Welcome to the first post of my Spain trip! I figured why not start it off with perhaps the most famous attraction of my ten day trip – the Sagrada Familia! The number one tourist attraction in the entire city of Barcelona is Basilica of the Sagrada Familia and my mom and I took an afternoon tour on our second day in town. As we had already had a busy morning we arrived nearly an hour ahead of schedule and picked up lunch at a grocery store, including a much necessary Coca Cola light, and ate it in the park in front of the nativity side of the church.
After lunch and a few photos in the Plaça de Gaudí we crosses the street and passed through the heavy security onto the grounds of the Sagrada Familia. I had booked our tour a few months ahead and am glad I did as the line for same day tickets was hours long and that was only to get in. The guided tour in England cost 22 Euro per person to get in which is quite unheard of for a church, but not for a city’s top tourist attraction. Towards the end of the tour another guest asked our guide how the construction of this still unfinished church was being funded and he shared that with the millions of visitors per year the admission covers the funding needed.
Our tour started outside at Nativity Façade of the Sagrada Família and the first point that was made very clear was that this was a basilica, not a cathedral, and the name literally translates into holy family or sacred family. After this point of clarification we began by staring up at the church and learning more about Gaudí and his vision for the church. Unlike many other cities this was our second guided tour of the day with an audio guide and earpiece decide with a microphone to control the voice of the guide so no one could leach onto the tour who didn’t pay.
Once through security there is a bronze sculpture of what the church will like when it is done and I was shocked to learn the basilica will be twice as tall as the current structure upon completion. The four current towers are actually bell towers but there will be additional 12 towers built, each representing an apostle, then four for the prophets, then one, the highest one, for Jesus himself. Oh, and you can’t forget Mary, she will get her own, smaller tower off to the side for 18 in total. and then Mary. The end date of the construction is aimed at 2026 to coincide with the centennial of death of Gaudí. After learning about what it will look like when finished, be we took a look at the current church and the “drippy side” as many call it which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. My favorite part was the bright green doors and I was actually sad to learn that Gaudí’s plan called for the entire facade to be colored but since he did not do it while he was alive they can not add color, only preserve it.
When we stepped inside the Sagrada Família I was a bit sure of what to think and was surprised at the stunning colors and how the afternoon light seemed to fill the entire cavernous space. This started to make more sense when we learned that Gaudi wanted people to be happy when they went into a church and thus veered away from the idea of a traditional dark worship space with candles towards a design the emanated a ton of light with a plethora of colors but not too many decorations.
Now I have to be in honest, at this point in the tour I stopped taking notes and more than once wandered off from the rest of the group because I was just so in awe of this space. Perhaps my favorite part was stained glass windows that on the East side were installed green and blue glass to defuse the very strong morning light and on the West side of the church were outfitted in red, orange, and yellow so as the sun sets the light is elongated. When completed the official capacity will be 8,000 people a truly enormous church which despite seeming quite cavernous is offset by the gorgeous light and intricate designs – I especially loved the ceiling!
On the tour we entered through the Nativity Façade of the Sagrada Familia, explored the interior, and then exited through the The Passion Facade. The difference between the two sides of the church were staggering and it is very clear the influence of the great number of architects who have been tasked with completing this sacred space.
I had an absolutely incredible experience to visit the Sagrada Familia which I had heard about for so many years – I can definitely see why it is number one on the list of things to do in Barcelona!
Have you been to Barcelona?