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Barcelona's Famed Cathedral Finally Gets the Color It Wanted

Special-effects wizards used Antoni Gaudì's sketches to psychedelically animate the La Sagrada Familia.

Moment Factory

La Sagrada Familia is impressive and all, looking like it was built over millennia by thousands of dripping candles. But with vast parts of the exterior as colorless as bleached coral, Barcelona's famed church just about screams for a splash of paint.

Catalan architect Antoni Gaudì intended his masterpiece to bear all sorts of joyous hues, but died in 1926 when the project was barely a quarter finished. However, he left behind colored sketches showing just how he wanted the monument to appear. The existence of those illustrations have allowed a Canadian entertainment studio to reimagine La Sagrada as it was supposed to be: awash in a polychromatic soup of reds, yellows and blues.

Well, Montreal's Moment Factory did one better. With more than a dozen people operating 25 moving lights, the studio made it seem like a rainbow had fallen from the sky and was in the process of dissolving over La Sagrada. The arresting artwork played in front of a crowd of 32,000 revelers at this weekend's La Mercè, Barcelona's annual feting of its patron saint. It took four months of planning to paint La Sagrada's intricately fissured facade with light, but from footage of the 15-minute event it seems like it was worth it. Have a look:

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.