Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sagrada Familia: Gaudi's surreal ode to Christianity

Barcelona's Sagrada Familia remains a work in progress.
The lovely Miss Wendy and I have spent the last several weeks wandering about the Mediterranean.

We've walked along cobblestone streets in quaint and beautiful seaside villages and strolled up and down serpentine alleyways filled with ancient secrets; enjoyed glorious and transcendent sunrises peeking above the eastern horizon and fiery sunsets melting into the sea.

Our days have been filled with exotic sights and smells, the stuff of life for people in Italy, Spain, and the Azores; places like Cinque Terre and Pisa, Barcelona and Malaga, Ponta Delgada and Horta.

It's been an adventure, a journey filled with something new and exciting at every turn; and if there's been any meaningful work in the effort, it's been mostly about the creation of memories.

Columns twist and turn inside the expansive cathedral.
All of this is a long and rambling way to wax poetic about the Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi's stunning ode to Christianity in Barcelona. Construction on the Basilica began in 1883 and it remains a work in progress.

It takes center stage in a working class neighborhood, surrounded by shops and restaurants catering to tourists and across the street from a park where locals can be spotted playing bocce ball!

Like hundreds of other churches in Europe, it's a spiritual and artistic blend of stained glass windows, soaring columns and cathedral ceilings, intricate sculptures and elaborate ornamentation.

Unlike other such places of worship, Gaudi's vision seems pulled from the fertile and fevered imagination of an artist on drugs. It's a surreal happening of columns that twist and turn bizarrely as they soar to heaven, surrounded by biblical scenes chiseled with modernist precision and whimsy, all cloaked in vibrant colors filtered through stained glass windows framing the expansive space.

At the heart of all this beauty and madness is a statue of Jesus on the cross, soaring high above the floor of the structure, a beacon for pilgrims and tourists. He offers up a vacant stare, just one of the complex pieces making up this bizarre and wondrous place

No matter your belief or spiritual path, La Sagrada Familia is worth a visit. It's a transcendent, spiritual happening for the faithful, an artistic masterpiece for non-believers and lovers of art and a fully realized essay on the human condition for philosophers and poets.

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