Too much Gaudi


Church of the Sagrada Familia, begun by Gaudi in 1884. It is hoped to finish it in 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.

I can’t take any more Gaudi! The Sagrada Familia seems monstrous and demented from the outside, although the interior, with its forest of branching arches, is sublime. I’m trying to compare its never-ending expansion to the generations-long building of mediaeval cathedrals, but this one seems to have outlasted its time. And so many tourists (including myself); as it’s an expiatory church, our entrance fees pay for much of the work. A pact with the devil!

But the continuing construction seems to enthral current architects and craftsmen in the same way it did Gaudi; even after official retirement, they can’t keep away. And the newer work – the windows, for example – is beautiful. But . . . is it not time to stop? How many towers does a church need? Is it in competition with Ulm? In the Sagrada Familia I saw the sketch of what Gaudi had intended for the church in Colonia Güell: even if it had been possible to realise it, the final building would have been grotesque and overbearing.

But what do I know?

So, things I did like: turtles, tortoises, cockerels and Gaudi’s view of the manifestations of the natural world as glorious products of God’s creation. The column-supporting turtle (left) and tortoise (symbol of stability) on the nativity façade reminded me of the Secession Building in Vienna (right):

It was a relief to go to the Park Güell – the failed garden city estate – and enjoy the park – which has become too successful for its own good and now has to limit visitors to the raised esplanade. But there are reasons why it is so popular:


Gingerbread and barley-sugar gatehouses!

No doubt it’s churlish of me to imply that Gaudi should have stuck to private or secular commissions, but for a humble and modest man he certainly had some vainglorious schemes.

No chance of getting a photograph of the famous mosaic lizard unmolested by its many fans, but here are some unexpected pleasures.  The “swallows nests” and “tree trunks” supporting upper paths:

a bit of the sinuous bench:


and the strange colonnaded undercroft with its eggshell undulations:


I now need some straight lines – preferably in beige.

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