Photo Of The Day: The Magnificent Spanish Church 133 Years In The Making

Gaudi Sagrada Familia

Image Source: National Geographic

“My client is not in a hurry.”

Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí’s words couldn’t ring more true as his marvelous masterwork Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family, commonly known as La Sagrada Família, finally enters its final phase of construction.

The soaring Roman Catholic basilica has been under construction in Barcelona since 1883, when Gaudí became the chief architect. He worked on the church for 43 years, transforming the then-modest Gothic church into a breathtaking structure, until his life was tragically taken in a fatal tram accident, in 1926. At the time, just a quarter of his project had been completed.

The most-visited monument in Spain rises hundreds of feet above downtown Barcelona and attracts some 3 million visitors a year. After Gaudí’s death, it was widely believed the Sagrada Família would never be completed, with some even believing it should remain unfinished.

But after 133 years, the current chief architect, Jordi Faulí, has finally announced a completion date sometime in 2026, on the centennial of Gaudí’s death. With more than 70% of the structure completed, the tallest religious building in Europe will tower at 564 feet tall and have 18 towers by the time it is, at long last, complete.

PHOTOS: This Is What Spain’s “Versailles” Looks Like In Fall

After visiting Spain for the commemoration of the nation’s 60-year membership with the United Nations on October 30th, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon took a private tour of the city of Segovia. Located in central Spain, the small, walled city makes for a wonderful trip for history lovers, with its medieval castles and the best-preserved Roman aqueduct in the world. One of its villages, La Granja de San Ildefonso, is home to a fantastic Royal Palace that was used as the king’s summer residence for 200 years. The leaves of the sprawling royal gardens are now changing, and the Secretary General and his wife did not want to miss it. After visiting ourselves, we can see why:

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Fall Granja Palace View

A view of the palace from the entry. King Felipe V developed the grounds toward the beginning of the 18th century, modeling them after Versailles, the French palace which Felipe's great-grandfather, Louis XIV, had built.

Fall Granja Street View

Another of the avenues in the Royal Gardens of La Granja de San Ildefonso. The grounds are only 50 miles from Madrid and not even 7 miles from the city of Segovia.

Fall Granja Fountain Water

In front of the Royal Palace, on top of a marble fountain called The Fall, rests the Fountain of the Three Graces. It is possibly the most photogenic view of the mansion.

Fall Granja Entrance Palace

Right at the entrance of the Royal Palace, one can find the organized beauty of the Royal Gardens, which are modeled after Versailles in Paris.

Fall Granja Statue Deer

A sculpture of a hunter and deer.

Fall Granja Fame Fountain

All 21 fountains in the La Granja gardens tell mythological stories. In this one, called "The Fame" (La Fama), Pegasus is carrying Fame while she plays a trumpet. The winged horse is stepping on four soldiers, which represent envy, pettiness, malice and ignorance. When functioning, the water stream reaches 137 feet.

Fall Granja Closer View

A view of the palace from behind an imitation bronze lion sculpture.

Fall Granja Sea Lake

Visitors can find a fishing pond that provides water to some of the fountains.

Fall Granja Statue Palace

The late days of October and the month of November are perhaps the most beautiful time of the year to visit this old farm. The grounds used to belong to a group of monks, but transferred ownership when Felipe purchased the grounds in 1719.

Fall Granja Statue Cocodrile

Across the 360-acre property visitors can find mythological representations, not only on fountains, but also on the dozens of sculptures scattered throughout the grounds.

Fall Granja Fountain Leaves

Another view of one of the grounds' 21 fountains.

Fall Granja Lookout Mountains

La Granja de San Ildefonso is located at the foot of the mountains that split the region of Madrid and the region of Castilla y León.

Fall Granja Statue Soldier

A statue of a soldier.

Fall Granja Frogs Fountain

This fountain tells the story of Latona, the mother of Roman goddess Diana. Latona was thirsty and asked some farmers to give her water. Because they refused her mother's request, Diana converted them into frogs.

Fall Granja Statue Greek

A view of a Greek statue at La Granja.

Fall Granja Neptune Fountain

The Neptune Fountain is part of a ‘horse ride’ between three of the fountains, whose plumbing system works together for dramatic waterwork displays in the summer.

Fall Granja Neptune Perspective

Another view of the fountains.

Fall Granja Flowers Jar

A large urn in the La Granja grounds.

Fall Granja Detail Statue

Another statue in the La Granja grounds.

Fall Granja Vase Coat

The Royal Gardens of La Granja tell us the history of the country. This vase portrays the ‘Fleur de Lis’ (the French symbol, the Lily Flower) and the Spanish old coat d’arms.

Fall Granja Eight Crossroad

Detail of “The Fountains of the Eight Streets,” a crossroad of eight gardened avenues, with eight different fountains that represent eight different Greek gods. In the center, a statue represents the god Mercury.

Fall Granja Diana Baths

One of the most beautiful fountains is Los Baños de Diana (Diana’s Baths). It is also the biggest fountain and the last to be built. In it, the haunting goddess, Diana, is taking a bath when she is accidentally discovered by a shepherd, Acteon.

In the myth, Acteon becomes a deer by Diana’s wishes and is eaten by his own dogs.

Fall Granja Diana Detail

undefinedDetail of Diana’s Baths. The fountains are only turned on during the summer to commemorate national and regional festivities.

Fall Granja Dragons Fountain

A detail of one of the fountains, called “Of the Dragons Below.” The fountains in La Granja are made of lead, with a layer of imitation bronze paint.

Fall Granja Fountain Lake

A view of the La Granja pond.

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All images come courtesy of Teresa Cantero. Use by permission. All rights reserved.

Meet The President Of Liberland, A Tea Party Paradise In Eastern Europe

Liberland Country President Flag

Mr. Vít Jedlička with the flag of Liberland. Image Source: Liberland Press Office

Vít Jedlička wasn’t happy with his home country, the Czech Republic, so he decided to start his own. He searched the world high and low for the perfect spot, and found it in a small piece of terra-nullius (no-man’s land) between Croatia and Serbia. He called his scant, 2.7-square mile (7 sq. km) kingdom Liberland. On April 13th of this year, Jedlička arrived in Liberland with his girlfriend and a childhood friend, put down a flag and claimed the territory.

The euro-skeptic, who still presides over the libertarian-leaning Free Citizens Party in the Czech Republic, spoke exclusively with ATI on the six-month anniversary of Liberland’s founding. A demilitarized zone with “outsourced prisons” where everybody can carry a gun and marry whomever they want, but where the microstate will not offer any type of public education or health, Liberland has just launched its new coin – called the merit – and the leadership professes admiration for the United States’ Tea Party movement.

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Photo Of The Day: Artist Turns Vladimir Lenin Statue Into Darth Vader

Lenin Darth Vader Statue

The Lenin statue before and after its transformation. Image Source: SFGate

The Dark Side has established itself in Odessa, Ukraine.

A statue of Vladimir Lenin, brutal leader of the Bolshevik Revolution and key figure in the creation of the Soviet Union, was converted into a statue of Darth Vader in response to a law requiring local governments to remove communist and Nazi symbols and names. Alexander Milov, a Ukrainian sculptor who made his mark in the art world at the Burning Man festival this year, was behind the statue’s transformation.

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