Sagrada Familia Church

ORIGINS: 1866-1882

The origins of the Expiatory Church of La Sagrada Família go back to 1866, the year when Josep Maria Bocabella i Verdaguer founded the Spiritual Association of the Devotees of St Joseph, which from 1874 promoted the construction of an expiatory church dedicated to the Holy Family. In 1881, thanks to generous donations, the Association bought a plot of land with a surface area of 12,800m² between Carrer de Marina, Carrer de Provença, Carrer de Sardenya and Carrer de Mallorca for the site of the church. The foundation stone was laid on 19 March 1882, the feast of St Joseph, at a solemn event presided by the bishop of Barcelona, Josep Urquinaona. Building then began with the crypt beneath the apse after a neo-Gothic design by the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano. A short time later, owing to disagreements with the promoters, he resigned and the commission was handed over to Antoni Gaudí.

GAUDÍ: 1914-1926

After 1914, Gaudí devoted himself exclusively to building La Sagrada Família, which is why there are no other major works from the last years of his life. He became so involved that he lived his last few months right next to his workshop, a room beside the apse used for making scale models, doing sketches and drawings, as a sculpture studio and a space for photographic work, amongst others. In 1911 he planned the Passion façade and in 1923 the definitive solution to the naves and roofs. The works advanced slowly, though, and Gaudí said: "There is no reason to regret that I cannot finish the church. I will grow old but others will come after me. What must always be conserved is the spirit of the work, but its life has to depend on the generations it is handed down to and with whom it lives and is incarnated". On 30 November 1925 the construction of the first bell tower of the Nativity façade, dedicated to St Barnaby and 100 m high, was finished. This is the only one that Gaudí lived to see built, since on 10 June 1926 he died as a result of a tragic accident three days earlier, when he was run over by a tram. On 12 June he was buried in the Carmen Chapel in the crypt of La Sagrada Família, where his remains still lie today. All those years, a large number of architects, draughtsmen, sculptors and model makers had worked on the project with Gaudí. Among the architects were Francesc Berenguer, Joan Rubió, Domènec Sugrañes, Josep Maria Jujol, Josep Canaleta, Francesc de Paula Quintana i Vidal, Josep Francesc Ràfols, Cèsar Martinell, Isidre Puig i Boada, Lluís Bonet i Garí, Francesc Folguera and Joan Bergós. Among the draughtsmen was Ricard Opisso, and among the sculptors Llorenç Matamala, Joan Flotats, Joan Matamala, Carles Mani and Pau Badia. The most notable constructor was Agustí Massip i Brassó; the locksmith was Joan Oñós; the ceramic elements were made by the Pujol i Bausis company in Esplugues de Llobregat; the woodwork by Jaume Munné; and the ironwork by the Badia brothers.

DEATH: 1927-1938

When Gaudí died, the management of the works was taken over by his close associate Domènec Sugrañes, until 1938. Later directors were Francesc de Paula Quintana i Vidal, Isidre Puig i Boada and Lluís Bonet i Garí, all associates of Gaudí, people who knew the master and who directed the works until 1983. After that Francesc de Paula Cardoner i Blanch and then Jordi Bonet i Armengol became director. Since 2012 is Jordi Faulí i Oller who has occupied the post. In 1930 the bell towers of the Nativity façade were finished and in 1933 the Faith door and the central cypress. In July 1936, at the time of the military uprising and the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, revolutionaries set fire to the crypt, burned the Temporary Schools of La Sagrada Família and destroyed the workshop. At that time the original plans, drawings and photographs were lost, and some of the scale plaster models were smashed. We should point out, however, that since Gaudí's intervention in 1883 and in spite of those acts of vandalism the building of the church has never stopped and has always  respected the will of the architect's original design.

PRESENT: 1986-2013

Since 1986 the sculptor Josep Maria Subirachs has been in charge of producing the statues and sculpture for the Passion façade, which have been executed in accordance with his very personal style over the last 25 years. In 2000 the vaults of the central nave and the transept were built and work began on the foundations of the Glory façade. That year, on the occasion of the new millennium, a mass was held inside the church which provided an opportunity to grasp the grandiosity of the work. In 2001 the central window of the Passion façade was completed with the installation of a stained glass window dedicated to the resurrection, the work of Joan Vila-Grau. The four columns of the centre of the crossing were also finished. The figure and work of Gaudí were especially remembered in 2002, when Barcelona Council promoted International Gaudí Year on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of his birth. La Sagrada Família took part with different events, such as the restoration, removal and opening of the Sagrada Família Temporary Schools as a new exhibition space, or the "Night of Light and Fire", a show held on 1 June which, with its special illumination and a spectacular castle of fireworks, was the highlight of the commemoration. In 2002, the sculptor Josep Maria Subirachs did the project for the wall of the prophets and patriarchs which Gaudí located in the porch of the Passion façade, and in 2005 the sculpture of the Ascension was placed between the towers of the façade. At the same time, the eucharistic symbols of bread and wine were placed on the windows of the central nave, the work of the Japanese sculptor Etsuro Sotoo. In 2006 the Glory façade choir was built according to Gaudí's models. The vaults of the ambulatory of the apse were finished in 2008. Between 2008 and 2010 the vaults of the crossing and the apse has been completed; on them the tower of the central lantern crowned by a cross 170 m high will be erected, and the apse tower, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The central tower will be surrounded by four others, dedicated to the evangelists. The principle on-going tasks and those of the coming years are the construction of the first sacristy (on the western side), and the central towers (those of Jesus Christ, the four Evangelists, the Virgin Mary, and the five already started). The church will be complemented with the construction of the main façade, the Glory façade.



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