It's been 128 years since the first brick of Antoni Gaudi's La Sagrada Familia was laid and the church has finally been consecrated by a pope. A few days ago, the walls of the one of the world's strangest cathedrals were anointed with chrism oil and incense was burned at the altar. Pope Benedict XVI praised Gaudi (who died when he was hit by a tram in 1926) by saying the architect "brilliantly helped to build our human consciousness, anchored in the world yet open to God, enlightened and sanctified by Christ."
The church has been in a perpetual state of construction for decades and is almost always surrounded by towering cranes and scaffolding. Architects and builders are usually busy pouring cement and hammering away on the main floor but despite all their hard work, La Sagrada Familia is not expected to be finished until 2026, the centenary anniversary of Gaudi's death.
The writer George Orwell was not a big fan of the massive oddity. In 1937 he remarked, "For the first time since I had been in Barcelona I went to have a look at the cathedral -- a modern cathedral, and one of the most hideous buildings in the world... Unlike most of the churches in Barcelona it was not damaged during the revolution -- it was spared because of its 'artistic value,' people said. I think the Anarchists showed bad taste in not blowing it up when they had the chance."
Like much of Gaudi's work, I love the cathedral for its homage to Nature (I've always regarded La Sagrada Familia as more pagan than Christian) and for its eccentricity. Here are some snaps I took of the church during my numerous visits to Barcelona over the past three years.
Me (far right) with friends on the church's bridge during 080 Barcelona Fashion