Sagrada Familia Cathedral is in the center Barcelona and certainly is its main tourist attraction. It is one of the most unusual Christian churches. Only the layout of this cathedral followed the building rules of Catholic Church (cross-shaped). In all other respects Gaudi tried to ignore the standard style of thousands of Catholic churches all over the world and imparted to it its own identity.
The story of the cathedral dates back to 1866 when the members of St. Joseph`s Men Society decided to build on people`s donations the cathedral to glorify the Holy Family. Initially, Francisco de Villar was charged with the task to build the cathedral, and in 1882 the first stone was laid down. However, almost at once they had to look for some other architect, and consequently Antonio Gaudi, who was then 30 years old, was asked to build the cathedral.
He at once rejected the project of his predecessor and started to build the cathedral in absolutely innovative style. As in most of his projects, Gaudi did without a clear plan, excepting sketches, which he changed during the construction as new ideas appeared.
Gaudi decided to build a cathedral with three stylistically similar facades: Nativity Facade, Passion Facade and Glory Facade. Each facade should have been surmounted by a triple portal, in turn crowned with 4 towers. So, the cathedral would have 12 towers symbolizing 12 apostles.
Since 1914 Gaudi worked only at the cathedral refusing all other orders. He moved to a small workshop, which was directly on the building site. Besides, he wasn’t only an architect. The cathedral was built only on the money, which Gaudi was able to collect as charity. This explains why he had built and finished only the Nativity Facade for 30 years.
The facade has a very rich decoration. They got to resemble either leaves and branches or volcanic ornaments.
The construction was stopped in 1926 when a tramp-like old man was hit by a tram just near the building site. He was taken to St. Paul`s Hospital where he died. At first they wanted to bury him in a common grave, but one woman recognized him as the greatest architect of Barcelona. And so Antonio Gaudi was buried in the crypt of his unfinished cathedral.
After the death of the architect it had been long discussed whether it was possible for some other architects to finish what Gaudi had begun. In the second half of XX century the construction was resumed, and under the lead of Josep Subirachs the Passion Facade was finally completed. Further work started only in 2015.