The tragic end of a brilliant architect’s fascinating career
Antoni Gaudí was walking along Barcelona’s Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes on the afternoon of June 7, 1926 on his way from the Sagrada Familia to the church of Sant Felip Neri where he often stopped by in the evening to make confession. As he attempted to cross the wide boulevard between calle Girona and calle Bailén he was struck by a streetcar. Taken for a beggar due to his humble and somewhat shabby appearance, Gaudí lay unconscious in the midst of the busy thoroughfare until a policeman hailed a taxi and instructed the driver to transport him to the Hospital de la Santa Creu. As the architect had not been carrying any identification documents, no one there one realized who he was. When Gil Parés, the chaplain of the Sagrada Familia, recognized him the following morning, the severely injured Gaudí was beyond all help. He expired in the same hospital around five o’ clock on the afternoon of June 10 at the age of 74. His burial in the Nuestra Señora del Carmen chapel in the crypt of the Sagrada Familia on June 12 was attended by grieving throngs of admirers. (Source: Wikipedia)
Ninety years have passed since Antoni Gaudí died in the Hospital of Santa Creu, where he had been admitted the day before—not as the renowned architect he was, but rather as an unidentified, white-bearded old man who had inadvertently been struck by a streetcar.
In 1883, a much younger but equally unrecognized Gaudí fresh out of architectural school undertook the design of Casa Vicens—a commission that would mark the first step in the construction of a long and brilliant career that would abruptly end in a tragic traffic accident in 1926.
Gaudí’s architectural style, beliefs, values, and life style would all evolve during the course of the forty-three years that separated these events: the young, unknown architect who would become a recognized master in his field was to pass the final hours of life once again as a solitary, unknown figure. Ashes to ashes …