Antonio Gaudi and The Holy Family Review by Isabel del Rio

Antonio Gaudi and The Holy Family Review by Isabel del Rio
Isabel del Rio

Antonio Gaudi and The Holy Family in Barcelona. Review by Isabel del Rio

Antonio Gaudi and The Holy Family Review by Isabel del Rio

Antonio Gaudi and The Holy Family Review by Isabel del Rio

The most famous work by Spanish architect Antonio Gaudi is The Holly Family in Barcelona, so big as a cathedral, so complicate to build. Still unfinished, The Holy Family filled Antonio Gaudi life.

Although today it can surprise, The Holy Family was not Gaudi idea and he was not the architect who started the works.

‘Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family’ was the idea of a very religious bookseller, Josep Maria Bocabella. In 1866, he had founded the Spiritual Association of Devotees of St. Joseph. Through the protection of St. Joseph, the association wanted the strengthening of the Catholic Church in a time of growing secularism and social changes.

In 1872, Bocabella visited the Pope in Rome. Returning home, he passed through Loreto (Italy) and he observed its beautiful church. Then, he had the idea of making an expiatory temple in Barcelona dedicated to the Holy Family, as a replica of Loreto church.

At the beginning, Bocabella looked for land in the city center, maybe a donation. Finally, the association bought a property of 12,800 square meters in the block delimited by Marina, Provenza, Mallorca and Cerdeña streets.

In 1877, the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar offered to draw the plans for free. Del Villar project was totally Neo-gothic: a church with three naves and with the crypt oriented according to the orthogonal axes of the block. Bocabella was happy.

Nevertheless, money is always a demon and some years later, Bocabella and del Villar quarreled by the budget. Thus, Bocabella proposed the young Gaudi as successor to Del Villar. Gaudi had collaborated with the council on some successful projects.

Antonio Gaudi (only 31 years old) took over management of the construction right away. In those moments the columns were being made and only a couple of them had reached the height of the capitals. Gaudi modified Del Villar project making more naturalist capitals, and he opened a trench around the crypt to allow light and direct ventilation.

The most spectacular would be the towers. Above each facade there will be four towers dedicated to the twelve Apostles. A central tower, the tallest of all, will be dedicated to Jesus Christ. Around this one, the towers of the four Evangelists, and the tower over the apse will be dedicated to the Virgin. The towers would have a parabolic profile and include helicoidal stairways, allowing the middle part to be hollow for the placement of tubular bells placed as carillon. Then, the sound should combine with the voices of the choirs.

Yes, fantastic! And we could be hours explaining all of the marvelous ideas of the mystic Gaudi. But, of course, a unique life is not enough to build such a giant church.

Gaudi died in 1877 hit by a tram. Less than a half was built. 150 years later, The Holy Family still is unfinished and this unfinished work is maybe a better symbol for Barcelona. The symbol of a future which must be build generation after generation. Go on!

Read also the article Art and design http://yareah.com/design-art-history-tendencies/

More about the author: http://www.isabeldelrioyareah.com

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Isabel del Rio

Managing Editor at Yareah® Magazine. Author of ‘Ariza’ (2008) and ‘The Girls of Oil’ (2010)

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