This is a couple of stories up the side of the Sagrada Familia. This structure was started in 1882 and is still under construction. Gaudi had originally planned for 18 towers, a forest of spires for his cathedral. One can only imagine.
No pictures really can show what an impact this astounding structure has when you stand in front or within it. The thing is, it doesn’t quite correspond to anything else in your experience. You are awe struck, dumbfounded, incapable of fitting it into your limited conception of the things that people build. Its unique and absurdly large. And, it is quite difficult to photograph. Its amazing that these religious structures, and there is no doubt that Gaudi’s intent was such, he consulted extensively with church authorities delving into the philosophies, the mysteries, and yet, these have become secular shrines. They have become monuments of aesthetics; reminders of how mundane most artifacts are.
Every bit of this is covered with engraving and figures. Its organic in the true sense of the word, seeming to spring from nature rather than any linear mechanistic plotting. More like those tall termite mounds in Africa, formed by mandibles and paste and saliva, rather than the army of humans that laboured on the ediface.
Below is a shot of the interior, which you experience as a vast expanse of pure white. The outside is kind of eggshell with every surface covered with figures and patterns but inside it is clean and smooth. It is impossibly large and when we were there, it was filled with the sounds of workmen and you could only wonder how many more years they would be at their task.
One last thought. Barcelona was bursting at the seams with buildings at this time and for a few decades after and despite what seems an obvious cultural acme, it is only because of a belated cultural recognition in New York, and the remonstrations of Salvador Dali, that much of this remains. A subsequent movement decried these incredible achievements as passe and had gone so far as to begin tearing down some of these magnificent buildings. Thanks to the interventions, restorations began, and because of that, Barcelona became one of the great global centres for art.
It was reported that in 1910, Clemenceau was invited to give a speech in this city but when he arrived, refused to, saying that he couldn’t in such a city of “harebrained diversity”. Well, as they say in Britain, who’s he when he’s at home.
But here’s a teaser for more insanity, more fine madness, more Gaudi to come.