Being perpetually surrounded by the ordinary things of everyday life made me a bit unprepared for the reaction I had when I experienced my first man-made marvel. Never had I felt in awe of the “genius” behind a calculator, or the “inventiveness” of automatic doors, but when I stepped out of the metro station and onto the Barcelona street, my eyes climbed from the pit of the ground to the astronomical tower of La Sagrada Familia, and I knew I was finally in the presence of man’s genius.
The structure was confounding at first sight, the cranes and construction sheets surrounding it added to the ambiguity and it was impossible to make out the details of it, or what it was in essence, but I was baffled by its uniqueness just the same. Knowing that its construction began in 1882 and wouldn’t be completed until 2026, I was curious as to what secret majesty lay inside this colossal edifice so I grudgingly paid the costly entrance ticket (17 euros) and the answer to my query flooded my eyes with a watery reverence.
It was a heavenly aurora, the sunlight glistened through the glass-stained windows forming a hazy multi-colored spectrum in the air, angelic voices hymned their devotional musical repertory that echoed down from the high ceilings, columns as tall as tree trunks reached miles of altitude until they bloomed into floral carvings at their peaks, and alas people were no more intimidating than the most insignificant ant.
My camera, try as it would, had no hope of capturing the extent of this massive structure in one frame any more efficiently than my eyes could. Each time I pointed the focus, it was only a minor feature it could conceive of, which had me revel in the inhuman power the architect Gaudi dominated to think up such a - miracle. Perhaps this made him worthy of his nickname “God’s architect”.
Everywhere it seemed spoke of the relationship between the architect and nature. There are tortoises at the base of the exterior columns, the six inclined columns framing the passion scene are inspired by sequoia tree trunks and the interior ornamentation is meant to resemble trees and branches. His skills as a mathematician are also unveiled in the many combinations of geometrical shapes, such as paraboloids, helicoids, conoids and ellipsoids. (Which I of course I had no prior clue of). Reading about the artist's life too made the whole basilica more spectacular. To think Gaudi died from a tram accident and was not sent to the paramedics in time because he was disregarded as a peasant due to his humble attire. It was a tragedy perhaps that he did not see his creation come to life, although even he knew this would be the case because he designed it knowing it would take over 100 years!
At the conclusion of my visit, I highlighted La Sagrada Familia on my bucket list as a must-see instead of crossing it out. I will visit it again in 2026, when it is fully completed, to marvel and worship the full grandeur of Gaudi's genius.
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