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Sagrada Familia in Barcelona (Berlin)
Sagrada Familia is the tallest building in Barcelona (Berlin). Although its construction started in 1882, completion just passed halfway in 2010. As a main tourist attraction feature in Barcelona, residents have attached new values and significance on the structure. Its attraction is based on its integration of art, architecture and creativity bringing out Christianity and Catholicism themes to the residents and tourists. Sagrada Familia has brought a significant influence on culture, politics, environment and art. This makes the building iconic and highly valuable both in the eyes of the Catalonians and in the eyes of the rest of the world.
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Barcelona is one of the richest towns in cultural heritage. There are many buildings that represent the past and that have a great historical significance (Glancey). From the cathedral of Barcelona to Sagrada Familia, the city has seen the construction of historically and culturally significant pieces of architectural designs. By this, the city has developed into a cultural and heritage town with rich cultural contexts (Jones). Sagrada Familia is a theme that is reminiscent of the culture of Barcelona. Through its initial architect, it was inspired by nature and combined the art in different generations, including the baroque, gothic and European art (Jones). The design and construction, therefore, brings together a rich artistic heritage from generations and from different regions. The fact that Sagrada Familia receives over 3 million tourists every year shows the significance of its cultural richness (ORourke). Despite being still work in progress, it remains a marvel and attracts people from all over the world.
Gaudis work, including Sagrada Familia, was mainly inspired by nature (Moore). From the parks such as Park Guell and big structures such as Sagrada Familia, he used a lot of imagination blended with his surroundings to design his work. An acceptance of such huge projects, including the parks, the cathedral among others in the Catalonia shows the apperception of art and architecture (ORourke). Gaudi argued that there was no hurry in building Sagrada Familia, and had in mind that even if he did not complete it, a new architect would. Such understanding signifies the acceptance and confidence that artistic work would continue and that the people were ready to inherit art from one generation to the other (Moore). From the approval of the building to surviving the Spanish civil war, Barcelona has positioned itself as a cultural city in the world (Berlin).
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The religious significance of Sagrada Familia is reminiscent of a spirit of the city. The mammoth structure was initially designed to ensure that there would be no empty space. Furthermore, every decoration on the surfaces or in the form of sculptures would be significant in honoring God and religion (ORourke). The structure, therefore, creates a highly religious atmosphere, which draws people from all over the world to see it. Being the tallest building in the city, it creates some religious identity since every individual can relate to the building. The entire building signifies the life of Jesus and acts as a guideline into living a Christian life (Moore). This religious significance of the structure conveys the general lifestyle of the city residents as religious and conscientious Christians who live by the values of their Christianity (Jones). This understanding provides the city residents with a social identity and feeling of ownership, thus shaping their social dynamics. The children are brought up in religious families and uphold their social value to adulthood (Barber). Sagrada Familia, despite only being a work in progress, shapes the social life of the residents of Barcelona and eventually represents a highly significant social feature.
Culture is heavily influenced by the interactions that people make with the rest of the world. Due to buildings such as Sagrada Familia and other tourist attractions in the city, the culture and relationship between Catalans and the rest of the world is improved. Hosting millions of tourists influences the culture including food, lifestyles and beliefs (Glancey). However, the case of Barcelona is that the residents have sustained and retained most of their culture. Having preserved their heritage in the early years, they have retained most of their valuable structures to date. With resistance to civil wars that left Sagrada Familia standing, they see the value in their identity and their culture (Jones). All over the world, Catalans are known to retain their ways. The building, therefore, remains a source of cultural identity that all Catalonians can equal with making it a highly culturally significant building (Berlin).
The political significance of Sagrada Familia stretches into the age of architectural approval and subsequent involvement of the authorities in building and continuity beyond 100 years (Glancey). Beyond that, the building was targeted during the Spanish civil unrest and some of its parts and structures were destroyed. However, the willingness of the government to allow the initial construction and allow donations to be collected for over 100 years shows political tolerance and support for both religion and architecture (ORourke).
Sagrada Familia is the most significant tourist attraction features in Barcelona. Attracting over 3 million tourists every year, it remains at the center of political significance due to the revenue and taxes collected by the government. Such features make Catalonia have a stable economy despite a small geographical area (Jones). The authorities in the area are politically motivated to keep their autonomy, and although being under the jurisdiction of Spain, Catalonia has a significant control over its political affairs (Cohn). Furthermore, as a tourists destination is based on religious structures such as Sagrada Familia, it has been the responsibility of the political leaders to maintain peace in the region to ensure that tourists continue to visit and provide revenues to the government (Glancey).
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The recent consecration of Sagrada Familia as a minor Basilica opened up a new political front between Catalonia and the rest of the world (Jones). It renewed a relationship between Catalonia and Rome, the jurisdiction of Pope. The influence of the Catholic Church on Barcelona will possibly increase and eventually lead to further engagement between the regions in the two jurisdictions. The influence of the Catholic Church may not only bring together the political relationships between Rome and Catalonia but might involve other jurisdictions which have similar or related interests. Policies and legislations in Catalonia might, therefore, be changed or altered to accommodate some of these new aspects.
Despite the positive political impacts of Sagrada Familia, there have been negative impacts too. The initial arrangement to ensure that the structure was approved created divisions among political leaders, some of whom believed that it would lead to diminishing the value inherent in the great Cathedral of Barcelona (Jones). Furthermore, the governments plans to build an underground railway tunnel beneath the structure caused disagreements amongst political leaders. Moreover, there were some calls to abandon the further construction of the Cathedral, some people arguing that the initial plan and design have been contravened, thus, making it insignificant to continue building what was not in Gaudis initial architectural plan (Moore). During the Spanish Civil unrest, the building was halted temporarily as people attacked it and destroyed some of its parts. However, it was decided that it was for the good of all residents of Catalonia that constructing of Sagrada Familia was continued. The opposition to its building has continued with a notable arsonist attack in 2011 which led to the evacuation of tourists and workers (Glancey).
Although it took only 45 minutes to contain the fire, this attack was an indication that some forces remained antagonists to the construction of the impressive Basilica. These political aspects not only influence policymaking of the Catalonian authorities but also affect the lives of the residents. The public resistance towards building the underground tunnel under Sagrada Familia was evidence that people were ready to oppose policies that would jeopardize its structure, thus, the building helped in shaping up policies in the region (Cohn). There may, arguably, be no other architectural or structural work that sits within a given jurisdiction with no external pressure, yet it helps shape up policies for the jurisdiction they are located, both in terms of internal and international relationships for the jurisdiction. This makes Sagrada Familia highly significant in the political environment of Barcelona, since its inception (Berlin). This significance transcends internal political environment including the relationship between Catalonia and Spain. In addition, it affects the relationship between Catalonia and the rest of the world.
Environmental conservation is one of the main issues that the world is dealing with today. Degradation of the environment has been on the ascent raising concerns over the sustainability of natural resources for future. Different approaches have been developed to ensure that there is less degradation of the environment. Protection of culturally and environmentally significant features has improved over the last few years through UNESCO, which identify and protect the important features. Sagrada Familia has been identified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (Cohn). Preservation of these sites ensures their sustainable utilization while ensuring that they remain intact and keep the rest of the environment clean and safe.
Moreover, Sagrada Familia has been used in the past in teaching the children about environmental preservation. The learning program was organized by Panasonic Iberia in 2013th teaching of the importance of environmental conservation at a global level. The learning program was guided by the belief that preservation of UNESCO Heritage Sites would be a good starting point into environmental preservation (Jones). Furthermore, the involvement of children in the process means that the training targeted future generations and consequent sustainability (Cohn). In this regard, the site is used to help the children conceptualize and understand the environment and the importance of conservation. Therefore, it has been used as an education tool to appreciate old and new art as well as its interaction with the modern world (Waugh). Since there is no other building that can match Sagrada Familia, its uniqueness and purposes of teaching make it an integral source of environmental conservation (Cohn).
The discipline of architecture has been formal over the years. However, contemporary trends show more liberal and autonomous patterns where architects can freely express their ideas and use them in construction. With the computer age, the trend has been easier and more successful in helping the people to have more creative work. The Sagrada Familia is one of the best expressions of architectural autonomy. Over the 134 years that it has been under construction, the facility has witnessed many architects and experts (ORourke). However, they all try to follow the ideas and thoughts of Gaudi, who was among the first architects to embark on the work. At a time when designs and structural drawings were rare, there were only a few records that could be used to conceptualize the actual design that Gaudi wanted to achieve. They are therefore condemned to think in line with what Gaudi wanted to achieve. As they continue to use different material from what he initially used, they have shown a level of ideological autonomy. They have also created a computerized animation of the completed Basilica that they believe is close to what Gaudi wanted to achieve.
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The freedom accorded to Gaudi in his work gives a great sense of autonomy. The same can be consequently experienced through subsequent inheritance of the work. With initial designs unavailable, and with construction spanning over 130 years, it is expected that there might be structural problems due to partially incomplete transition between builders across the years (Waugh). Furthermore, most of these architects autonomously tried to achieve the goals set by Gaudi during his tenure. They have the facade of Nativity to look at and try to understand the initial ideas that inspired his thoughts (ORourke). From that, they would try to ensure that the materialization is the same as desired. The building is, therefore, a unique representative of architectural work that has been in existence across generations and yet retains stability, aesthetics and artistic marvel (Waugh).
The aspects attributed to Sagrada Familia make it an interesting and marvelous work of architecture and art. The utilization of space, pictorial and sculptured art, enormity of the structure and general appearance are some of the most noticeable aspects. However, there are more invisible aspects related to the Basilica, as discussed. These aspects create more significance because they shape the way people perceive, understand and accommodate the structure around them. It even guides their thinking, policy and a general feeling of ownership of their city. A structure or feature that affects the cultural, social, political, environmental well-being of the people is highly significant and important to them. Its importance is further highlighted by the involvement and approval of global bodies such as UNESCO showing it in terms of heritage. While most artistic works often influence the cultural wellbeing of a region, Sagrada Familia has been iconic and significant to nearly each resident of Catalonia in the ways mentioned. This makes it a very important and highly valuable architectural work, on top of being creatively different in its architectural design and construction work.
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