Few of the world's great architects are identified with a single city the way Antonio Gaudi is identified with Barcelona. The works of Gaudi, who died 60 years ago, can still startle any visitor, and the towers of his unfinished temple known as the Sagrada Familia have become a symbol of Catalonia's capital much as Paris has the Eiffel Tower and New York the Statue of Liberty.
Gaudi, a puzzling figure in the history of architecture, has become almost a cult figure now. Speaking carefully but robustly from the Barcelona apartment where he is now confined by age, 95-year-old Isidre Puig Boada, an architect who worked with Gaudi early in this century and directed construction of the Sagrada Familia many years after Gaudi's death, said recently, "Next to all other architects, Gaudi is the sun."
At the height of his reputation in 1918, Gaudi stopped accepting private commissions and devoted himself entirely to the Sagrada Familia. Work on the temple was still not finished in 1926 when he was struck down by a trolley in Barcelona. Unrecognized, Gaudi was taken unconscious to a hospital where he died several days later.