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I remember standing outside this confectionary of a church that makes Disney's Cinderella's Castle look like a portaloo, and wondering what could possibly ever top it. You will love it or hate it.
I had come on a guided tour of Gaudi work which is possibly the best way to get to see the Sagrada Familia, as then you will be one of the lucky ones who do not have to queue for over an hour to get a ticket. The drawback is that you won't have as much time in here if you want to spend ages studying every nook and cranny.
Stepping inside, my first impression was overwhelming space and height like nothing I have ever seen before, then being caught up in the kaleidoscopic colours showering from the vast stained glass windows. Everything is designed to be bizarre and fantastic. Nothing is allowed to be functional and unadorned: columns can't be just supportive structures; they are transformed into what resemble giant rhubarb stalks. Stadium seating is high up in the rafters like private boxes for the Gods.
What is just as amazing is the fact that this church is entirely funded by public donation.
Although this is Gaudi's inspiration, the majority of the decoration is created by local artists.
Jostling about the crowded floor, I couldn't help but wonder how easy it is to transform from its main function of being a tourist spectacle into a devotional church for the locals. What an honour it would be to be there during an actual service!
As this is a work in progress it won't be completed until approximately 2026 - I'll be coming back then for certain!
La Sagrada Familia has to be the most famous site in Barcelona and is a real must see on any visit to the City.
It is the unfinished masterpiece from the famous architect Antonio Gaudi and although work started on it in 1882 it remains unfinished and in a country where manana manana is an art form it remains to be seen when it will finally be completed to Gaudi's specifications.
The first time you lay eyes on La Sagrada Familia is an awe inspiring moment and although I am not religious I can honestly say it was breathtaking.
You will probably either come to it by way of metro or the open topped buses but either way the first time you glimpse it you will be impressed as it is absolutely immense and coming out of the escalators the first time you will crane your neck trying to see it all.
The entrance takes a little time to find as it is on the other side to where you come up by metro but just follow the crowds and there will be lot's of them as this is a very popular place to visit.
Expect to queue but surprisingly on my visit this didn't take all that long as the site is so large they can let in everyone and it is just more or less a queue to take the entrance fee. The fee to enter is quite steep at 12 Euros just to enter the church and then an extra 4 for an audio guide and the you have to pay again to be able to enter the lifts that take you to the tops of the towers.
The inside of church is quite plain and a little disappointing but the real joy here for me anyway is being able to get up close to the facade which is amazing. There are exhibitions on the time line of work and the expected completion which to be honest keeps changing.
Once you have had a wonder around and taken it all in you can then join the queue to take the lift to the towers.
Although again there is a fee for this and the queue took nearly an hour it is definitely worth it and I would recommend everyone going up to be able to see the stunning work a little closer than you can from the outside.
Once up in the towers there are walkways and the views over Barcelona are absolutely amazing. You get to see the strange brightly coloured fruit which is part of the decoration up close and this is something I enjoyed immensely. This definitely isn't like any other church you have ever seen.
Once you have finished you can then climb the tower back down to the ground. Be warned that the spiral stairway down the tower is very steep and also very long and you will need to be both fit and at least a little bit brave doing it.
Once a the bottom my legs were shaking as it took ages to make it down and because it is so steep I needed to keep my legs tense to stop me from stumbling.
Once back at the bottom you can again sit and stare at the facade a little more before going to look round the little museum which is interesting if a little bland.
Once you have done this there is not a lot more to see or do to be honest. You can leave through the gates and have lunch in a one of the restaurants next to the site and enjoy your lunch whilst staring up at it.
At night La Sagrada Familia is lit up and looks even more beautiful and haunting than it does in the day time and trip here just to have a look at it during it's most beautiful is really something you should try to do at least once during your visit to the city.
La Sagrada Familia is already an amazing place to see and visit and I can only imagine how spectacular it will be when complete and I only hope that I am still alive to be able to see it.
Yes it is a little on the expensive side to visit but the money get's plowed straight back into the building work so in a way you are helping to fund the building of this masterpiece.
The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, mostly referred to as The Sagrada Familia, is a church in Barcelona, which began being built in 1882 and which is still unfinished.
The architect associated with this magnificent building is Antoni Gaudi, who unfortunately died in 1926 and was unable to complete the work himself. However to this day, the church is still being built.
I visited Barcelona earlier this year and was fortunate enough to visit this building. I have to say I wasn't expecting it to be as astonishing as I found it to be. I often find such famous sites to be over-exaggerated and then I am left disappointed when I visit, however this is possibly one of the greatest buildings in the world.
It is hard to describe in words, how ornate and unique this building is. There is so much detail and intricate designs throughout the whole building, from the animal statues to the angels. There are so many different offerings of symbolism and stories displayed throughout the building.
The outer building is quite classical and I stood in awe looking up at the unfinished masterpiece with the tall spires that reach to the sky. I contemplated not entering the building, thinking it would be much the same as the outer, however I am so glad I made the decision to enter.
The inner building is totally different to the outer, modern, clean, and I have never seen anything quite like it. It looks like a totally different world with columns that have bright pods at the top that look almost alien like. I found it very inspiring just looking all around at the architecture, finding it hard to believe that this section was built long ago. It looks like something I would expect to see in the future.
I would recommend anyone who visits Barcelona to see this from the outside at least and if you have the chance, to go inside and see the spectacle for yourself!
Back in May of this year I found myself in Barcelona for a couple of days for a meeting with work. I'd been to Barcelona several times before both with family and through work and it's become one of my favourite cities. It really has something for everyone; culture, shopping, great food, entertainment and nice beaches. On previous visits I'd visited many of the sites and particularly enjoyed visiting the houses designed by the architect Antoni Gaudi. However one major site that eluded me on all previous visits was Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia. Each time I tried to visit I arrived either too late or at an extremely busy time so that I was unable to enter. On this trip I ensured I took an early flight out of London to arrive in Barcelona in good time to try and visit and for me it was third time lucky!
**Who was Antoni Gaudi?**
I must admit that prior to visiting Barcelona for the first time a few years ago I had not heard of Antoni Gaudi. However a friend recommended visiting the Gaudi houses when I was out there on my first visit and I must admit these were the highlight of my trip. For those that don't know who Antoni Gaudi was - he was a 19th century architect who became renowned for his unique and innovative style of buildings. Gaudi drew his inspiration from nature and many aspects of his design have an 'organic' feel, curved and flowing rather than straight and rigid. Another distinction of his style was the use of smashed up colourful ceramics to create mosaics, which decorate his creations.
The Sagrada Familia is a church, located close to the city centre and is easy to get to on the metro system. The nearest station, unsurprisingly, is 'Sagrada Familia', a two-minute walk away. The church is open daily between 9am and 6pm in the winter months (October to March) and 9am and 8pm during the summer. Entrance is 9.50 euros to enter the main church and museum. For an additional 3 euros it is possible to take a lift to the top of the spires, from which you can get some fantastic views over Barcelona. It is also possible to opt for a guided tour and this costs a bit more. I opted to tour the church myself as well as go up the spires. The ticket I received for the spires had the time at which I should go to the lift to go up the spires. I think this was a good idea as it meant I didn't have to spend ages queuing up and instead I could wander freely and just turn up when it was time for me to go up.
As mentioned above, the church is yet unfinished - Gaudi died unexpectedly in 1926 whilst it was being built, being knocked down by a tram, partway through its construction. For the last 80 years or so various sculptors and architects have added their own touches to Gaudi's design. The work has been financed by the 100,000 or so visitors who come by each year and the project is estimated to be completed by 2030. The church is a permanent construction site and from the outside it is possible to see scaffolding near the spires and inside, builders with hard-hats working away.
**The two façades and interior**
As soon as you pass the ticket desk you enter the church's' courtyard. The outside of the church itself has two quite distinct designs. The side of the church closest to the ticket desk is known as the 'Passion façade'. It was started in 1978 and completed in 2002 and was designed by architect Josep Subirachs. The carvings on this façade represent the pain and sacrifice of Jesus. The design is quite distinct and the sculptures that have been carved out of the stone are sharp, angular and almost robotic. There was quite a lot of detail captured and various scenes including the centrepiece, which was the crucification of Christ. As you head towards the door there is a cryptogram that has been carved into the stone. Each of the rows and columns in the cryptogram add up to 33, the age of Christ when he died.
Passing through the main doors leads you into the main body of the church. It is here that Gaudi's love of nature becomes apparent. The interior consists of many pillars leading up to the ceiling but the way they are arranged I thought made them look almost skeletal. In fact they are inspired by redwood trees and together form a kind of 'stone forest'. There were also several highly decorated stained glass windows with pretty orange, green and blue glass with shapes arranged in a distinctive abstract kind of pattern.
Passing through the church leads you to the second façade at the back. This is known as the Nativity façade and was designed by Gaudi himself. The contrast between the two facades could not be greater. Whereas the front was sharp and angular in style the back is fluid and dynamic. Gaudi's inspiration by nature could not be more apparent and almost every inch of this façade is carved out with plants and animals. The two main pillars are supported by giant turtles that have been carved out in the stone. Amidst these carvings of plants and animals there are sculptors that also tell the story of Christ, from the wedding of Mary and Joseph, the birth of Jesus, the visiting three wise men and Jesus at work. This façade also contrasts with the one at the front in that it focuses on the happier aspects of Jesus's life.
The carvings on this façade were so detailed and intricate that I couldn't help but stand and marvel at Gaudi's skill and vision. At the time some of the shapes that Gaudi had designed and carved were pioneering, curves and waves that had never before been attempted. I stood at this façade for a good 10 to 15 minutes looking at the immense detail in the carvings. Each time I looked at a particular area I would spot something new, such was the detail, and I could have stood there for hours gazing up at this work of a genius. The figures that were carved out were more human-like, in contrast to those on the Passion façade. They were amazingly life-like and I couldn't help but smirk at one that bore an uncanny resemblance to Richard Branson! (photo on Ciao) My neck soon began to ache though so I wandered on.
Leading on from this façade is a door to the crypt museum. Gaudi is actually buried here and his tomb is visible from the museum. In the museum there are drawings of Gaudi's original design and also sketches that Josep Subirachs has made of his designs. It is also possible to see into a workshop where plaster models of various parts of the church, both old and those not yet made, can be seen. This I thought was really interesting and showed the immense skill involved in carving such parts.
**A rooftop adventure**
After visiting the museum it was time for me to go up the spires. I arrived at the lift and waited for about a minute before being taken up by a guide, in a small lift along with 3 other visitors. The lift was quite fast and it took us around 30 seconds to reach the top. From here we were able to walk across part of the rooftop, between the spires, and make our way down the spiral staircase. The spires were really pretty, decorated with hundreds of pieces of smashed up ceramics. The views from the top were spectacular and I could see for miles over all of Barcelona. We were very high up though and I wouldn't recommend going up there if you have a fear of heights!
The spiral staircases, which we had to use to come down were really quite steep and narrow. Their helicoidal design reminded me of a snails shell or a strand of DNA - another influence from nature. Looking down from the side, the helix seemed to stretch on forever. If you do intend to go up the spires I would recommend wearing a good pair of shoes as it is a long way down and quite tiring! The space between the two walls of the staircase is very small and there is only enough room for one person to go down and so we were all climbing down in a single file. After a while I found it did start to get quite claustrophobic. I have quite a petite frame and made it down quite comfortably but a couple of people in front of me had a slightly larger frame and did at times find it a bit of a tight squeeze! As the walk is so long and quite tight I would also not recommend taking young children up to the top. I believe it's also possible to climb up to the top rather than take the lift but I think that should only be considered if you're super fit! There are little windows on the way down that you can look out of and see the views outside.
I enjoyed my visit immensely and think it was certainly worth the three-year wait! As I look through my photos I still can't help but be blown away by the sheer detail and skill involved in creating Gaudi's work. I'm sure I shall find myself in Barcelona again at some point and if so I shall certainly be visiting the Sagrada Familia again to see how the work has progressed. If you're heading over to Barcelona this should be at the top of your list of places to visit!
This review has also been posted on Ciao along with some photos.
La Sagrada Familia is a large Roman Catholic Church in Barcelona, Spain. Work commenced on the building in 1882 and 129 years later the church is yet to be finished. Sagrada Familia dominates the sky line and some of the best views of the church can be seen from some of the cities higher vantage points such as arc de Montjuic. It is reported that the church will be completed in 2026 and I can't wait to return to Barca one day to see the finished article.
This spectacular piece of architecture was designed by the Antoni Guadi, who's best architecture also resides in the Barcelona. Gaudi was born in Barcelona in June 1852 and was at the forefront of what is now known as Catalan Modernism. Guadi's work has a big influence on the city, but there is no doubt in my mind that Sagrada Familia is his greatest work.
After seeing this truly breath-taking building it came to no surprise to me that it has been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sagrada Familia was consecrated a minor basilica church by Pope Benedict in November 2010.
The church had these 4 huge spires that seem to stretch endlessly into the sky. These are round at what is known as the Nativity Facade and this side of the building is my favourite. In the middle of the huge spires, my eye was draw to a scene which as the name suggest depicts a nativity seem. Buried in the roof above the scene are these small mosaic like tiles, added some colour and fine detail. The figures which make up the scene are very modern looking, even by today's standard. The amount of detail on the spires, is amazing, they are full of colour and have a completely handmade look to them.
The other parts of the Sagrada Familia are the Passion Facade, which is much simpler in design than the Nativity Facade. There is also the Glory Facade, which was only started in 2002. It is the Glory Facade that will be the main entrance into the central nave and is the largest of the three.
The church is as stunning inside as it is out. The level of detail never failed to amaze me and when I think back to how much of this much have been achieved without the use of modern building techniques and tools it blows me away.
Entry to Sagrada Familia with cost 12.50 euros when I was in Barcelona, March 2011 or 13.50 for an audio guide included. The day I visited the queue was long, but it moved fairly quickly. I think you should be prepared to queue for approximately 30 minutes. It is well worth paying the admission fee as the architecture inside the building is amazing.
According the website, opening hours are 09:00 - 18:00, October to March and 09:00 - 20:00 April to September.
You can get to Sagrada Familia via Barcelona's metro system. I believe there is a stop on both the East and West sides of the building and you want to go on the Blue or Purple lines.
This is a truely spectacular building and no end of superlatives could describe it. It is a must see if you are in Barcelona. I feel in love with the building so much that I went back the next evening to see what it looked like at night. It was even more dramatic looking as it reached into the night sky. I will definitely be returning to see the finished article.
I took an endless amount of snaps of the building and was blown away with the amount of detail that went into the building. It is safe to say it's the first building that I have ever seen and said 'Wow' out loud! As I followed my guide map and turned the corner, I had no idea what I was about to see - spectacular.
Website - http://www.sagradafamilia.cat/sf-eng/
The Sagrada Familia, or to give it it's proper title, Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família is perhaps one of the most iconic buildings in the world and it's easy to see why. It really is a stunning creation which, although not even finished, will amaze you. You can see it on the Barcelona skyline as you drive in from the ouskirts of the city but you really have to see it to appreciate is's size and architecture. It is located just off Avenue Diagonal in the very heart of the city and can be easily reached by bus, taxi, metro or on foot being about a 10-15 minute walk from La Rambla.
As with several buildings in Barcelona, this was designed and constructed by the late Antoni Gaudi who's influence can be seen throughout the city. It's construction was begun in the 1880's and still continues to this day - the evidence of this being the ever present cranes which tower above. It is actually a Roman Catholic church which was consecrated by the Pope and is used by local worshippers for services. Gaudi only ever seen one face of the building completed before his death in 1926 in a tram accident and since then donations from the public and ticket sale profits have been used to continue the building process with a view to completing it by 2026, the centenial of Gaudi's death.
There are 3 main faces to the building. The oldest is devoted to the "nativity" of Christ and depicts scenes of his birth and life. Opposite to this is the "passion" facade which depicts the crucifixion and resurection of Christ and the third facade is "glory" which shows the ascention to heaven or hell. Gaudi's love of nature can be seen throughout with numerous references from cypress trees to animals throughout. Although I am not a religious person I could still appreciate the symbolism and significance of the sculptures and stonework and they are so intricate and detailed. Atop the Sagrada Familia currently stand 8 huge towers which represent 8 of the 12 Apostles. Plans are to add a further 4 towers for all the Apostles and a larger tower representing the Virgin Mary and an even larger tower to represent Christ. The towers are heavily detailed and are peaked with colourful symbolisms and words.
Entrance to the Sagrada Familia costs 12.50 euro per person and this allows you to get into the main part of the church and to ascend one of the towers to take in views over the city. Annoyingly, the day I visited there the towers were closed so I never managed to get into the place however I'm sure the insdes of the church are just as elaborate as the outside.
Any visit to Barcelona would not be complete without seeing this masterpiece as it really is one of the most beautiful buildings I've ever seen. Even those who have no religious beliefs will marvel at how impressive the Sagrada Familia is and it will be one of the highlights of your visit.
The city of Barcelona normally conjures a number of images in the minds of most tourists. The Nou Camp, Las Ramblas but perhaps the most recognisible is a building site. On this building site arises one of the most complex and challenging architectural desings put forward in moderns times. The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia translated as The Expiatory Church of the Holy Family.
Designed by Antoni Gaudi in 1883 at the behest of the Roman Catholic Church. To this day it is still uncomplete, giving further weight to the arguement that the best works are often unfinished. Indeed Gaudi himself once remarked upon the slow progress that was being made '...my client is not in a hurry.' In 1926 Gaudi died and was buried in the midst of Sgrada Familia. Since then construction has continued to this day under the watchful eye of architects such as Isidre Puig Boada, Francesc Cardoner,Francesc Quintana and Lluis Bonet I Gari. At present Jordi Bonet I Armengol with the use of compter aided design continues the construction which has been a cause for disagreement. Some believe that this has in some way detracted from the intent and beauty of Gaudi's design. The CAD software allows the sculptures to be carved perfectly, whereas previously it had been hand carved. It is fair to say you can see the difference between the pieces.
The church will have three grand facades upon completion depicting the Nativity, the Passion and the Glory. The interior of the church takes the from of a latin cross. The whole church is decorated in the words from the liturgy such as Hosanna, Excelsis and Sanctis.
It will be consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI on November 7th this year and a deadline of 2026 for completion. Visitors can access the Nave, Crypt, Museum, Shop and also the Pssion and Nativity Towers. An entry fee of 10 Euros is payable. Adults can make the long journey to the top of the towers by lift, walk the remainder to the top and cross the bridge descending the opposite tower in the same manner for a further 2.50 euros. If you think this is a tad expensive, then consider that it is through this, the church is being funded so it is certainly a worthy cause.
Journeying to the site is easy enough, it has it's own metro station called Sagrada Familia, served by L2 and L5 lines. Although you may want to choose your time carefully, in 2004 2.26 million people visited, making it one of Spain's top tourist attractions. In short it's easy to get to, and one of those things to see. Oh and one other thing, make sure the memory card on your camera is empty, you'll need it.
I've been lucky enough to visit Barcelona twice now, and on each trip a visit to Sagrada Familia, a Catholic Basilica that has being built since 1882 has been a memorable and essential part of my holiday.
Most tourists will get their first glimpse of the famous spires of the church as they emerge from the Metro station which bears its name, and is the easiest way of getting to the site. Quite rightly this destination will feature on most people's "must see" list. It's 100 year (and counting) construction has been privately funded, and these days visitors' entrance fees go towards the costs, with the nave due to be completed sometime in 2010, and the remaining facade and spires expected to be finished sometime towards 2030.
The gates open at 9am, and I would advise getting there early if you can, we arrived not long after opening and were able to walk in, by mid-morning the queues were quite long and no doubt the whole site was more crowded than when we visited, as it was during our walkaround we did have to dodge a fair few umbrella wielding guides and the Church was fairly busy.
At the time of my visit in 2009 the entrance was 11 euros, rather more than even the most recent guide book had suggested, there is some discount available if you have a Barcelona card (9%), but you will need to pay in cash rather than card, though children up to 10 are free. With the exchange rate at a rather depressing 1 euro = roughly £1 currently this is not a cheap visit for British tourists, who will need a further 2.50 euros with them if they want to go up the towers by lift, however in my opinion it is still worthwhile, and besides you do feel like you are contributing to something amazing. The Church is one of the most popular places to visit in Barcelona and indeed in Spain.
The Sagrada Familia is known for its association with Gaudi, the modernist Architect, who designed much of the Church, his work being carried on after his death; famously he was run over by a tram in 1926. His designs and models in plaster, which he used in preference to paper to visualise the form the church would take, were smashed during the civil war when his workshop in the church was attacked, but some survived and have been restored. The parts of the Church he completed can be seen in all their glory today, and the ongoing work is part of the appeal of a visit, you can see the expert tradesmen working on pieces of the nave, and on our visit a workman dangled Spiderman-like from one of the spires, whilst a whole team of Policemen stopped the traffic on the C/Sardenya (main entrance) to usher in a lorry transporting vast steel pieces, all part of the interest of a real working site.
The Church is accessible to all, we were able to take in a buggy, and there are ramps for wheelchairs as well as disabled toilets within the site. You won't be able to visit all of the towers unless you can climb down the rather scary spiral stairs, even though access is by lift, for the aforementioned fee. I did manage to go all the way down safely whilst holding a rather heavy 3 year old, so I couldn't tell you how many steps down there were, it seemed quite a lot. Glimpsing the spires and ongoing work through the open windows on the way down was really interesting if quite vertigo inducing.
As we visited the Church, having looked at the Passion facade (completed in 1978 by Josep Subirachs and representative of its time), we went into the main nave and were able to see the columns and roof in near completion, on the scale of an over 100 year build. I couldn't see that much had changed since my previous visit some 7 years ago, however apparently the work is nearly done.
Eschewing the 1 and a half hour plus queues for the lift at the main tower we went to the back of the Church - as it turned out this was a good move as we were able to walk onto the lift at the C/Marina side with no waiting at all. If you visit I would advise doing this as the towers are just as tall and in fact you will get a better view of the main towers in my opinion, besides I have never been one for needless waiting.
The Nativity Facade at the back of the Church which was completed by Gaudi is a fascinating sight, you can spend a long time looking at the various scenes that tell the story of the birth of Christ via statues in relief around the doors. There are the cows and sheep that you would expect in the story to play homage to the new baby but also some more eclectic animals as imagined by Gaudi. Also of interest are the exhibitions in the Crypt which tell you much about the history of the build and about Gaudi and the other architects and artists who have played their part in the construction of the Sagrada Familia over the years. I found an exhibition in a side room which explained how Gaudi was influenced by Geometric forms and nature to produce the somewhat crazy shapes of the columns was fascinating, everything was well explained in English as well as in Spanish and Catalan. It was also interesting to see the plaster models of the Church and see workmen restoring pieces and producing new models for yet to be constructed parts of the Church.
You can expect to spend at least an hour or two wandering around the site and gazing from the towers before returning to the streets outside the Church, you can of course see the outside from the street through the gates, and via a small souvenir shop, but in my opinion if you have made the trip to Barcelona it is definitely worth going inside. Sagrada Familia is a strange and interesting construction that reminds me of the sand towers I used to make on the beach by dribbling wet sand when I was a child - parts of it are beautiful, some bits are, depending on your taste, ugly or inspired. In any case a visit here is memorable and I hope one day to go back for a third time, whether it will be completed or not will remain to be seen, for me when it is some of the magic may well be gone along with the incongruous modern scaffolding in the nave. If you do get the chance go and see a potential future Eighth Wonder of the world in the making; it's a visit you will never forget.
More info and pictures:
I have just returned from a lovely holiday on the Costa Dorada, and while staying there I once again returned to visit the really lovely city of Barcelona.
I visited Barcelona last year, and really wanted to visit the Unfinished Church (La Sagrada Familia) but did not have time as we were only there for the day and Barcelona is such a huge city it is impossible to see it all in such a short time. I loved my day in Barcelona but was disappointed not to have seen the chuch during my visit.
So we visited again this year and at last were able to visit the Unfinished Church, which I absolutely loved!
I must admit I do like to visit cathedrals and churches and am also a fan of the work of Antoni Gaudi, the Catalan architect who designed the church and whose work can be seen in many places in Barcelona. In Gaudi's works there are the most diverse construction techniques, and great architectural innovation due to his knowledge of geometry.
Unfortunately, Gaudi was run over by a tram and died in 1926, aged 73 and is buried inside the church. He had spent more than 40 years working on the church, and knew anyway that it would never be completed in his lifetime, but had drawn plans so that the church could continue to be built after his death, which is what has happened and continues to this day.
Four architects have continued to work upon the church and despite some of Gaudi's plans being destroyed in the Civil War, they have been able to continue with reconstructed plans.
On arriving at the church, there were hundreds of visitors both inside and out, walking around and taking photographs. We were facing the facade which is known as 'The Passion' and this is the facade you can see on the photograph here.
There are 3 facades in total : The Passion, The Nativity, and The Glory which is not yet completed.
We decided to walk around the perimeter of the church, taking photographs, and I was amazed by the work and detail which has gone into the two facades you can see. We were given a lot of information from our helpful guide, Teresa.
The Passion facade depicts the the story from the Last Supper and betrayal of Jesus, through to his crucifixion, with four spires rising above which represent four of the apostles.
The Nativity facade is the oldest facade and we learned that this facade is the favourite of many visitors because it was completed before building work was interrupted due to the Civil War in 1936, and it is also the facade which depicts the most Gaudi influence.
I found the detail amazing and very beautiful, and again there are four spires representing another four apostles.
When the Glory facade is completed, it will depict the Resurrection of Christ, and will include another four spires, making twelve in total to represent all the apostles. We were told there will then be a further group of four spires built to represent the four evangelists, and two further spires to represent Mary, mother of Christ, and Jesus Christ himself, making 18 spires in total!
We were told by our guide that various dates have been mentioned for completion of the church, but it is envisaged that the church will be completed by 2026, which will mark 100 years since Gaudi's death. No exact date can be given as the building of the church is funded entirely by charity and from the admission fees to visit the inside of the church.
Also, there are a block of apartments facing the Glory facade which is currently under construction, and our guide explained these have to be knocked down to allow the work to continue, and negotiations are ongoing with people who live in the apartments to agree compensation.
We were shown the crypt, the wall of the apse and facade of the Nativity, which were all parts carried out by Gaudi himself, and the susequent works which have been and are still being carried out by the architects, who were left the task of interpreting the complicated sketches and models which Gaudi left after his death.
The crypt , apse and Nativity begin in a neo gothic style and develop into an ornamental style based on natural and animal forms worked in stone.
What becomes apparent, when we walked from the Nativity facade round to the Passion facade is the differences between the two. Not only in the colour of the stone, which is dark with age on the Nativity facade and lighter on the newer Passion facade, but also differences due to the use of modern techniques and equipment which have been implemented over the years.
It felt to me like it is three buildings combined into one, as it is three very different styles, but somehow it works and fits together, making it probably the most unique building I have ever seen.
There is a small souvenir shop which sells small ornamental replica's of the church, as well as photographs and books, along with the usual bookmarks, fridge magnets, pens etc. I bought a few items and like to think I have contributed a tiny amount to the building of the church!
It really is a beautiful and very striking building, and I would recommend a visit if you are in Barcelona.
Our guide told us that some people have said that the work should be brought to a halt, and the church left as 'Unfinished' as a mark of respect to Gaudi, but most people want to see the church completed. I can see both points of view and I did think when walking around, that maybe it should have been left unfinished, but then the work which has been completed since Gaudi's death is also amazing, and I realised I would like to see what it will look like when it is eventually completed.
I only hope it happens in my lifetime, so I can visit the 'Finished Church'.
I went to Barcelona 2 weeks ago to visit my friend there. As she was working some of the days I went over, I decided to go to La Sagrada Familia as I'd heard it was something which had to be seen.
As I came out of the tube station, I thought "right, so where is this Sagrada?...", I just had to turn my head for it to appear in front of me and I was completely blown away. I had to catch my breath and I'd only made 2 steps...
I took some time to observe it from outside from all 3 facades. Works are still being done so you can't really see the whole of the temple but it didn't matter to me. The details are amazing.
I went inside, the visit was quicker than I expected but I was still amazed at the monument. I enjoyed seeing the workmen measuring and cutting different materials, oblivious to the curious crowd. I was lucky to go outside holiday time so it wasn't too busy.
You can go to the top of the Sagrada, which I did. The only problem is you have to queue again to wait for a lift (2.50 euros) but I only had to wait for 20 minutes. And I can tell you it's one of the best things I've seen in my life. You have a view over Barcelona and can see details of the outside of the Sagrada and get close to it. You then have to walk down some dark and narrow stairs. A bit scary.
After that I headed to the museum which had some really good information on the history of the Sagrada Familia and on Antoni Gaudi, the main architect of it.
I ran out of time to go to the shop but it probably sold some useless gifts at a high price.
You can't go to Barcelona and not visit the Sagrada.
Before Gaudi had a chance to finish the Sagrada Familia, he died in a tram accident. Gaudi was born in the 1840's and as a child was confined to bed by an illness, though it did not take long for his genius to be recognised and one can only imagine that the years that he was bedridden served to help his imagination soar. Later in school, he excelled in some subjects although mathematics was not one of them, which is surprising when you see the way in which he designs, and it is amazing to think that although he was qualified to go to Architectural school, his roots and his imagination played very strongly in the construction of many of his most known buildings, the calculations being made with small bags of sand weighted at different levels to see if the structures would work.
His calculations paid off, and he began to design buildings that were different from the norm, that went away from straight lines into the realms of fantasy, encompassing nature, and the elements of nature, so that the Gaudi buildings go hand in hand with the wildlife that surrounds his buildings, and here I can recount something rather strange.
The facade of the Sagrada Familia, which westerners would class as a cathedral, but which is in fact a church, is a carved monument to nature, with little figures, and animals and birds and when I looked at this area of the cathedral and the facade that Gaudi designed, pidgeons and other birds nestled amonst the naturalness of the landscape that Gaudi had created.
On the other side of the Sagrada Familia is the concept of progress, and although it is thought that Gaudi was responsible for the design of the building which continued after his death, I personally cannot believe that the other side of the cathedral bears much ressemblance to what Gaudi as a man created, because it is cold and mass produced and the figures instead of being human became harsh and even warlike, and do not attract one bird !! It is almost as if the creation of Gaudi has soul, whereas the continuation of the Sagrada Familia does not.
Walking around the Sagrada Familia is impeded by scaffold and the continuation of the works which finance allows, and the Sagrada Familia is an ongoing project although Gaudi himself said that it is a little like an oak tree that takes centuries to grow but grows strong, as opposed to reeds which grow quickly and then die.
In the centre of the hustle and bustle of Barcelona this building is worthy of a visit and to me is a reminder that mankind put progress before the natural splendour of the world. Inside we were shown moulds that make the panels for the new side of the church, mass produced and cold, restrained by lack of Gaudi's imagination, and indeed funding.
The older side of the building is alive and vibrant and very beautiful and is a reminder that architecture can be innovative and take account of its surroundings. You cannot help but be drawn in by the magnificance and beauty of the old side of the Sagrada Familia and it is certainly one of the most important buildings in Barcelona, and even if you are passing through, if you pass without seeing the evolution of this architecture, you have indeed wasted an opportunity to see a very outstanding piece of architectural history.
A taxi from the centre of Barcelona to the Segrada Familia will cost less that ten euros, entrance is relatively cheap at three euros fifty, and you can take the lifts up high into the towers at both the new and old end, and see how these towers were constructed, although here the old wins hands down over the new.
There is a tourist shop with a lot of good quality books on Gaudi as well as the usual tourist tack and there is limited access for handicapped people, although to me, the beauty of the Segrada Familia is external and anyone, even handicapped, can see this from the outside without paying.
This was a wonderful day, although one that made me think about how harsh and cold humanity prefers to be nowadays, although the soul of Gaudi will always be kept alive because of the heritage he left behind him.
Last year as I'm sure a lot of you know I celebrated my 21st birthday with a trip to Barcelona. The trip for me personally wasn't just about the drinking, although that was a large part of it. However I'd spent a lot of time during my 2 years in college studying various different architects and design styles. However there was one amongst them that really stood out and he is probably one of Barcelona's most famous residents. I am of course talking about Antoni Gaudí who captured my interest more than I thought any architect could.
Having designed or had his influence used on a vast majority of the buildings in Barcelona, Guadi was a source of much interest. His most famous work however was the cathedral El Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Expiatory Temple of the Sacred Family). The construction of the giant cathedral is quite possibly one of the longest running construction projects still being undertaken. Work began on the site back in 1883 when Gaudi dedicated his life to seeing his vision take shape.
The project, still running with the main body of the cathedral yet to be finished still has an estimated 40 odd years to go. However unlike Britain, the project is all funded privately rather than through public taxation. I'm sure you all remember that Millennium Dome thingy that a hell of a lot of money was wasted on. Instead, the building site has been transformed into a tourist attraction and as such serves as a means of funding for the remainder of the project.
The main problem is that when work first started Guadi used his instinct rather than structuring a proper plan. He never really drew all his ideas for the cathedral onto one drawing and as such it has become a real fusion of ideas from various different drawings. He died aged 74 after being hit by a car whilst high on opium, leaving this massive project behind. With a 20 year gap in construction while the Spanish Civil war raged it was started again in 1952 and construction has continued since then.
The cathedral is some 60ft high within the main hall with the spires reaching an amazing 95ft up above the main structure. Almost as wide as it is long the two sets of spires at each end act as a focal points. The design looks absolutely fantastic and at the top of each of the spires they have used mosaic patterns to decorate it but also showered small fragments of glass into the decoration. Around the doors are sculptures of animals such as snakes and people to represent events in the bible.
On the whole the architectural design takes on a very gothic feel to it, however as time has passed the building style has changed slightly. You can see clearly where each section has been built during a different period as the shades of stone work, weathering and general appearance of the construction really gives it away.
The chance to wander round the amazing building is one that can't be passed up and although I do have more than a passing interest in architecture it really is an amazing site. Access to the Cathedral can be achieved a number of ways. You can use the tube from many parts of the city, taxi's can be found on every corner near by and all the tourist buses also stop in this area of the city, although that's hardly surprising considering the number of people who want to visit.
Before you actually enter the Cathedral I'd suggest taking a good walk around so you can step back and look up at the high steeples and really get a good feel for the ambience and the style. If you need to have a rest before you enter this great edifice then outside there is a Pizza Hut, McDonalds and Pans along with a number of other café's and bars. Although we didn't actually visit any of the places around the outside they were all packed full, suggesting that they were good quality sites or at least not so bad they turn tourists away.
The cost to get into this fantastic attraction I found to be very reasonable. The basic cost without any discount was Euro8 each (roughly £5) for general admission and Euro11 (£8 roughly) for a guided tour. Basically, what this entails is being given a set of headphones to guide you round. We paid Euro6 using our money off voucher from the Bus Turistic and guided ourselves round using the notated boards spread through out the inner sections of the Cathedral. Of course there is a constant flow of people accessing the site and despite a constant queue at each entrance of 8 or 9 people it filters through quickly not causing any real delay and once inside its still easy enough to move around without feeling too cramped.
One thing I noticed as I wandered round was that all the small wings and the two main ends are finished and in all honesty look fantastic. But it was the rain pouring into the centre of the Cathedral that makes you realise just how much work they have left ahead of them. Of course as with any tourist attraction though after leaving the central area you walk into the entrance where you will find a gift shop. But more interestingly opposite the gift shop is an elevator, which takes you to the top of one of the spires and for just Euro2 it had to be done.
This really is worth it because even though it we went on a really horrible day, with the rain and being very overcast with clouds, the view over the city was fantastic. Despite the poor weather you could still see for miles in each direction and it really was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. We even took the opportunity to scare 2 English guys by telling them the metal plate in the middle of the spire wasn't bolted down and it was a sheer drop. Needless to say they didn't step on it again.
There are two ways back to the ground either by the lift (which we took as we needed to get off elsewhere before it closed) or by walking down, which I plan to do next time I go. By walking you can explore every little part of the tower and at certain points switch between towers and even explore other areas as you get back towards the ground, this makes the Euro2 euros for the lift seem worth it, but then again the feeling of looking over the city did that in itself.
Overall the tour is excellent value for money and the chance to be inside the Cathedral and look out over the city is superb as I?m sure anyone who has been will agree. Cost wise, it is fairly reasonable, possibly a bit steep for what you get but when you consider it is a self funding operation it makes it all worth while as you can see what your money pays for. Most of the Cathedral is wheelchair accessible apart from the spires as once you get to the top of the lifts everywhere you go is either up or down stairs. But I'd certainly recommend a visit as it's one of those things that Barcelona is famous for.
Antoni Gaudí was neither the first nor the last architect to work on the Sagrada Família, but his name will forever be associated with the gargantuan project. In 1926, during the construction of the gigantic church, Gaudí was run over and killed by a number 30 tram. When the ambulance arrived, no one knew who he was. An immensely sad story to kick off this opinion, but the tale of the "Church of the Holy Family" begins when Gaudí was still in his teens. In 1869, a devout Catholic bookseller decided to found a church for working class families. (This explains why it was known as the "Cathedral of the Poor" for a while.) A central plot was to be donated by a rich duchess, but she died unexpectedly, so a site further northeast had to be chosen. The architect Francisco de Paula del Villar offered to draw plans for free, and the first stone was laid in 1882. However, disagreements arose and Gaudí officially took over the next year. Gaudí completed Villar's neogothic crypt but his Expressionist style gradually started to dominate. By the time of La Pedrera's completion, he was completely engrossed in the project, living in the crypt among scale models and plans. Gaudí wanted to theme each part of the church differently, drawing inspiration from his enduring Catholic faith and admiration for Mother Nature. His sudden death left the project in a limbo - construction was put on hold, and a fire destroyed most of the original preparatory photographs and drawings. Works have begun again, but 3 quarters of a century after Gaudí's death, the church remains unfinished, with only 8 of the 12 planned towers (4 above each façade, one for each apostle) in place. The Sagrada Família has its very own Metro station. It's open to visitors year round, from 9 AM to early evening, except on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Admission costs around 500ptas (~£2.00) and is reduced significantly for groups. From af
ar, it could be mistaken for a construction site, with massive cranes poking out behind the 4 tallest completed bell towers. The central tower, dedicated to Christ, is yet to be built, but will measure 170m tall. While you're queuing for entry, admire the west-facing Passion Façade. This was not started until 1952, and the very un-Gaudí-esque hard lines and marked geometric shapes represent the death of Jesus. The crucified Christ hangs over the door, and Bible characters like the thieves and mocking soldiers can be recognised around Him. The columns resemble bones. A curious magic square is inscribed into the stone next to the door. The Nativity Façade is the façade of Hope, deliberately built to face the east and the rising sun. A plethora of religious references can be found here: 3 doors relating to the virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity; baby Jesus with the ox and mule; the Adoration of the Magi. Hundreds of plant and animal species are carved into the stone in amazing detail, reflecting Gaudí's depth of research for the Sagrada Família. He was obsessed with imitating forms of nature, and assistants made hundreds of scale models, drawings and photographs of plants, animals and human bodies. The Glory Façade, when built, will be the main façade, dedicated to the glory of Christ. Inside the church, one finds the Central Nave... and loads of construction workers! The supporting columns are ingeniously designed to reproduce the effect of a forest; the upper sections are split into extraordinarily efficient 'branches' - another example of Gaudí's natural observation. Spiral staircases wind almost all the way up the main bell towers. For a small charge, lifts can take you halfway up! My group took the brave option and trekked up the 350-odd steps to the very top, pausing to take in the glorious panoramic views of Barcelona. ("I can see my house from here!!!" LOL) The journey was tiring but well worth i
t - whenever I see a picture of the Sagrada Família nowadays, I recall enthusiastically that I was right up there in that pointy bit :) As well as containing chapels, the huge underground crypt houses an exhibition, featuring Gaudí's surviving drawings and other interesting artefacts. Magnificent scale models of the catenary arch structures employed by Gaudí are installed, as well as multimedia demonstrations. Other architects who have worked on the church are also profiled. Every part of the Sagrada Família could be considered a project on its own, such is its brilliance on so many levels. Gaudí applied all the structural innovations that he developed and investigated over his lifetime to the building. He would have hated the fact that his building has become a commercial tourist attraction, and not a religious symbol that he devoted his final years to. Perhaps the Sagrada Família is destined to remain unfinished, as the authorities seek to keep its myth alive... Meisterwerk, obra maestra, masterpiece - whatever description you wish to use, experience the Sagrada Família for yourself! Links: www.sagradafamilia.org - the official and flashy site (thankfully completed, unlike its real life counterpart!) NB. This is the 4th instalment of my BS series. For the introduction, please kindly turn to "BS Uno - The Odyssey Begins"; general information on Barcelona is scattered throughout the series. Thanks for reading!
Architect: Antoni Gaudi
Time Period: c. 1882 - 1926
Location: Barcelona, Spain