicoidal in form, creating a simple but sturdy structure. Gaudí applied all of his previous experimental findings in this project, from works such as the Park Güell and the crypt of the Colònia Güell, creating a church that is at once structurally perfect, harmonious and aesthetically satisfying.

Reptil Parc Guell, Barcelona

Reptil Parc Guell, Barcelona

The Sagrada Família has a cruciform plan, with a five-aisled nave, a transept of three aisles, and an apse with seven chapels. It has three facades dedicated to the birth, passion and glory of Jesus, and when completed it will have eighteen towers: four at each side making a total of twelve for the apostles, four on the transept invoking the evangelists and one on the apse dedicated to the Virgin, plus the central tower in honor of Jesus, which will reach 560 ft in height.

Details exterior Sagrada

Details exterior Sagrada

The church will have two sacristies adjacent to the apse, and three large chapels: one for the Assumption in the apse, and the Baptism and Penitence chapels at the west end; also, it will be surrounded by a cloister designed for processions and to isolate the building from the exterior. Gaudí used highly symbolic content in the Sagrada Família, both in architecture and sculpture, dedicating each part of the church to a religious theme.

One of Gaudi's drawings of Sagrada Familia

One of Gaudi’s drawings of Sagrada Familia

During Gaudí’s life only the crypt, apse and part of the Nativity facade were completed. Upon his death his assistant Domènec Sugrañes took over the construction; thereafter it was directed by various architects. Jordi Bonet i Armengol assumed responsibility in 1987 and continued as of 2011. Artists such as Llorenç and Joan Matamala, Carles Mani, Jaume Busquets, Joaquim Ros i Bofarull, Etsuro Sotoo and Josep Maria Subirachs (creator of the Passion facade) have worked on the sculptural decoration. Completion is not expected until at least 2027.

The idea of this historic blog writing began in 2010 with the encouragement of my writer colleagues in CTRWA. These writings and descriptions are meant to be an aid in the development of settings.

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