Gaudí’s historic gift to Chile becomes reality

Nearly a century ago, Antoni Gaudí gifted the design of the Chapel of Our Lady of the Sacred Family to Fray Angélico Aranda, a priest from Rancagua, Chile. Now, this long-forgotten architectural gem will become reality.

Bringing Gaudí's vision to life in Rancagua

In a remarkable convergence of history, architecture, and cultural exchange, Chile is set to become home to the only work of Antoni Gaudí outside of Spain. The project, a chapel designed by Gaudí for Sagrada Família in Barcelona, was gifted to the Franciscan friar Angélico Aranda in 1922 and will soon be realized in Rancagua, Chile.

A Historic Gift

The story begins in 1909 when Fray Angélico Aranda, a Chilean Franciscan friar with a passion for art and architecture, met Antoni Gaudí during a visit to the Sagrada Família in Barcelona. This meeting sparked a friendship rooted in their shared devotion to faith and love for art. In 1922, Aranda wrote to Gaudí, requesting plans for a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Our Lady of the Angels, similar to a chapel Gaudí was designing for the Sagrada Família. Touched by the friar’s earnest request and devotion, Gaudí agreed and sent him the plans.

Rediscovery and Revival

The plans for the chapel lay forgotten for decades, surviving both Gaudí’s death in 1926 and the Spanish Civil War, which destroyed much of his work. The project resurfaced in 1973 when Joan Bassegoda, a director of the Gaudí Chair in Barcelona, uncovered the correspondence between him and Aranda. This discovery reignited interest in the project, eventually leading to a dedicated effort to realize Gaudí’s vision in Chile.

The project's scope

The planned site for the chapel is Parque Cataluña in Rancagua. The chapel will be part of a larger cultural and spiritual center, designed to serve as a hub for artistic and community activities.

Architectural significance

The chapel itself is a masterpiece of Gaudí’s innovative architectural style, incorporating complex shapes and structures such as hyperboloids and paraboloids. These elements reflect Gaudí’s profound understanding of geometry and his desire to create structures that are both functional and deeply symbolic. The chapel’s design also draws inspiration from the Litera de la Virgen by the Baroque sculptor Lluís Bonifaç i Massó, blending historical artistic influences with Gaudí’s unique vision.

A vision for the future

The realization of this project is a testament to the enduring legacy of Antoni Gaudí and the power of cross-cultural collaboration. It aims to transform Rancagua into a center for cultural tourism, highlighting the city’s rich history and its connection to one of the greatest architects of all time.

The chapel will stand as a beacon of spiritual and cultural unity, embodying Gaudí’s vision of harmony between nature, art, and faith. As the project moves forward, it promises to create a space where visitors can reflect on the beauty of the natural world and the creativity of the human spirit, in a setting that bridges continents and centuries.

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