Sure, Gaudí's church Sagrada Familia is a must-see in Barcelona. But maybe you'd like to see something a little more off-the-beaten-path next time you're in Spain? If so, think on this hot tip, thanks to Laughing Squid:
Near Madrid, there is a 90-year-old monk who has been building his own cathedral (which he has named Nuestra Senora del Pilar) by hand since 1961. Justo Gallego Martinez (also known as Don Justo) joined a monastery in 1961, but he came down with tuberculosis shortly after and had to leave. He promised that if he recovered, he'd build a shrine to Our Lady of the Pillar, to whom he'd prayed through his illness. He did recover and he held true to his word, beginning the epic project right away on land he inherited from his parents.
He was never an architect — he was a laborer and farmer who had a vision. And his vision has continued on for decades. Even now, in his old age, he still devotes his life to building the cathedral.
He realizes that it can’t be finished in his lifetime, so he hopes that he is buried there and that the building continues beyond his death. He lives here, prays here, and works here.
If you’re looking for an unforgettable sight to see when traveling in Spain, put this handmade cathedral on your list. Though it is not complete, it’s already a beauty. When you look at the tall domed ceiling or the curves of the stained glass windows, it seems unbelievable that a person without formal training would be the mastermind of it all, but it’s true. Add this to your itinerary for your next trip to Spain and you might just get lucky enough to meet the monk yourself.
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