Photo Spots: Sagrada Familia at Risk

[ This is the first post in a new series I’m going to work on called Photo Spots. The purpose of this series will be to give details about renowned, interesting, or unknown photo spots around the world. These spots could be either a place that I have visited personally or someplace that I have heard of that I thought were photo-worthy. ]

I was listening to National Public Radio (NPR) today and heard a concerning story about Sagrada Familia, the UNESCO World Heritage site in Barcelona, Spain. Today’s episode of The World had an episode that talked about how a train might threaten this Barcelona landmark.

I don’t remember where I first heard of or saw an image of Sagrada Familia, but after I did I soon thought…wow, that would be something to photograph. Sagrada Familia is the unfinished masterpiece of architect Antoni Gaudi. The temple’s land was bought in 1881 and the foundation stone of the temple was set in 1882. Eventually, disagreements with the original architect, Joan Martorell, lead to Gaudi, who had been an assistant of Martorell, to be named architect of the temple. His redesigned plan for the temple can almost be considered organic when viewed from a distance with it’s 18 total spindle-shaped towers and layers of Christian symbols and sculptures integrated into the design.

Gaudi worked on the temple for over 40 years, devoting the last 15 years of his life to the project. Gaudi passed away in 1926 and the temple’s construction has been supervised by numerous architects since. Time has not been kind to the temple. During the Spanish Civil War the unfinished building was damaged and Gaudí’s models and workshop were destroyed. Lately, computerized modeling has been utilized to assist the construction, which is optimistically targeted for completion around 2026.

What I learned today, is that Spain’s government is building a high-speed train between Barcelona and Madrid. This train puts the Sagrada Familia at risk because it’s path includes a tunnel that runs within 6 feet the Sagrada Familia. The train is targeted to travel at 200 mph and many citizens and architects are concerned that the vibrations from the train will crack and ruin the temple. The tunnel has already been blamed for the damage to many houses and buildings along the sections that have already been completed. And there is a huge dispute on going between citizens and politicians over the tunnel’s proximity to the temple.

While civil projects are needed and there is probably huge economic value that the high speed train will create, it would be sad to see the train damage the historic Sagrada Familia before it is even completed. As The World’s news segment says: it would be sad to see a train destroy Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia, especially consider Gaudi died when he was struck by a train on his way to the temple’s construction site in 1926.

Here are some links to online image collections I have found of the Sagrada Familia:

So, if you find yourself near Barcelona, Spain, what kind of great shots can you take? Add a comment with a link to your images, or send me an email and I’ll add them to this list.

Get out and shoot…before the tunnel gets completed!

4 Replies to “Photo Spots: Sagrada Familia at Risk”

  1. Hi Greg,
    thanks for the very informative post. I had no idea about the proposed underground train.
    While scanning some of my old slides I found some photos I took in Barcelona. I posted one of La Sagrada Familia
    and I’ll be posting some more of the Parc Guell


    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I have heard the news that the government of Spain has approved a project that puts in serious danger the Expiatori Temple of the Sagrada Familia (and the Milà House), the greatest work of the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, in Barcelona. The project in question is the imminent construction of a tunnel for a high-speed train (TGV) that will pass below the main facade of the building.

    My concerns are the following:
    1. The vulnerability and the weight of a building as unique as this one.
    2. The unstable nature of the foundation of the construction and the underground currents that cross it.
    3. The work with the tunnel will put a strain to the Sagrada Familia and its surroundings. The work will last 28 months.
    4. Bearing in mind that the monument every day every day every day receives an average of 7.000 daily visits.

    I would like to stress that any collapse of the building would be a danger for the construction workers and/or visitors – the outcome could be fatal. The building is declared Patrimony of the Humanity by UNESCO.

    I ask you, to please fill in the form you’ll find in this website:



  3. Barcelona is a fabulous city, filled with amazing Gaudi architecture, great restaurants, a pretty harbor and good shopping. I could spend days just wandering around in the old quarters with their narrow streets, browsing in shops and stopping off for a coffee or some tapas.It is one of my favorite cities and I have been lucky enough to visit Barcelona twice now, first in Oct 2003 and then again in Jan 2007. Even after two visits I still have plenty more to see – stayed tuned for visit number three!


  4. Sagrada Familia cathedral, inspired by gothic style yet a landmark of modern architecture, is in reality not much more than a facade. Begun over 100 years ago in 1882, and still less than half completed, this is undoubtedly one of Barcelona’s most characteristic buildings, so popular among tourists, that many hotels in Barcelona appeared in surrounding area. You can visit the structure and climb up some of the towers if you have a head for heights, and there is a museum that has models of what the final structure will look like. Unfortunately Gaudí died before he could finish his biggest and most beloved project, with galleries that should have room for 1500 singers, 700 children and 5 organs.
    Will the city of Barcelona ever complete this monumental work?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Human Test * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.