Passing through St. Peter’s Square lately, you might have noticed quite a bit of scaffolding dominating the south arm of the colonnade. And then, you might have taken a closer look, and noticed a large “Gaudi: La Sagrada Familia de Barcelona” sign and thought to yourself “is this some kind of tribute to the perpetual scaffolding at Gaudi’s never-ending construction site/masterpiece?” Or maybe you didn’t think that, but I kinda did. Regardless, the scaffolding is there because they’re cleaning up the columns that surround the piazza for the first time in ten years, and the sign is there because the Vatican is currently hosting a special exhibit dedicated to Barcelona’s breathtaking basilica – La Sagrada Familia.
If you have not had the chance to get to Spain see the modernist-Gothic-hyperbolic creation for yourself, then I suggest you swing by St. Peter’s to catch this free exhibit. And even if you have been to the Catalonian capital, it’s worth the non-existent price of admission to take an up-close look at this remarkable basilica, whose construction commenced in 1882, was consecrated as a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI just one year ago, and is still thought to be 50-60 years away from completion. The exhibit covers the life of Antonin Gaudi, the architect and mastermind behind the Sagrada Familia, who left his indelible mark throughout the rest of Barcelona as well. In addition to timelines and photos of the church in various stages of construction, there are several models on display, giving us the chance to see Gaudi’s bizarrely beautiful and mathematically mesmerizing bell towers and arches at eye level.
I walked out of there ready to book the next flight back to the land of patatas bravas, pescaditos fritos, and Gaudi’s hauntingly beautiful cityscape. But no need to hurry…after almost 150 years of construction, I don’t think it’s going anywhere for awhile.
What: Gaudi – La Sagrada Familia de Barcelona – Art, Science and Spritiuality
Where: Braccio di Carlo Magno – aka the southwest section of Piazza San Pietro – follow the large red sign, the entrance is hidden behind the scaffolding
When: The show runs until January 15th
How much: Just like the papal basilica that houses this exhibition, you can check it out free of charge!