Today, the central tower of the Sagrada Família, dedicated to Jesus Christ, stands 85 metres above the Temple ground and the four bridges connecting it to the towers of the evangelists are being put in place. When finished, it will be 172.5 metres tall. Towards the end of this year, we will see it start to grow. This article is in response to everyone who is anxiously wondering what this culminating part of the construction will be like inside.
THE SYMBOLIC MEANING
In addition to being dedicated to Jesus Christ, a key meaning that has had a significant effect on the project to build this tower and makes it the central lantern, there are two additional essential concepts to be conveyed to visitors, which determine the space designed and make it an internal experience.
On the one hand, original writings from Gaudí’s time describe how Jesus’ phrase “I am the light of the world” was to be used to give meaning to the shape of the lanterns and other towers. Through the light that would be given off by powerful projectors inside this tower, Gaudí wanted to show how the Divine Word shone out of the cross on top of the tower and, passing through the towers of the evangelists and apostles, reached the street, the faithful. In fact, there is an original photograph from his time showing trial models for the Temple with this light effect.
However, this is only visible at night. So, although the idea is for the inside to also show that the cross is the origin of the light, there is also a second thread of the tower’s symbolic message, and it is another phrase spoken by Jesus: “I am the way and the truth and the life.” This sentence shapes and gives meaning to the project, particularly inside.
THE HEART OF THE TOWER
This main tower will be accessible to visitors via the bridges connecting it to the towers of the evangelists, which means there must be a staircase and lift inside. The perception inside, thus, is heavily marked by the presence of this central core, unlike the tower of Mary, which has a cleaner look without obstructions. The tower of Jesus Christ, barely 18 metres in diameter but 60 metres tall, will inevitably make visitors look up when they enter. Visitors will be 85 metres above ground level and, when they look up, will be enchanted searching for the details that aren’t noticeable from down below. They will follow the central stone core, which will take them up to the top. This upper section of the core will be open and deeper than the rest, giving the sensation that there is something more above. So, this vertical stone core is a proposed path to follow up into the heavens, a path humans search for often and that takes us all into the unknown, which we cannot even imagine from where we are.
This stone core houses a spiral staircase and, inside the staircase, a glass lift. It is similar to a hyperboloid in shape, with the top opening up in a star shape to connect to the final horizontal belt that is the end of the tower’s outer structure of panels. This hyperbolic shape is broken down into large paraboloids that, from bottom to top, help create this opening at the top. These paraboloids, large rhomboid openings like the triangular windows the tower has on the outside, will give visitors different views, of the inside of the tower, the outside and the city.
CREATION OF UNIVERSE
While the stone core of the tower represents the path to follow, the interior face encloses and envelops this space, rising up to 60 metres, from which point observers will be able to admire it, representing the creation of the universe, the palpable truth scientists work to discover. The vertical axis, the way, is an axis in space and in time. It is an upward path in space and also a path towards the beginning of time. Because God is the beginning and the end; alpha and omega.
So, the highest part, the dome, will have the colours of that first light at the beginning of creation. And as it descends, and the time comes closer to current day, the material will expand, creating gravitational fields and, little by little, stars, planets, galaxies, the Milky Way and well-known constellations. So, the first clear, warm colours become cooler, darker blues. The level at the bottom of the tower will represent the most palpable truth for all, daily life seen from where we are standing: inside Jesus Christ. So, it will have twelve passageways exemplifying the life of Jesus, represented in an introspective, personal vision, inspiring visitors prepared to set off on this path of the three Vs: via, veritas, vita.
THE CROSS AT THE PEAK
From 85 metres, the cross that sits atop the highest point of the building won’t be visible. But the light that shines down from above will give a sense that there is something beyond human perception. This great beyond is eternal life, represented by the typical Gaudí-style four-armed cross, in this case on a grand scale. Measuring 13.5 metres at its widest, this cross is still on the architect’s drawing boards. They are currently calculating the structure, researching shiny materials and developing building solutions to make it a reality.