The Saturday morning we spent in Barcelona was reserved for our visit to La Sagrada Familia. If you were able to sit through the marathon post about Barcelona, you will recall that I mentioned our visit to La Sagrada Familia was truly spectacular and warranted its own post. We took about 200 photos of it alone (which is going to make for some serious scrapbook work ahead of me).
Though still under active construction (as it’s been since 1882), there were many options offered when it came to visiting. There was a door fee just to get in, but there was also an optional audio tour in the language of our choice as well as tickets that could be purchased to go up in the lift to one of the spires. We’d read up on various reviews and tips to keep in mind when visiting, so we sprung for all three, which turned out to be the smartest thing we could have done. The audio tour provided so much insight into what we were seeing and it was certainly not the type of info that we could have picked up on our own. If anyone ever has a chance to go, get the audio tour. It really does enhance the experience. Even the lift to one of the spires (towers) was impressive. At first, I didn’t think it would be worth it (we’d had an incredible view of the city the day before at the other cathedral) but because architect Antoni Gaudí (a native of Catalonia) designed La Sagrada Familia with so many symbolic intricacies, it was well worth it to see the architecture a bit closer and in greater detail that from street level.
There are three grand façades, each with symbolism in their direction in which it faces. We entered on the Western-facing Passion Façade, which was designed to look “bare bones” in comparison to the Nativity Façade on the eastern face.
We entered through the Passion Façade, and it was here that we learned about Gaudí's thoughts on light and his inspiration for the “nave.” He was attempting to create the look of a huge forest and the stained-glass windows let in just the right amount of light (throughout all times of the day) to create this effect. I can’t actually put it into words, as it was really majestic. It was very obvious that Gaudí was inspired by nature. Even the columns were made to look like tall trees, with scars and knots carved into them.
Following the Passion Façade, we walked around to the Glory Façade, which is on the southern face. This will eventually be the main entrance, but it is also the façade that has the most work to still be completed. The Glory Façade will be the grandest of the three, and represents “one’s ascension to God” (thanks, Wikipedia) and the Glory Façade will also depict the Seven Deadly Sins and the Seven Heavenly Virtues and other scenes as well.
It was at this point that we had the most direct view of the altar and also learned about Gaudí's take on sound. La Sagrada Familia was designed with acoustics such that the choirs and music would sound amazing and the choir area can seat about 1000 bodies or something like that.
From the Glory Façade, we moved out to view the Nativity Façade, which is completely intricate and detailed. Depicting the birth of Jesus. it was such details as a cypress tree to symbolize the Tree of Life, with doves in its branches symbolizing the followings of Jesus (I think that’s what they said?)
After the Nativity Façade, we got in line to go up to the spire. There were two different lifts (elevators) we could have taken, one on the Passion side and one of the Nativity side, and since we had just finished learning about the Nativity Façade, that was the one we chose. The view was incredible and it was very interesting to see the details of the spires up close.
After walking down the spiral staircase back to ground level (I think that’s a thing in Spain…mechanized transport up, and stairs down…at the subway, they provided a lot of escalators going up, but stairs by which to get down) we finished up our audio tour and peeked in the Gaudí “museum” which is a smaller room detailing bits of his life that later served him as an architect. We followed that up with a pass through the La Sagrada Familia museum, which shows more about the construction, and also gives a peek into the workshop they use. We finished our tour by stopping through a small building off to the side of the Passion Façade that was setup to be a school for children of the Church.
La Sagrada Familia is truly impressive. We were so enamored with it, that we opted to go back that evening and see how it looked at night. Even against a dark night sky, the gold nighttime hues of La Sagrada Familia were pretty incredible.
But enough about the written tour. Let’s get to the good stuff. I tried so very hard to pare down the photos we took, but it was so hard! Enjoy the gallery nonetheless and pardon some of the evening photos. Nighttime photography is hard!
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And, in case you missed me saying so earlier, if you ever visit Barcelona, make this a must-see during your visit!