Thursday, August 4, 2016

Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia

After a successful career as a financial senior executive, Steven Saslow retired from The Blackstone Group but remains a consultant, and also enjoys mentoring and training a new generation of analysts and associates. A frequent traveler throughout his career, including his time at Blackstone, Steven Saslow considers Barcelona as one of his favorite cities.

Located on the northeastern coast of Spain facing the Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona is Spain’s second-largest city. In an area settled by Phoenicians and Greeks, and later by Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Moors, Franks, and finally won by the Catalans, Barcelona boasts of over 2,000 years of architectural gems.

The most popular architectural monument in Barcelona, and perhaps all of Spain, is the La Sagrada Familia, with approximately 2.8 million visitors each year. The Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family was commissioned by the Spiritual Association of Devotees of Saint Joseph, and construction began on St. Joseph’s day, March 19, 1882.

The task of designing and constructing the temple ultimately fell to Antoni Gaudí. He designed a temple 60 meters wide, 95 meters long and able to seat 13,000 people. It features a central 170-meter tower and 17 more towers 100 meters or more high. The work became Gaudi’s obsession, and when funds were depleted, he used his own money and raised more however he could.

When Gaudí died, only one tower, one portal, the crypt, and the apse walls were completed. Work continued and design changes made. Today, visitors are struck by its awesome verticality and the method used to mimic medieval cathedrals. Mired by controversies, construction continues, and the project is expected to be completed perhaps in the 2040s, over 150 years after it began.

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