Yes - you have probably seen pictures of it or have heard about the Cathedral that Antoni Gaudi was commissioned to build. You may have read about it in Dan Brown's book "Origins". You may even have heard that it may never be finished...started in 1882 even though the architect - Gaudi died almost 100 years ago. You may have done all of these things but until you EXPERIENCE the Sagrada Familia - you don't have any idea of the genius behind and in the creation of this magnificent, devotional. inspirational, multi-sensory testament to God, the Holy Family and to Christ. I have been to numerous Cathedrals, Churches and Shrines across the world but I have never experienced anything like the Sagrada Familia.
To begin - get a ticket - you can do this online - with entry date and time. It is the most visited site in Barcelona and possibly all of Spain. It is busy. We were lucky to enter early so although we didn't have the basilica to ourselves...we also weren't standing in line waiting to enter.
There is a free audio tour that you may take. Do it. It tells about different elements and spaces of the cathedral and that coupled with placards that further explain the sites will take you through on this magical adventure.
There are a couple of things I want to say......first....no words can describe the majesty of this edifice and second - no pictures can capture the confluence and harmony of structure, materials, beauty, light and magnitude of the Sagrada. So what I present here is a feeble attempt at conveying how I perceived my time in the Cathedral. It is music to the eyes and heart.
Entering the cathedral you walk through a side area that will later be closed when the new entrances are finished. The goal is to have the structure completed in 2026...the 100th anniversary of the death of Antoni Gaudi - the amazing and quixotic genius of this masterpiece. Since his death there have been a number of sculptures, architects and builders that have continued to interpret and realize his vision.
Gaudi lead a fascinating life....single throughout.. it ended tragically when he was hit by tram in Barcelona. Believed to be a vagrant because of his poor clothing and lack of identification he was left in the streets for a period of time before being recognized and taken to a local hospital. He later died of those injuries.
As an architect his creations evolved to incorporate the forms of nature (creation) into beautiful and functional structures - architectural sculptures. The Sagrada being his most ambitious and largest undertaking. But Gaudi's work can be seen around Barcelona and other cities in Spain in lampposts, mosaics, newsstands, homes, apartments complexes, parks and schools. Utilizing new materials, geometric patterns of nature and an inquisitive imagination and willingness to experiment with engineering techniques he created fabulous and timeless art in his works.
Nothing seemed to be left to chance. As you walk through the Sagrada you see and learn why the stained glass on one side is more blue - the birth of Christ - and the stained glass on the other side of the cathedral in orange/red....the passion of Christ. The walkways awash with colors. The ceiling - a canopy of trees. The "trunks" using different materials hence different colors that remind you of the infinite variety of nature. The alter with Christ on the Cross appeared to be flying or floating towards man with his eyes toward heaven depicting the suffering of the crucifixion surrounded by 50 luminous lamps, grapes and grape vines depicting ever lasting life. Everything happening at once coming together in harmony. Very different from the darkness of so many other cathedrals. Faith transcending.
As you leave the basilica you can visit areas that house additional pieces including the school that was also designed by Gaudi, Historical artifacts from the basilica and a museum that shows the process of the construction of the cathedral are open to the public. The alter piece shown below was one of his works. Nothing is left to chance, elaborate decorations abound and there is art or purpose behind everything. For example in the school pictures you will see the ceiling. Although using straight timbers for the beams you can see the undulations that look like the opposing sides of an oyster shell - resembling the one shown below which holds the holy water inside the cathedral. Recognizing and incorporating nature into worship and designing a simple ceiling that becomes a work of art.
Finally - the exiting facade is another amazing example of the genius and devotion of this cathedral. There are a number of sculptures in the facade that tell the story of the crucifixion. The agony of Christ ....the contemplation of Pontius Pilate....the gambling by the Roman soldiers for Christ's Robe....the cross ......and finally.....high atop the building you see a gold Christ....having ascended to Heaven but looking down as if you say here I am.....come to me.
The mind of a great man, his imagination and vision in a devotion to the greatness of God through the creation of nature and the sacrifice of Christ for eternal life manifested in Sagrada Familia.....home of the Sacred Family. This cathedral a masterpiece to be experienced. It is music to the eyes and heart.
BK Travel Tips
To enjoy travel and see the world and often yourself as if for the first time and with with the eyes of a young child.