The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia is one of the most symbolic places in Barcelona and of Catholicism in Europe. That is why it was also one of the main targets during the recent attacks in Barcelona.
The history behind this iconic church is exciting. The impressive building is still under construction, and will not be completed before 2026, 154 years after its inception.
While much of the church has been built, many of its towers are still a work in progress. Each one will represent an evangelist or an apostle, with the two largest reserved for the Blessed Mother and Jesus.
Josep Maria Tarragona, Antoni Gaudí's biographer, says that the architect's idea was to take the 'altarpieces' to the facades, to bring Christianity to the street.
JOSEP MARIA TARRAGONA
Antoni Gaudí's biographer
'The exterior facades of the Sagrada Familia are facing the East, the South and the West. They are three great catecheses with all the figures and expressions: the childhood and the adolescence of Jesus' life in the East, where the sun rises; the Passion and the death of Jesus in the West, where the sun sets; and the Creation and the Last Judgment in the South, which is where the sun reaches its highest, symbolizing the sun and the light as Christ.'
Jose Manuel Almuzara thinks that Gaudí was not only a genius architect, but a model for Catholics. This is because he lived his faith with great coherence.
JOSÉ MANUEL ALMUZARA
President, Association for Beatification of Antonio Gaudí
'Gaudí tenderly makes this sculpture and does it in a way so that Mary presents the Child and the father is behind as protection. They are concrete details that can help people experience the journey of mercy in a real and close way.'
Japanese sculptor, Etsuro Sotoo, visited Barcelona in the late 70s. He was enthusiastic about the project and now works there to continue Gaudí's work.
'Why are we contructing the Sagrada Familia? It's a simple question: why do we build it? We do not seek the arrogant beauty of man. No. The Sagrada Familia is a tool to help build us.'
In 2010, Benedict XVI consecrated the basilica. He was shocked at how Gaudí united architecture and theology at a time when 'man intends to build his life with his back to God.'
The Sagrada Familia is, in any case, a reference for architects, and a place of inspiration for the four and a half million people who visit this masterpiece of our time each year.