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La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudí, 1882 - present, Barcelona

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La Sagrada Familia, or Holy Family Church, is Antoni Gaudi's most ambitious work, and construction is still ongoing.
La Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, Spain

La Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona, Spain

Photo © Rainer Walter Schmied/iStockPhoto.com
La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is one of Antoni Gaudí's most impressive works. This enormous church, as yet unfinished, is a summary of everything that Gaudí designed before. The structural difficulties he faced and errors he committed in other projects are revisited and resolved in Sagrada Familia.

A notable example of this is Gaudí's innovative "leaning columns" (that is, columns which are not at right angles to the floor and ceiling). Previously seen in Parque Güell, leaning columns form the structure of Sagrada Familia's temple. When designing the temple, Gaudí invented an extraordinary method for determining the correct angle for each of the leaning columns. He made a small hanging model of the church, using string to represent the columns. Then he turned the model upside down and... gravity did the math.

The ongoing construction of Sagrada Familia is paid for by tourism. When Sagrada Familia is complete, the church will have a total of 18 towers, each dedicated to a different religious figure, and each one hollow, allowing the placement of various types of bells which will sound with the choir.

The architectural style of Sagrada Familia has been called "warped Gothic," and it's easy to see why. The rippling contours of the stone façade make it look as though Sagrada Familia is melting in the sun, while the towers are topped with brightly-colored mosaics which look like bowls of fruit. Gaudí believed that color is life, and, knowing that he would not live to see completion of his masterpiece, left colored drawings of his vision for future architects to follow.

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