Barcelona, Spain: La Sagrada Familia

As we concluded our visit to Gaudí’s Casa Battló, we walked over to another one of his masterpiecesLa Sagrada Familia. In 1882, construction on La Sagrada Familia began with its first architect, Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano. However, due to various disagreements and conflicts, Antoni Gaudí was asked to take over the job in 1883.

To give some background information about Antoni Gaudí, he was born in 1852 and died in 1926 a few days after being hit by a tram. Nobody recognized him since he appeared to be a “beggar” due to his clothes, so he did not receive the immediate treatment. By the time somebody recognized who he was, his condition had deteriorated, and he unfortunately passed away within a few days at the age of seventy-four.

Alongside the church is a museum that showcases the numerous stages of La Sagrada Familia’s construction. One of the walls in the museum highlights a quote from Gaudí (pictured below), and it has since stuck with me. The quote states, “We must all contribute, as it has to be the church of a whole people.” Even after Gaudí’s passing, construction of La Sagrada Familia has continued, and his dream for the church is still, to this day, becoming a reality. Its expected completion date is set for 2026, so there is much to look forward to!

People from all over the world come to see La Sagrada Familia, and both the beauty and spiritual energy that fill the church are truly incredible. There are no words to describe how breathtaking the church is—inside and out—and the fine details in every nook and cranny are immaculate.

The structure of the church is quite interesting. Once completed, “The design will be completed with four domed structures, some 40 metres high, sited at each corner: two sacristies on the northern side; and on the southern side the baptistery and the chapel of the Holy Sacrament and Penitence. These four constructions and the three facades will be linked by a wide, covered corridor, with a double wall, referred to as a cloister by Gaudí, which will insulate the central nave from noise from the street, and allow circulation from one building to another without the need to cross the main nave.

Gaudí’s plan was for a group of 18 towers: 12 shorter ones on the facades (bell towers which will be 100 metres high, representing the Apostles), and six taller ones in the centre in a pyramidal layout reflecting the hierarchy of their symbolism. Of these, the tallest will be the one above the central crossing, representing Jesus Christ, reaching 172.5 metres in height. It will be surrounded by four, slimmer, 135-metre-high towers representing the four Evangelists and their Gospels. A further tower will cover the apse and will represent the Virgin Mary.

Gaudí wanted to construct a building that would make an impact on the skyline, but also show his respect for the work of God, which in his opinion should never be superseded by man: at 172.5 metres tall, the Sagrada Familia is one of the tallest religious buildings in the world but remains a few metres below the height of Montjuïcthe highest point in the municipality of Barcelona”(http://www.sagradafamilia.org).

Day 1 In Bratislava, Slovakia

Today we had the opportunity to leave Vienna for the day to see Bratislava, which is the capital of Slovakia. It was only two hours by bus from where we were staying in Vienna, so we took advantage of the opportunity.

Upon arriving, one of the first things we noticed was the fact that there is a lot of graffiti art all around the city. It turns out that the city actually designates open walls for locals to graffiti because they want people to express their artistic abilities without being punished for doing so. Therefore, graffiti art is legal in Bratislava, which was definitely unique to hear. We also noticed various columns built throughout the city. During the 17th century, the black plague swept through the city, so these columns were built with the Virgin Mary on top of them for the locals to pray to.

Bratislava is known as the coronation city and the city of the Habsburg monarchy since the 17th Century also consisted of the Turks taking over Budapest and Hungary. For this reason, coronations would take place here, including the coronation of Maria Theresa (who has been mentioned in prior posts). Throughout the city, you can see pictured crowns on the ground, which shows the coronation route.

There used to be a Jewish synagogue where we began our tour (pictured below), but it was taken down in 1967 because a new bridge had to be built for transportation purposes, and was completed in 1972. As we continued walking, we came across a memorial commemorating the Slovakian Jews who were taken to the concentration camps and to Poland since Poland was the closest country to transport them to. The word “Remember” is written on the bottom of the memorial.

As we continued walking, we came across fortification walls from the 13th century. We then spotted a building currently owned by the city that used to be a pharmacy back in the day. On the wall, there is a sign in German, Slovak, and Hungarian which is proof that the Slovaks could speak three languages during the Habsburg monarchy.

Nearby on the Royal Street, we saw a house where the noble Keglević family used to reside. Their daughter wanted to learn how to play the piano, so Beethoven actually came to their palace and taught her how to play.

Moving along, we passed by “Bird Fountain.” Red wine came out of the fountain during coronations, so all of the locals would come to drink from the fountain for free. After they finished drinking, the locals were said to have sung like birds, hence the name Bird Fountain.

Shortly after, we stopped at a building where Mozart played for Maria Theresa when he was only six years old. Following his performance, everyone in attendance clapped, and in his excitement, Mozart jumped on Maria Theresa and hugged her. Those in attendance immediately stopped clapping in shock because Maria Theresa’s own children didn’t even hug her in public, but much to everyone’s surprise, she hugged Mozart back.