Barcelona - Today I'm heading north on the bus to see one of the world's most famous churches. The Sagrada Familia is said to be architect Antoni Gaudí's pledge to his faith. He took over the project just a year after its conception, changed the design completely and presented something that at the time wasn't possible. The tools needed to make the structure didn't yet exist.
Beginning in 1882, Gaudí spent over 40 years working on the project and devoted the last 15 years of his life entirely to it. Today it's still under construction, set to be completed on the 100th anniversary of his death in 2026. I don't know if there has ever been another artist or architect who had his extreme devotion to Barcelona's cultural and traditional landscape.
The Sagrada Familia, one of the most important contributions to expressionist archtecture in the world, has created a window of opportunity for designers, architects and students who kept up the work after he died.
When I was little girl, my grandmother brought me to church with her every Sunday. I can still remember sitting beside her, feet dangling, fiddling with everything imaginable while she paid attention to every last word of the service.
Now, as the bus swings around the corner, I see beautiful gothic towers rising far above all the other buildings, each with sculptures jutting out of them - a lizard, a flower made out of beer bottles, a mosaic fruit sculpture, all with incredible detail.
Tears roll from my eyes without even a conscious prelude. Memories that I didn't even know I had of my grandmother cascade through my mind, like the time we were on the way to the store and she found $5 on the grass, which she then used to buy flour to make bread for church. Or the time she bought me a huge pink candle for the Easter ceremony, or that orange and grey dress she used to wear to Sunday mass.
I gaze up and see granite, concrete, ceramics, broken beer bottles - all part of a series of sculptures illustrating the Catholic interpretation of the Bible. While each tower represents an apostle, each facade represents a section of biblical time. The Nativity represents the birth, and the Passion, death. The yet-to-be built facade will represent the Glory.
Inside, tree sculptures stretch up and out all over the interior. Daylight coming through them projects flowers from the cathedral windows onto the walls around me. As a crane passes over the top, it changes the flow of light in a circular motion. I feel like I'm watching one of those mobile projections my parents had in my room when I was a kid. The hues created by the stained glass are so alive with light and colour, I feel like I'm in a dream. Looking at my watch, I realize I've just spent an hour standing in one place, lost in all of this beauty.
An elevator brings me to a finished tower. With every step upwards to the top, I feel I am walking one year backwards, until my body feels like it's shrinking back to its childhood size. By the time I stand on the top step, looking out at this spectacular world, my grandmother is here with me.
I'm that little girl having another precious moment with her.