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About my father...

My father, my favorite Bulgarian, passed away some years ago, on his feet. In this way he gave his sons a last – and perhaps most important – example, but this is not what I want to talk about. My old man, Mitko Enev, died while he tried…
2012 03 Sagrada Familia

About Sagrada Familia

I would like to start with a somehow embarrassing admission: I was never much enraptured by architecture, a great deal of my life. Somehow my consciousness refused to fall in love. French glass pyramids, German cathedrals, Italian palazzos…

The Steps

The sound of the steps, drawn-out and slow, as if somebody was dragging his heels, drove him crazy. Every time they started above his head he moved into a different room – from the living room to the kitchen, then, through the horribly…

About Sagrada Familia

I would like to start with a somehow embarrassing admission: I was never much enraptured by architecture, a great deal of my life. Somehow my consciousness refused to fall in love. French glass pyramids, German cathedrals, Italian palazzos – they all left me untouched. I would admire them with my eyes, my mouth would produce a few witty remarks, but that was all, most of the time.

Well, this was my feeling till recently. I mean, up till a few years ago, when I saw Sagrada Familia. If somebody had told me before, I would have laughed, I suppose… A building which can fill your eyes with tears… Yes, it does exist.

I don’t know how this is possible. I just saw it.

 

2012 03 Sagrada Familia

 

To avoid confusion, let me start with a few bits of less disputable information. Sagrada Familia is the most famous work of the great Antonio Gaudí (the accent is on the last syllable) – an architect who left no school, even no followers, perhaps because his style is so unique and nonpareil that it is nearly impossible to emulate. The cathedral survived more than one or two cataclysms (not earthquakes, mind you), the most ugly being the Spanish Civil war, when it was nearly destroyed (by a hair's breadth, literally: a group of much-too-zealous anarchists insisted on blowing it up.) The rumor says it was saved only because somebody noticed its high towers would be an excellent place for machine-gun posts. The zealots didn’t give up that easily, though, and still took their revenge, burning the workshop of the master, so that nowadays there are no original plans left. George Orwell himself, who was there at the time, remarks in Homage to Catalonia that “this is the most hideous building in the world”, and disagrees with the decision to spare it. Fortunately, in later times the building started rising, though slowly. At the time I was there it was about to show something of the initial monumental intentions of the master, albeit its south façade is the only work of Gaudì himself; everything else is showing a rather different understanding of style, delicacy and elegance.

But enough with history. The one thing no historical study can describe is the unimaginable exquisiteness of this building, which, being higher than 450 feet, still manages to look like made out of lace. You look at it from without – and instinctively think of something very sweet and light (say, cotton candy). Get in – and you feel like entering a forest. You climb up the towers – and wish you could fly. So this is, you say to yourself, faith, caught up in stone – tender like a breath in a frozen winter morning and still more indestructible than most boastings of modern times…

We stood in front of it, mesmerized, for something like an eternity before daring to stand up on the tickets line. Then we walked around and tried to film everything – no doubt a vain undertaking, as no pictures can really express the silent nobility of the miracle. Later we sat for another eternity on the benches in front of that southern façade, trying to recognize the thousands of figures which decorate it… To no avail, I’m afraid. Yes, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than…

And so we kept sitting, clicking our tongues and trying to absorb at least something of the Beauty, which, so they say, shall save the world…

Then we went on with our tourist Odyssey (a bit depressed by the feeling of our own smallness, I won’t try to conceal it), but above all immensely happy with that momentary touch to something real, something unique and great.

Because – you can never know – maybe there is some truth in those words about Beauty…

You can never know.

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