Sistine Chapel: Facts, History & Visitor Information

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Post 4704

Sistine Chapel: Facts, History & Visitor Information

By Jessie Szalay, LiveScience Contributor   |   October 30, 2013 12:32am ET
‘The Creation of Adam’ is one of the nine ceiling panels in the Sistine Chapel depicting scenes from the book of Genesis.

Credit: Vlad G /

The Sistine Chapel is a large chapel in the Vatican City. It is renowned for its Renaissance art, especially the ceiling painted by Michelangelo, and attracts more than 5 million visitors each year.


The Sistine Chapel stands on the foundation of an older chapel called the Capella Magna. In 1477, Pope Sixtus IV instigated a rebuilding of the chapel, which was then named for him.

The chapel is 40.23 meters long, 13.40 meters wide, and 20.70 meters high (about 132 by 44 by 68 feet) — reputedly, the dimensions of Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem, which was destroyed in A.D. 70. The chapel’s exterior is simple and unassuming, giving little hint to the splendid decoration inside.

Pope Sixtus IV commissioned celebrated painters, including Botticelli and Rosselli, to decorate the chapel. At this point, the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling was painted like a simple blue sky with stars.

In 1503, a new pope, Julius II, decided to change some of the Sistine Chapel’s decoration. He commanded artist Michelangelo to do it. Michelangelo balked, because he considered himself a sculptor, not a painter, and he was hard at work sculpting the king’s tomb. But Pope Julius insisted, and Michelangelo began work on his famous frescoed ceiling in 1508. He worked for four years. It was so physically taxing that it permanently damaged his eyesight.

More than 20 years later, Pope Clement VII commissioned Michelangelo to paint the giant fresco “The Last Judgment” behind the altar. The artist, then in his 60s, painted it from 1536 to 1541.

Michelangelo’s paintings


At the highest part of the ceiling, Michelangelo depicted nine scenes from Genesis, including “The Separation of Light From Darkness” at the altar end of the chapel to “The Drunkenness of Noah” at the other end. The most famous panels are “The Creation of Adam” and “The Fall of Man and the Expulsion from Paradise.” Images of prophets and pagan sibyls surround the panels, and twisting (and originally controversial) male nudes decorate the corners.

'The Last Judgment'
Michelangelo painted a fresco titled ‘The Last Judgment’ on the wall behind the altar in the Sistine Chapel.

Credit: | Shutterstock

The Last Judgment

This fresco depicts the second coming of Christ, who is judging all mankind. The blessed are on the right and heading to heaven, while the damned are on the left and being sent to hell and tortured by demons. Major Biblical and Catholic characters appear in the scene, including Eve and several saints.

Secret images

In 1990, some physicians suggestedthat the flying-seat shape and figure of God in “The Creation of Adam” makes up an anatomically correct image of the human brain. In 2010, it was asserted that “The Separation of Light From Darkness” panel contains a human brain stem. Other theorists have suggested that Michelangelo depicted kidney imagery on the ceiling.  As a sculptor, Michelangelo was fascinated by the human form. He studied cadavers to get a better sense of anatomy, and would have been familiar with the human brain.

Painting the Sistine Chapel was an exhausting task, and Michelangelo’s relationship with the Catholic Church became strained doing it. Perhaps to depict his unhappiness, he hid two miserable-looking self-portraits in “The Last Judgment.”He painted his deceased face on Holofernes’ severed head and his ghoulish visage on Saint Bartholomew’s flayed skin.

Restoration efforts

A serious restoration of the Sistine Chapel began in 1980. Restorers spent 14 years reattaching fresco and cleaning it. They also removed some of the “modesty drapes” that had been added to Michelangelo’s work.

The restoration was extremely controversial. Some critics claim that the restoration removed an intentional second layer of paint, and that Michelangelo had intentionally used darker, more shadowy hues to give the figures depth. Others say that the restoration was essential for keeping the masterpiece intact and reviving the brilliancy of Michelangelo’s palette.

Papal use

The chapel is more than an artistic masterpiece; it is a place of crucial religious activity.  Since 1492, the chapel has been the site where the College of Cardinals gathers to elect a new pope.  The chapel has a special chimney that is used to broadcast the cardinals’ voting status. White smoke indicates that a new pope has been elected, while black smoke signals that no candidate has received a two-thirds majority.

An aerial view of the Sistine Chapel.
An aerial view of the Sistine Chapel.

Credit: Banauke | Shutterstock

Visiting the Sistine Chapel

Tickets: To visit the Sistine Chapel, one must purchase an admission ticket to theVatican Museums. As of 2013, adult tickets are 16 euros ($22). There are reduced options for youth, students, clergy and some others. There are selected free admission days throughout the year, including the last Sunday of each month. Because lines can be extremely long, it may save time to purchase a ticket online.

Hours: The Vatican Museums are open Monday through Saturday and the last Sunday of each month. Typically, the ticket office is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the museums close at 6 p.m.

Restrictions: There are a variety of restrictions at the Vatican Museums, including no alcoholic drinks, immodest clothing, flash photography, or touching the works of art. All photography and filming is forbidden in the Sistine Chapel.

Sistine Chapel Photos – Vatican

The Sistine Chapel has beautiful Architecture

Sistine Chapel ceiling

Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel

Sistine chapel

Sistine Chapel

From the outside

Sistine Chapel Photo – Vatican – 1

Sistine Chapel Photo – Vatican – 2

Sistine Chapel Photo – Vatican – 3

Sistine Chapel Photo – Vatican – 4

Sistine Chapel Photo – Vatican – 5

The chimney connected to the stove used to burn ballot papers during the upcoming Vatican conclave reaches the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican, Saturday, April 16, 2005. Starting Monday, April 18, 115 Cardinals from all over the world will hold closed-door meetings in the Sistine Chapel, decorated by Michelangelo’s Last Judgment, in background, to elect the next head of the Roman Catholic Church

Sistine Chapel Photo – Vatican – 6

Doors open to the Sistine Chapel

Sistine Chapel Photo – Vatican – 7

Doors open to the Sistine Chapel

Pope John Paul II celebrates a Mass April 8, 1994

at the end of 14 years of restoration work on

Michaelangelo’s frescoes on the alter wall and ceiling

of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican

Sagrada Família

Post 3480

Sagrada Família

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sagrada Família
Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Catalan)
Basílica y Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia (Spanish)
Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family (English)
File:Sagrada Familia 01.jpgView of the Passion Façade (Western side) in September  2009
(cranes digitally removed)
Basic information
Location Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Geographic coordinates 41°24′13″N 2°10′28″E
Affiliation Roman Catholic
District Barcelona
Year consecrated 7 November 2010
Ecclesiastical or organizational status Minor basilica
Heritage designation 1969, 1984
Leadership Archbishop Lluís Martínez Sistach
Architectural description
Architect(s) Antoni Gaudí
Architectural style Modernisme
General contractor Construction Board of La Sagrada Família Foundation
Direction of façade Northeast
Groundbreaking 1882
Completed 2026-2028 (estimate)
Capacity 9,000
Length 90 metres (300 ft)
Width 60 metres (200 ft)
Width (nave) 45 metres (148 ft)
Spire(s) 18 (8 already built)
Spire height 170 metres (560 ft) (planned)
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Official name: Works of Antoni Gaudí
Criteria: i, ii, iv
Designated: 1984
Reference #: 320bis
Type: Cultural
State Party: Spain
Region: Europe and North America
Spanish Property of Cultural Interest
Official name: Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia
Designated: 24-07-1969
Reference #: (R.I.)-51-0003813-00000
Type: Monument

The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (EnglishBasilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy FamilySpanishBasílica y Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia), commonly known as the Sagrada Família(Catalan pronunciation: [səˈɣɾaðə fəˈmiɫiə]), is a large Roman Catholic church in BarcelonaCataloniaSpain, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). Although incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 was consecrated and proclaimed a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI.

Though construction of Sagrada Família had commenced in 1882, Gaudí became involved in 1883, taking over the project and transforming it with his architectural and engineering style—combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms.

Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete. Sagrada Família’s construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War—only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project’s greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026—the centennial of Gaudí’s death. The basílica has a long history of dividing the citizens of Barcelona—over the initial possibility it might compete with Barcelona’s cathedral, over Gaudí’s design itself, over the possibility that work after Gaudí’s death disregarded his design,and the recent possibility that an underground tunnel of Spain’s high-speed train could disturb its stability.

Describing Sagrada Familia, art critic Rainer Zerbst said “it is probably impossible to find a church building anything like it in the entire history of art” and Paul Goldberger called it ‘the most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages’.


File:Sagradafamilia-model background adj.jpg

Gaudí’s model of the completed church


The Basilica of the Sagrada Família was the inspiration of a Catalan bookseller, Josep Maria Bocabella, founder of Asociación Espiritual de Devotos de San José (Spiritual Association of Devotees of St. Joseph). After a visit to the Vatican in 1872, Bocabella returned from Italy with the intention of building a church inspired by that at Loreto.The crypt of the church, funded by donations, was begun 19 March 1882, on the festival of St. Joseph, to the design of the architectFrancisco de Paula del Villar,

File:Francisco del Villar.jpg

Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano, (Murcia, 1828–Barcelona, 1901) was a Spanish architect.

He studied architecture in Madrid at the Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando, and qualified in 1852. The following year he settled in Barcelona and was elected a member of what is now known as the Reial Acadèmia Catalana de Belles Arts de Sant Jordi. In 1854 he designed a series of emergency hospitals for victims of the cholera epidemic. Amongst other public appointments he became president of the Association of Architects and director of the Higher School of Architecture.

whose plan was for a Gothic revival church of a standard form. Antoni Gaudí began work on the project in 1883. On 18 March 1883 Villar retired from the project, and Gaudí assumed responsibility for its design, which he changed radically.

Antoni Gaudí
File:Antoni Gaudi 1878.jpg
Antoni Gaudí by Pau Audouard
Born 25 June 1852
ReusCatalonia, Spain
Died 10 June 1926 (aged 73)
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Buildings Sagrada FamíliaCasa MilàCasa Batlló
Projects Park GüellColònia Güell


File:Sagrada familia construction differences.jpg

Newly constructed stonework at the Sagrada Família is clearly visible against the stained and weathered older sections.

On the subject of the extremely long construction period, Gaudí is said to have remarked: “My client is not in a hurry.” When Gaudí died in 1926, the basilica was between 15 and 25 percent complete. After Gaudí’s death, work continued under the direction of Domènec Sugrañes i Gras until interrupted by theSpanish Civil War in 1936.

Domènec Sugrañes i GrasFile:Sugranyes.gif
Born 12 December 1878
Died 9 August 1938 (aged 59)
Nationality Spain
Buildings Sagrada familia

Parts of the unfinished basilica and Gaudí’s models and workshop were destroyed during the war by Catalan anarchists. The present design is based on reconstructed versions of the plans that were burned in a fire as well as on modern adaptations. Since 1940 the architects Francesc QuintanaIsidre Puig BoadaLluís Bonet i Gari and Francesc Cardoner have carried on the work. The illumination was designed by Carles Buigas. The current director and son of Lluís Bonet, Jordi Bonet i Armengol, has been introducing computers into the design and construction process since the 1980s. Mark Burry of New Zealand serves as Executive Architect and Researcher. Sculptures by J. BusquetsEtsuro Sotoo and the controversial Josep Subirachs decorate the fantastical façades.

The central nave vaulting was completed in 2000 and the main tasks since then have been the construction of the transept vaults andapse. As of 2006, work concentrated on the crossing and supporting structure for the main tower of Jesus Christ as well as the southern enclosure of the central nave, which will become the Glory façade.

Construction status


Sagrada Familia’s roof under construction (2009)

One projection anticipates construction completion around 2026, the centennial of Gaudí’s death—while the project’s information leaflet estimates a completion date in 2028, accelerated by additional funding from visitors to Barcelona following the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Computer-aided design technology has been used to accelerate construction of the building, which had previously been expected to last for several hundred years, based on building techniques available in the early 20th century. Current technology allows stone to be shaped off-site by a CNC milling machine, whereas in the 20th century, the stone was carved by hand.

In 2008, some renowned Catalan architects advocated a halt to construction, to respect Gaudí’s original designs, which, although they were not exhaustive and were partially destroyed, have been partially reconstructed in recent years.

A 2010 exhibition, Gaudí Unseen, Completing La Sagrada Familia at the German Architecture Museum, Frankfurt am Main, describes the current construction methods and future plans for the Sagrada Familia.

AVE tunnel

On 26 March 2010, the Ministry of Public Works of Spain (Ministerio de Fomento) began constructing an AVE (high-speed train) tunnel beneath the center of Barcelona, saying the project poses no risk to the church. Project engineers and architects disagreed, saying there was no guarantee that the tunnel would not affect the stability of the building. The Board of the Sagrada Família (Patronat de la Sagrada Família) and the neighborhood association AVE pel Litoral (AVE by the Coast) had led a campaign against this route of theTunnel Sants – La Sagrera for the AVE, without success.

In October 2010, the tunnel boring machine reached the church underground under the location of the building’s principal façade. A few months later, the tunneling machine reached its endpoint. No damage to the Sagrada Familia has been reported to date.

The circulation of trains through the tunnel is planned to start in December 2012, when the installation of railway tracks, catenary and signalisation is completed. ADIF intends to embed the rails into an elastic material to dampen vibrations, according to the system Edilon.

Construction of the Sagrada Família

File:Sagrada Familia Construction 1988.jpg

A view of the construction of the Sagrada Familia Church in Barcelona Spain as it appeared in the spring of 1988


Artist at work in the gypsum workshop at Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona.


Workers and AWP’s in the nave of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona


Workers on the towers of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia church in Barcelona


A crane over a tower of the Glory façade


The Glory façade in scaffolding


The main nave was covered and an organ installed in mid-2010, allowing the still unfinished building to be used for religious services. The church was consecrated by PopeBenedict XVI on 7 November 2010 in front of a congregation of 6,500 people, including King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia of Spain. A further 50,000 people followed the consecration Mass from outside the basilica, where more than 100 bishops and 300 priests were on hand to offer Holy Communion.


On 19 April 2011, an arsonist started a small fire in the sacristy which forced the evacuation of tourists and construction workers, but caused minimal damage. The sacristy itself, however, was destroyed by the fire, which took 45 minutes to contain.


File:SF - lago.jpg

Nativity façade

The style of la Sagrada Familia is variously likened to Spanish Late GothicCatalan Modernism and to Art Nouveau or CatalanNoucentisme. While the Sagrada Família falls within the Art Nouveau period, Nikolaus Pevsner points out that, along with Charles Rennie Macintosh in Glasgow, Gaudí carried the Art Nouveau style far beyond its usual application as a surface decoration.


While never intended to be a cathedral (seat of a bishop), the Sagrada Família was planned from the outset to be a cathedral-sized building. Its ground-plan has obvious links to earlier Spanish cathedrals such as Burgos CathedralLeon Cathedral and Seville Cathedral. In common with Catalan and many other European Gothic cathedrals, the Sagrada Familia is short in comparison to its width, and has a great complexity of parts, which include double aisles, an ambulatory with a chevet of seven apsidal chapels, a multitude of towers and three portals, each widely different in structure as well as ornament. Where it is common for cathedrals in Spain to be surrounded by numerous chapels and ecclesiastical buildings, the plan of this church has an unusual feature: a covered passage or cloister which forms a rectangle enclosing the church and passing through the narthex of each of its three portals. With this peculiarity aside, the plan, influenced by Villar’s crypt, barely hints at the complexity of Gaudí’s design or its deviations from traditional church architecture.


Gaudí’s original design calls for a total of eighteen spires, representing in ascending order of height the Twelve Apostles, the four Evangelists, the Virgin Mary and, tallest of all, Jesus Christ. Eight spires have been built as of 2010, corresponding to four apostles at the Nativity façade and four apostles at the Passion façade.

According to the 2005 Works Report of the project’s official website, drawings signed by Gaudí and recently found in the Municipal Archives, indicate that the spire of the Virgin was in fact intended by Gaudí to be shorter than those of the evangelists. The spire height will follow Gaudí’s intention, which according to the Works Report will work with the existing foundation.

The Evangelists’ spires will be surmounted by sculptures of their traditional symbols: a bull (Saint Luke), a winged man (Saint Matthew), an eagle (Saint John), and a lion (Saint Mark). The central spire of Jesus Christ is to be surmounted by a giant cross; the spire’s total height (170 metres (560 ft)) will be one metre less than that of Montjuïc hill in Barcelona as Gaudi believed that his creation should not surpass God’s. The lower spires are surmounted by communion hosts with sheaves of wheat and chalices with bunches of grapes, representing the Eucharist.

The completion of the spires will make Sagrada Família the tallest church building in the world.



The façade

The Church will have three grand façades: the Nativity façade to the East, the Passion façade to the West, and the Glory façade to the South (yet to be completed). The Nativity Façade was built before work was interrupted in 1935 and bears the most direct Gaudí influence. The Passion façade is especially striking for its spare, gaunt, tormented characters, including emaciated figures of Christ being scourged at the pillar; and Christ on the Cross. These controversial designs are the work of Josep Maria Subirachs. The Glory façade, on which construction began in 2002, will be the largest and most monumental of the three and will represent one’s ascension to God. It will also depict various scenes such as Hell, Purgatory, and will include elements such as the Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Heavenly Virtues.

Nativity Façade

File:Sagrada Familia, Turtle.jpg

Tortoise at the base of column

Constructed between 1894 and 1930, the Nativity façade was the first façade to be completed. Dedicated to the birth of Jesus, it is decorated with scenes reminiscent of elements of life. Characteristic of Gaudí’s naturalistic style, the sculptures are ornately arranged and decorated with scenes and images from nature, each a symbol in their own manner. For instance, the three porticos are separated by two large columns, and at the base of each lies a turtle or a tortoise (one to represent the land and the other the sea; each are symbols of time as something set in stone and unchangeable). In contrast to the figures of turtles and their symbolism, two chameleons can be found at either side of the façade, and are symbolic of change.

The façade faces the rising sun to the northeast, a symbol for the birth of Christ. It is divided into three porticos, each of which represents a theological virtue (Hope, Faith and Charity). The Tree of Life rises above the door of Jesus in the portico of Charity. Four towers complete the façade and are each dedicated to a Saint (Matthias the ApostleSaint BarnabasJude the Apostle, and Simon the Zealot).

Originally, Gaudí intended for this façade to be polychromed, for each archivolt to be painted with a wide array of colours. He wanted every statue and figure to be painted. In this way the figures of humans would appear as much alive as the figures of plants and animals.

Gaudí chose this façade to embody the structure and decoration of the whole church. He was well aware that he would not finish the church and that he would need to set an artistic and architectural example for others to follow. He also chose for this façade to be the first on which to begin construction and for it to be, in his opinion, the most attractive and accessible to the public. He believed that if he had begun construction with the Passion Façade, one that would be hard and bare (as if made of bones), before the Nativity Façade, people would have withdrawn at the sight of it.

Passion Façade

Short video showing architectural features of Sagrada Familia in 2001

In contrast to the highly decorated Nativity Façade, the Passion Façade is austere, plain and simple, with ample bare stone, and is carved with harsh straight lines to resemble a skeleton if it were reduced to only bone. Dedicated to the Passion of Christ, the suffering of Jesus during his crucifixion, the façade was intended to portray the sins of man. Construction began in 1954, following the drawings and instructions left by Gaudí for future architects and sculptors. The towers were completed in 1976, and in 1987 a team of sculptors, headed by Josep Maria Subirachs, began work sculpting the various scenes and details of the façade. They aimed to give a rigid, angular form to provoke a dramatic effect. Gaudí intended for this façade to strike fear into the onlooker. He wanted to “break” arcs and “cut” columns, and to use the effect of chiaroscuro (dark angular shadows contrasted by harsh rigid light) to further show the severity and brutality of Christ’s sacrifice.

Facing the setting sun, indicative and symbolic of the death of Christ, the Passion Façade is supported by six large and inclined columns, designed to resemble sequoia trunks. Above there is a pyramidal pediment, made up of eighteen bone-shaped columns, which culminate in a large cross with a crown of thorns. Each of the four towers is dedicated to an apostle (JamesThomasPhilip, orBartholomew) and, like the Nativity Façade, there are three porticos, each representing the theological virtues, though in a much different light.

The scenes sculpted into the façade may be divided into three levels, which ascend in an ‘S’ form and reproduce the Calvary, or Golgotha, of Christ. The lowest level depicts scenes from Jesus’ last night before the crucifixion, including The Last SupperKiss of JudasEcce Homo, and the Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus. The middle level portrays the Calvary, or Golgotha, of Christ, and includes The Three MarysSaint VeronicaSaint Longinus, and a hollow-face illusion of Christ. In the third and final level the Death, Burial and theResurrection of Christ can be seen. A bronze figure situated on a bridge creating a link between the towers of Saint Bartholomew and Saint Thomas represents the Ascension of Jesus.

Glory Façade

File:Sagrada Família Glory Facade 2011.jpg

Glory Façade under construction (October 2011).

The largest and most striking of the facades will be the Glory Façade, on which construction began in 2002. It will be the principal façade and will offer access to the central nave. Dedicated to the Celestial Glory of Jesus, it represents the road to God: Death, Final Judgment, and Glory, whileHell is left for those who deviate from God’s will. Aware that he would not live long enough to see this façade completed, Gaudí made only a general sketch of what the façade would look like. He intended for the temple, like many cathedrals and facades throughout history, not only to be completed by other architects but also to incorporate other architectural and artistic styles.

To reach the Glory Portico, there will be a large staircase, which will create an underground passage beneath Carrer Mallorca, representing Hell and vice. It will be decorated with demons, idols, false gods, heresy and schisms, etc. Purgatory and death will also be depicted, the latter using tombs along the ground. The portico will have seven large columns dedicated to spiritual gifts. At the base of the columns there will be representations of the Seven Deadly Sins, and at the top, The Seven Heavenly Virtues.


See also: Cathedral diagram and for definitions of the architectural terms

The church plan is that of a Latin cross with five aisles. The central nave vaults reach forty-five metres while the side nave vaults reach thirty metres. The transept has three aisles. The columns are on a 7.5 metre grid. However, the columns of the apse, resting on del Villar’s foundation, do not adhere to the grid, requiring a section of columns of the ambulatory to transition to the grid thus creating a horseshoe pattern to the layout of those columns. The crossing rests on the four central columns of porphyry supporting a great hyperboloid surrounded by two rings of twelve hyperboloids (currently under construction). The central vault reaches sixty metres. The apse is capped by a hyperboloid vault reaching seventy-five metres. Gaudí intended that a visitor standing at the main entrance be able to see the vaults of the nave, crossing, and apse, thus the graduated increase in vault loftiness.

Detail of the roof in the nave. Gaudi designed the columns to mirror trees and branches.

There are gaps in the floor of the apse, providing a view down into the crypt below.

The columns of the interior are a unique Gaudí design. Besides branching to support their load, their ever-changing surfaces are the result of the intersection of various geometric forms. The simplest example is that of a square base evolving into an octagon as the column rises, then a sixteen-sided form, and eventually to a circle. This effect is the result of a three-dimensional intersection of helicoidal columns (for example a square cross-section column twisting clockwise and a similar one twisting counter-clockwise).

Essentially none of the interior surfaces are flat; the ornamentation is comprehensive and rich, consisting in large part of abstract shapes which combine smooth curves and jagged points. Even detail-level work such as the iron railings for balconies and stairways are full of curvaceous elaboration.


In 2010 an organ was installed in the presbytery by the Blancafort Orgueners de Montserrat organ builders. The instrument has 26 stops (1,492 pipes) on two manuals and a pedalboard.

Pedal C–f1

1. Contrabajo 16′
2. Subajo 16′
3. Contras 8′
4. Bajo 8′
5. Coral 4′
6. Fagot 16′
I Organo Mayor C–g3

7. Flautado de cara 8′
8. Flautado Armonica 8′
9. Flautado Chimenea 8′
10. Octava 4′
11. Docena 4′
12. Quincena 2′
13. Decisetena 8′
14. Corneta V 8′
15. Lleno III-IV 11/3
16. Trompeta Real 8′
II Expressivo C–g3

17. Gran Principal 8′
18. Gamba 8′
19. Violon 8′
20. Voz Celeste 8′
21. Flautado Conica 4′
22. Tapadillo 4′
23. Nasardo 12a 22/3
24. Flabiolet 2′
25. Nasardo 17a 13/5
26. Oboe 8′
  • Couplers: II/I, I/P, II/P

To overcome the unique acoustical challenges posed by the church’s architecture and vast size, several additional organs will be installed at various points within the building. These instruments will be playable separately (from their own individual consoles) and simultaneously (from a single mobile console), yielding an organ of some 8000 pipes when completed.

Geometric details


Alpha and Omega carving at Sagrada Família entrance

The towers on the Nativity façade are crowned with geometrically shaped tops that are reminiscent of Cubism (they were finished around 1930), and the intricate decoration is contemporary to the style of Art Nouveau, but Gaudí’s unique style drew primarily from nature, not other artists or architects, and resists categorization.

Gaudí used hyperboloid structures in later designs of the Sagrada Família (more obviously after 1914), however there are a few places on the nativity façade—a design not equated with Gaudí’s ruled-surface design—where the hyperboloid crops up. For example, all around the scene with the pelican there are numerous examples (including the basket held by one of the figures). There is a hyperboloid adding structural stability to the cypress tree (by connecting it to the bridge). And finally, the “bishop’s mitre” spires are capped with hyperboloid structures.In his later designs, ruled surfaces are prominent in the nave’s vaults and windows and the surfaces of the Passion facade.


Themes throughout the decoration include words from the liturgy. The towers are decorated with words such as “Hosanna”, “Excelsis”, and “Sanctus”; the great doors of the Passion façade reproduce words from the Bible in various languages including Catalan; and the Glory façade is to be decorated with the words from the Apostles’ Creed. The three entrances symbolize the three virtues: Faith, Hope and Love. Each of them is also dedicated to a part of Christ’s life. The Nativity Façade is dedicated to his birth; it also has a cypress tree which symbolizes the tree of life. The Glory façade is dedicated to his glory period. The Passion façade is symbolic of his suffering. All in all, the Sagrada Família is symbolic of the lifetime of Christ.

Areas of the sanctuary will be designated to represent various concepts, such as saints, virtues and sins, and secular concepts such as regions, presumably with decoration to match.


Nikolaus Pevsner, writing in the 1960s, referred to Gaudi’s buildings as growing “like sugar loaves and anthills” and describes the ornamenting of buildings with shards of broken pottery as possibly “bad taste” but handled with vitality and “ruthless audacity”.

The building’s design itself has been polarizing. While Time Magazine called it ‘sensual, spiritual, whimsical, exuberant’,George Orwell called it ‘one of the most hideous buildings in the world’ and James A. Michener called it “one of the strangest-looking serious buildings in the world”. The building’s distinctive silhouette has nevertheless become symbolic of Barcelona itself, drawing an estimated 2.5 million visitors annually.

World Heritage status

With six other Gaudí buildings in Barcelona, la Sagrada Familia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as testifying “to Gaudí’s exceptional creative contribution to the development of architecture and building technology”, “having represented el Modernisme of Catalonia” and “anticipated and influenced many of the forms and techniques that were relevant to the development of modern construction in the 20th century”.


Visitors can access the Nave, Crypt, Museum, Shop, and the Passion and Nativity towers. While visitors could previously access the towers directly at no cost, their access currently is possible only by lift and a walk up the remainder of the towers, over the bridge between the towers and descent via the opposite tower by spiral staircase.

As of August 2010, there is a service for faster entry whereby visitors can buy an entry code either at Servicaixa ATM kiosks (part of ‘La Caixa’) or online.


Construction on Sagrada Família is not supported by any government or official church sources. Private patrons funded the initial stages. Money from tickets purchased by tourists is now used to pay for the work, and private donations are accepted through the Friends of the Sagrada Família.

The construction budget for 2009 was €18 million.


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  • Passion façade (April 2012)


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West Side of Sagrada Familia

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Sagrada Familia  taken in March 2006

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Passion façade (2004)

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Nativity façade (2004)

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Scale model at the Catalunya en Miniatura park

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Nave ceiling (2011)

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Standing in the transept and looking northeast (2011)

Basilica of St Denis

Post 2.396

Basilica of St Denis

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and others
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West façade of Saint Denis

The Cathedral Basilica of Saint Denis (French: Cathédrale royale de Saint-Denis, or simply Basilique Saint-Denis, previously the Abbaye de Saint-Denis) is a large medieval abbey church in the commune of Saint-Denis, now a northern suburb of Paris. The abbey church was created a cathedral in 1966 and is the seat of the Bishop of Saint-Denis, Pascal Michel Ghislain Delannoy. The building is of unique importance historically and architecturally.

Founded in the 7th century by Dagobert I on the burial place of Saint Denis, a patron saint of France, the church became a place of pilgrimage and the burial place of the French Kings, nearly every king from the 10th to the 18th centuries being buried there, as well as many from the previous centuries. (It was not used for the coronations of kings, this role being designated to the Cathedral of Reims; however, queens were commonly crowned there.) “Saint-Denis” soon became the abbey church of a growing monastic complex. In the 12th century the Abbot Suger rebuilt portions of the abbey church using innovative structural and decorative features that were drawn from a number of other sources. In doing so, he is said to have created the first truly Gothic building.The basilica’s 13th century nave is also the prototype for the Rayonnant Gothic style, and provided an architectural model for cathedrals and abbeys of northern France, England and other countries



15th century painting by the Master of Saint Giles, showing St Denis saying mass before Charlemagne or Charles Martel with what is thought to be a largely accurate view of the abbey with a crux gemmata given by Charles the Bald and gold altar frontal, both destroyed in the Revolution.

Saint Denis is a patron saint of France and, according to legend, was the first bishop of Paris. Following his decapitation on the Hill of Montmartre, Denis supposedly carried his head to the site of the current church, thereby indicating where he wanted to be buried. A martyrium was subsequently erected on the site. There Dagobert I, king of the Franks (reigned 628 to 637), founded the Abbey of Saint Denis, a Benedictine monastery. Dagobert also commissioned a new shrine to house the saint’s remains, which was created by his chief councillor, Eligius, a goldsmith by training. It was described in an early vita of Saint Eligius:

Above all, Eligius fabricated a mausoleum for the holy martyr Denis in the city of Paris with a wonderful marble ciborium over it marvelously decorated with gold and gems. He composed a crest [at the top of a tomb] and a magnificent frontal and surrounded the throne of the altar with golden axes in a circle. He placed golden apples there, round and jeweled. He made a pulpit and a gate of silver and a roof for the throne of the altar on silver axes. He made a covering in the place before the tomb and fabricated an outside altar at the feet of the holy martyr. So much industry did he lavish there, at the king’s request, and poured out so much that scarcely a single ornament was left in Gaul and it is the greatest wonder of all to this very day.

None of this work survives.


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The choir

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The north transept rose shows the Creation.

The Basilica of St Denis is an architectural landmark as it was the first major structure of which a substantial part was designed and built in the Gothic style. Both stylistically and structurally it heralded the change from Romanesque architecture to Gothic architecture. Before the term “Gothic” came into common use, it was known as the “French Style” (Opus Francigenum).

As it now stands, the church is a large cruciform building of “basilica” form, that is, it has a central nave with lower aisles and clerestory windows. It has an additional aisle on the northern side formed of a row of chapels. The west front has three portals, a rose window and one tower, on the southern side. The eastern end, which is built over a crypt, is apsidal, surrounded by an ambulatory and a chevet of nine radiating chapels. The basilica retains stained glass of many periods (although most of the panels from Suger’s time have been removed for long-term conservation and replaced with photographic transparencies), including exceptional modern glass, and a set of twelve misericords.

 The Carolingian church

Little is known about the earliest buildings on the site. The first church mentioned in the chronicles was begun in 754 under Pepin the Short and completed under Charlemagne, who was present at its consecration in 775. Most of what is now known about the Carolingian church at St Denis resulted from a lengthy series of excavations begun under the American art historian Sumner McKnight Crosby in 1937. The building was about 60m long, with a monumental westwork, single transepts, a crossing tower and a lengthy eastern apse over a large crypt (parts of which survive). According to one of the Abbey’s many foundation myths a leper, who was sleeping in the nearly-completed church the night before its planned consecration, witnessed a blaze of light from which Christ, accompanied by St Denis and a host of angels emerged to conduct the consecration ceremony himself. Before leaving, Christ healed the leper, tearing off his diseased skin to reveal a perfect complexion underneath. A mishapen patch on a marble column was said to be the leper’s former skin, which stuck there when Christ discarded it. Fantastical though they may seem now, the popularity of such myths in medieval accounts go some way to explaining why any redevelopment of the original church was a sensitive matter and why Suger found it necessary to go to such lengths to justify his changes. Having been consecrated by Christ, the fabric of the building was itself regarded as sacred.

 The Early Gothic rebuilding

Abbot Suger (circa 1081-1151), friend and confidant of French kings and Abbot of St Denis from 1122, began work around 1135 on the rebuilding and enlarging of the abbey to which he had been given as an oblate at the age of 10. In his famous account of the work undertaken during his administration, Suger was careful to explain and justify his decision to rebuild the church, complaining at length about the parlous state of the old structure and its inability to cope with the crowds of pilgrims visiting the shrine of St Denis, particularly

…on special days such as the feast of the blessed Denis […] when the narrowness of the place forced women to run to the altar on the heads of men as on a pavement with great anguish and confusion.

It is important to emphasise that Suger was the patron of the rebuilding of St Denis but not the architect, as was often assumed in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In fact it appears that two distinct architects, or master masons, were involved in the 12th century changes. Both remain anonymous but their work can be distinguished on stylistic grounds. The first, who was responsible for the initial work at the western end, favoured conventional Romanesque capitals and moulding profiles with rich and individualised detailing. His successor, who completed the western facade and upper stories of the narthex, before going on to build the new choir, displayed a more restrained approach to decorative effects, relying on a simple repertoire of motifs, which may have proved more suitable for the lighter Gothic style that he helped to create.

 First phase – the westwork, c.1135-40

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Tympanum and lintel of the central portal, showing Last Judgement iconography (c.1135, restored 1839)

Suger began his rebuilding project at the western end of St Denis, demolishing the old Carolingian westwork, with its single, centrally located door. He extended the old nave westwards by an additional four bays and added a massive western narthex, incorporating a new façade and three chapels on the first floor level. This new westwork, 34m wide and 20m deep, featured three great doorways, the central one larger than those either side, reflecting the relative sizes of the nave’s central vessel and lateral aisles within. This tripartite arrangement was clearly influenced by the late 11th century façades of the abbey churches of St Etienne and La Trinité in Caen, 150 miles to the west, with which it also shared a three story elevation and flanking towers (of which only the south tower survives, its partner having been dismantled following clumsy repairs in the 1840s).

The major innovation in the façade at St Denis is the way the unknown architects have chosen to emphasise the divisions between the different parts, with massive vertical buttresses separating the three doorways and with horizontal string-courses and window arcades clearly marking out the vertical divisions. As well as its obvious influence on subsequent west façade designs, this clear delineation of parts is a common theme in the development of Gothic architecture and a marked departure from earlier Romanesque designs. Also innovative was the rose window at the centre of the upper story of the west portal (destroyed during the Revolution – the current window is a 19th century replacement). Although small circular windows (oculi) within triangular tympana were common on the west facades of Italian Romanesque churches, this was probably the first example of a rose window within a square frame, which was to become a dominant feature of the Gothic facades of northern France (soon to be imitated at Chartres Cathedral and many others). The overall design of the façade has an obvious resemblance to a Roman city gatehouse (an impression strengthened by the buttresses and by the crenellations around the top), which helps to emphasise the traditional notion of great churches as earthly embodiments of the Heavenly City, as described in the Book of Ezekiel.

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Some of Montfaucon’s drawings of the Old Testament jamb figures from the west façade (destroyed 1771)

Among the many influential features of the new façade were the tall, thin statues of Old Testament prophets and kings attached to columns (jamb figures) flanking the portals (destroyed in 1771 but recorded in Montfaucon‘s drawings). These were also adopted at the cathedrals of Paris and Chartres, constructed a few years later, and became a feature of almost every Gothic portal thereafter. Above the doorways, the central tympanum was carved with a Last Judgement scene; Christ enthroned, displaying his wounds with the dead emerging from their tombs below. Scenes from the martyrdom of St Denis were carved above the south (right hand) portal, while above the north portal was a mosaic (lost), even though this was, as Suger put it ‘contrary to the modern custom’. Of the original sculpture, very little remains, most of what is now visible being the result of rather clumsy restoration work in 1839.. Some fragments of the original sculptures survive in the collection of the Musée de Cluny. The portals themselves were sealed by gilded bronze doors, ornamented with scenes from Christ’s Passion and clearly recording Suger’s patronage with the following inscription;

For the glory of the church which nurtured and raised him, Suger strove for the glory of the church, Sharing with you what is yours, oh martyr Denis. He prays that by your prayers he should become a sharer in Paradise. The year when it was consecrated was the one thousand, one hundred and fortieth year of the Word.

On the lintel below the great tympanum showing the Last Judgement, beneath a carved figure of the kneeling Abbot, was inscribed the more modest plea;

Receive, stern Judge, the prayers of your Suger, Let me be mercifully numbered among your sheep.

Suger’s western extension was completed in 1140 and the three new chapels in the narthex were consecrated on 9th June of that year.

 Second phase – the new choir, 1140-44

On completion of the west front, Abbot Suger moved on to the reconstruction of the eastern end, leaving the Carolingian nave in use. He wanted a choir (chancel) that would be suffused with light. To achieve his aims, Suger’s masons drew on the several new elements which evolved or had been introduced to Romanesque architecture: the pointed arch, the ribbed vault, the ambulatory with radiating chapels, the clustered columns supporting ribs springing in different directions and the flying buttresses which enabled the insertion of large clerestory windows.

It was the first time that these features had all been drawn together. Erwin Panofsky argued that Suger was inspired to create a physical representation of the Heavenly Jerusalem, however the extent to which Suger had any aims higher than aesthetic pleasure has been called into doubt by more recent art historians on the basis of Suger’s own writings.

The new structure was finished and dedicated on June 11, 1144, in the presence of the King. The Abbey of St Denis thus became the prototype for further building in the royal domain of northern France. Through the rule of the Angevin dynasty, the style was introduced to England and spread throughout France, the Low Countries, Germany, Spain, northern Italy and Sicily.

 The Rayonnant rebuilding of the nave

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The glazed triforium of St Denis is a notable feature of Rayonnant Gothic

In 1231, Abbot Odo Clement began work on the rebuilding of the Carolingian nave, which remained sandwiched incongruously between Suger’s far more up-to-date Gothic works to the east and west. From the start it appears that Abbot Odo, with the approval of the Regent Blanche of Castille and her son, the young King Louis IX, planned for the new nave and its large crossing to have a much clearer focus as the French ‘royal necropolis’. That plan was fulfilled in 1264 when the bones of 16 former kings and queens were relocated to new tombs arranged around the crossing – 8 Carolingian monarchs to the south and 8 Capetians the north. These tombs, featuring life-like carved recumbent effigies or gisants lying on raised bases, were badly damaged during the French revolution though all but two were subsequently restored by Viollet le Duc in 1860.

The dark romanesque nave, with its thick walls and small window openings, was rebuilt using the very latest techniques, in what is now known as Rayonnant Gothic. This new style, which differed from Suger’s earlier works as much as they had differed from their Romanesque precursors, reduced the wall area to an absolute minimum. Solid masonry was replaced with vast window openings filled with brilliant stained glass (all destroyed in the Revolution) and interrupted only by the most slender of bar tracery – not only in the clerestory but also, perhaps for the first time, in the normally dark triforium level. The upper facades of the two much-enlarged transepts were filled with two spectacular 12m-wide rose windows. As with Suger’s earlier rebuilding work, the identity of the architect or master mason is unknown. Although often attributed to Pierre de Montreuil, the only evidence for his involvement is an unrelated document of 1247 which refers to him as ‘a mason from Saint-Denis’.

 The Valois Mortuary Chapel

A plan of circa 1700 by Félibien shows a large mortuary chapel in the form of a domed colonnaded “rotunda”, adjoining the north transept of the basilica and containing the tomb of the Valois.

 Burial site

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The nave of the Basilica of St. Denis. Shot from the chancel

The abbey is where the kings of France and their families were buried for centuries and is therefore often referred to as the “royal necropolis of France”. All but three of the monarchs of France from the 10th century until 1789 have their remains here. Some monarchs, like Clovis I (465-511), were not originally buried at this site. The remains of Clovis I were exhumed from the despoiled Abbey of St Genevieve which he founded.

The abbey church contains some fine examples of cadaver tombs. The effigies of many of the kings and queens are on their tombs, but during the French Revolution, these tombs were opened by workers under orders from revolutionary officials. The bodies were removed and dumped in two large pits nearby and dissolved with lime. Archaeologist Alexandre Lenoir saved many of the monuments from the same revolutionary officials by claiming them as artworks for his Museum of French Monuments.

The bodies of the beheaded King Louis XVI, his wife Marie Antoinette of Austria, and his sister Madame Élisabeth were not initially buried in Saint-Denis, but rather in the churchyard of the Madeleine, where they were covered with quicklime. The body of the Dauphin, who died of an illness, was buried in an unmarked grave in a Parisian churchyard near the Temple.

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Memorial to King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, sculptures by Edme Gaulle and Pierre Petitot

Napoleon Bonaparte reopened the church in 1806, but allowed the royal remains to be left in their mass graves. During Napoleon’s exile in Elba, the restored Bourbons ordered a search for the corpses of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The few remains, a few bones that were presumably the king’s and a clump of greyish matter containing a lady’s garter, were found on January 21, 1815, brought to Saint-Denis and buried in the crypt. In 1817 the mass graves containing all the other remains were opened, but it was impossible to distinguish any one from the collection of bones. The remains were therefore placed in an ossuary in the crypt of the church, behind two marble plates with the names of the hundreds of members of the succeeding French dynasties that were interred in the church duly recorded.

King Louis XVIII, upon his death in 1824, was buried in the center of the crypt, near the graves of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. The coffins of royal family members that died between 1815 and 1830 were also placed in the vaults. Under the direction of architect Viollet-le-Duc, famous for his work on Notre-Dame de Paris, church monuments that were taken to the Museum of French Monuments were returned to the church. The corpse of King Louis VII, who had been buried at the Abbey at Saint-Pont and whose tomb had not been touched by the revolutionaries, was brought to Saint-Denis and buried in the crypt. In 2004 the mummified heart of the Dauphin, the boy that would have been Louis XVII, was sealed into the wall of the crypt.


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Charles I of Naples (or Anjou).

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Tomb of Charles Martel.

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Henry I in background, Robert II, John I d. 1316 and Jeanne d. 1349

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Tomb of Philip IV.

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Saint Denis Basilica – (From left clockwise) Gisants Bertrand du Guesclin, Charles VI, Isabeau of Bavaria, Louis de Sancerre, Charles V, Jeanne de Bourbon


All but three of the Kings of France are buried in the basilica, as well as a few other monarchs. The remains of the earlier monarchs were removed from the destroyed Abbey of St Genevieve. Some of the prominent of these are:

 Other royalty and nobility


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Basilique Saint-Denis de Saint-Denis au nord de Paris

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Inside view of stained glass, St. Denis Cathedral, St. Denis, France, upper choir


Interior Photo of Saint Denis Church in north Paris. As shot of the northeast nave with the sun coming in from the south. If you look carefully, one of the plates of glass is actually plywood. Photographed in December 2001 by Ben Johnson. Copyright 2001 Ben Johnson. Submitted to Wikipedia by the photographer and freely licensed for use under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Original uploader:Ben Johnson

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The tomb of Louis XII of France and Anne de Bretagne in the Basilica of Saint Denis, Paris, France

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Tomb of Dagobert, Saint Denis Basilica

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The nativity depicted as part of the 12th-c. Life of Christ window in the Basilica of St. Denis, Paris.

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Depiction of the Trinity on the portal of the Basilica of St.-Denis, France


Fulrad, Abbot of Saint-Denis

St. Denis Plan

Ambulatory & radiating chapels, Abbey Church of St Denis – Diagram


San Agustin Church, Manila

San Agustin Church, Manila

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

San Agustin Church is a Roman Catholicchurch under the auspices of The Order of St. Augustine, located inside the historic walled city of Intramuros in Manila. Completed by 1607, it is the oldest church still standing in the Philippines.No other surviving building in the Philippines has been claimed to pre-date San Agustin Church.

In 1993, San Agustin Church was one of four Philippine churches constructed during the Spanish colonial period to be designated as a World Heritage Site byUNESCO , under the classification “Baroque Churches of the Philippines“. It had been named a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine government in 1976.

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San Agustin Church

Basic information
Location IntramurosManila,Philippines
Geographic coordinates 14°35′20″N120°58′29″

ECoordinates14°35′20″N 120°58′29″E

Affiliation Roman Catholic
Year consecrated 1607
Ecclesiastical or organizational status church
Status active
Heritage designation 1993
Architectural description
Architect(s) Juan Macias
Architectural type Church
Architectural style baroque
Groundbreaking 1586
Completed 1607
Length 67.15 metres (220.3 ft)
Width 24.93 metres (81.8 ft)
Materials adobe stones


The present structure is actually the third Augustinian church erected on the site.The first San Agustin Church was the first religious structure constructed by theSpaniards on the island of  Luzon. Made of bamboo and nipa, it was completed in 1571, but destroyed by fire in December, 1574 during the attempted invasion of Manila by the forces of Limahong.

san agustin church manila

A second church made of wood was constructed on the site. This was destroyed in February 1583, in a fire that started when a candle set ablaze the drapes of the funeral bier during the interment of theSpanish Governor-General Gonzalo Ronquillo de Penalosa.

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The interior of the San Agustín Churchin Intramuros, with magnificent trompe l’oeil mural on its ceiling and walls

The Augustinians decided to rebuild the church using stone, and to construct as well an adjacentmonastery. Construction began in 1586, from the design of Juan Macias. The structure was built using hewn adobe stones quarried from Meycauayan,Binangonan and San Mateo, Rizal. The work proceeded slowly due to the lack of funds and materials, as well as the relative scarcity of stone The monastery was operational by 1604, and the church was formally declared complete on January 19, 1607, and named St. Paul of Manila.Macias, who had died before the completion of the church, was officially acknowledged by the Augustinians as the builder of the edifice.

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Damage to San Agustin Church after the series of earthquakes in July 1880

San Agustin Church was looted by the British forces which occupied Manila in 1762 during the Seven Years’ War. In 1854, the church was renovated under the supervision of architect Luciano Oliver.Nine years later, on June 3, 1863, the strongest earthquake at that time, hit Manila leaving widespread destruction to the city with San Agustin Church, the only public building left undamaged in the city. A series of strong earthquakes struck Manila again in 1880 – from the 18th of July to the 20th. This time, the tremors left a huge crack on the left bell tower of the church. The crack was eventually repaired but the left tower was permanently removed as it appears today. The church withstood the other major earthquakes that struck Manila before in 1645, 1699, 1754, 1796, 1825 and 1852.

On August 18, 1898, the church was the site where Spanish Governor-General Fermin Jaudenes prepared the terms for the surrender of Manila to the United States of America following the Spanish-American War. During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II, San Agustin Church was turned into a concentration camp for prisoners. In the final days of the Battle of Manila, hundreds of Intramuros residents and clergy were held hostage in the church by Japanese soldiers; many of the hostages would be killed during the three-week long battle. The church itself survived the bombardment of Intramuros by American and Filipino forces with only its roof damaged, the only one of the seven churches in the walled city to remain standing. The adjacent monastery however was totally destroyed, and would be rebuilt in the 1970s as a museum under the design of architect Angel Nakpil.


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The ornately carved main door of San Agustin Church.

San Agustín Church measures 67.15 meters long and 24.93 meters wide.. Its elliptical foundation has allowed it to withstand the numerous earthquakes that have destroyed many other Manila churches. It is said that the design was derived from churches built by the Augustinians in Mexico. The facade is unassuming and even criticized as “lacking grace and charm”, but it has notable baroque touches, especially the ornate carvings on its wooden doors.The church courtyard is graced by several granite sculptures of lions, which had been gifted by Chineseconverts to Catholicism.

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The church interior is in the form of Latin cross.The church has 14 side chapels and a trompe-l’œilceiling painted in 1875 by Italian artists Cesare Alberoni and Giovanni Dibella. Up in the choir loft are hand-carved 17th-century seats of molave, a beautiful tropical hardwood.

The church contains the tomb of Spanishconquistadors Miguel López de LegazpiJuan de Salcedo and Martín de Goiti, as well as several early Spanish Governors-General and archbishops. Their bones are buried in a communal vault near the main altar. The painter Juan Luna, and the statesmen Pedro A. Paterno and Trinidad Pardo de Tavera are among the hundreds of laypersons whose remains are also housed within the church.

San Agustin Church also hosts an image of Our Lady of Consolation (Nuestra Senora de Consolacion y Correa), which was canonically crowned by Manila Archbishop Cardinal Jaime Sinin 2000.

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  • Interior of San Agustin Church

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