Sagrada Família, the huge forest of Anthony Gaudí

by Montserrat Cardona

As a guide I’m passionate about our architect Gaudí and his achievements. Not stopping at the extraordinary surface aesthetics of his buildings, I would also like to tell you about the incredible structure that supports one of them: the Temple of the Sagrada Família.

Gaudí designed the structure of the building based on the number 7½. He thought it symbolized perfection, as a combination of the numbers 7 and 8. The number 7 is associated with Creation, the days of the week, the colors of the rainbow and the musical notes. It is the sum of the spiritual (the Trinity) and the material (the four directions). On the other hand, the number 8 represents infinity and universal equilibrium. All the measurements of the building are multiples of 7.5 meters. As an example, Jesus Christ tower, the highest one of the eighteen, will be 172.5 meters high. Within the tower there will be a spiral staircase and a glass elevator.

The ceiling of Sagrada Familia
The ceiling of Sagrada Familia

The temple’s columns are quite spectacular. The double-twist column, for example, is one of the architect’s more fascinating pieces. It begins as a star but ends as a circle. Columns come in various sizes: 15, 30 and 45 meters. The end effect is that standing inside the temple feels almost like standing in a forest. And as he did in other buildings, Gaudí used structures like hyperboloids and paraboloids in the Sagrada Familia, creating a most unique effect.

Antoni Gaudí dedicated more than forty years of his life to the project of the Sagrada Família. Since then, the temple has been built with donations. As he said: «It is not a disappointment that I will not be able to finish the Temple. I will grow old but others will come after me. What must be always preserved is the spirit of the work, its life depends on the generations that transmit this spirit and bring it to life.»

Enjoy a virtual tour:

Highlights of Barcelona’s old town

by Montserrat Cardona

The old town of Barcelona is divided into three neighborhoods: the Gothic, the Raval, and La Ribera. These neighborhoods are both windows into the history of the city and some of the liveliest areas in town.

Today we call the oldest part of the city the Gothic Quarter: Barcelona was founded by the Romans in the first century BC. We can still see the remains of their presence. One of the most important is the underground Museum of History of Barcelona, situated at Plaça del Rei (King’s Square), the spot that gives access to the remains of the roman city of Barcino. The square is surrounded by important medieval buildings, such as the Royal Palace and the chapel of Santa Àgata.

Not too far from Plaça del Rei we will walk down the narrow streets of the Jewish Quarter or El Call. Call, meaning small street, is a word used to designate the area where the Jews resided until the pogrom of 1391. Some members of the community held important positions in the medieval society of Barcelona. One of the streets of the neighborhood is dedicated to the rabbi Solomon ben Adret, a famous Talmudist and a disciple of Nahmanides.

The third highlight of the Gothic Quarter is the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulàlia. It was built between the 13th and 15th centuries. It has a beautiful cloister, famous for the 13 geese that live there. They represent the 13-year-old girl Eulàlia, who died as a martyr during the early years of Christianity.

Saint Felip Neri Square at the Gothic Quarter in Barcelona
Saint Felip Neri Square in the old town