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The Sagrada Família, or Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, is a Roman Catholic church located in Barcelona. The church was designed in 1883 by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, who was inspired by a mixture of Gothic and Art Nouveau styles. The construction of the Sagrada Família was very slow, and by the time of Gaudi’s death at the age of 73 in 1926, the project was only one quarter complete. The construction progressed so slowly because it relied on private donations, and because the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War proved a major impediment. Construction resumed in 1950, passed the midpoint in 2010, and has an estimated completion date of 2026.
Still, UNESCO has named the church a World Heritage Site, and Pope Benedict XVI consecrated it a minor basilica in 2010 despite its incompletion. Architectural critic Paul Goldberger stated that the church is “the most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages.” The basilica is a major point of contention among Barcelona denizens, however, because some fear the finished product may compete with the Barcelona Cathedral, or the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia.
The Sagrada Família is especially outstanding not only for its colossal size, but also its four distinctly different facades. The Nativity facade, completed in 1930, features ornate and heavily decorated sculpture depicting the birth of Jesus and images of nature. The Passion facade, dedicated to the Passion of Christ, is very bare and simplistic compared to the Nativity facade, and illustrates in minimalist fashion the final days and hours of Jesus’ life. The Glory facade, construction of which began in 2002, is dedicated to the Celestial Glory of Jesus and will act as the main entrance to the central nave. The three facades of the Sagrada Família both contrast and complement each other to make the basilica a truly revolutionary and unprecedented aesthetic experience.