Over the 5 months that we’ve been travelling so far, myself and Ross have seen countless cathedrals and churches. We’ve walked round them, been inside them, and been under them (yay for crypts!). We’ve seen some extraordinary buildings, which inspire awe and faith, but the Sagrada Família in Baracelona, Catalonia, took our breaths away.
We were joined in Barcelona by our wonderful friend Zoe (check out her travel/lifestyle blog here) and it was wonderful to experience the beauty of the Sagrada Família with her. We were told by another friend that you should book tickets way in advance as they get bought up quickly, so we ordered them online a month before we visited. You can choose a date and time slot on the website, and though tickets are pricey, it is 100% worth it (and we rarely spend over €10 each on an attraction). The audioguides were brilliant as you got way more information than was on the information panels so if you want to really understand the place, get an audioguide!
The Sagrada Família is not a cathedral, but you could be forgiven for thinking it is. It towers over its section of the city and is HUGE. Instread, it is classed as a basilica and Roman Catholic church, having been consecrated in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI. And they haven’t actually finished constructing it yet! Construction started in 1882 and they plan to have finished the work by 2026. The architect who designed and oversaw the first part of the building was the famous Catalonian Antoni Gaudí, who sadly died in 1926, having been hit by a tram aged 73. You can find many of his other gorgeous and revolutionary designs throughout Barcelona, though the Sagrada Família,in my opinion, tops them all.
Even with the scaffolding surrounding parts of the exterior and the sections blocked off inside which are yet to be completed, the Sagrada Família is still magnificent and so unlike other religious buildings. I recommend a walk around the outside of the building before going inside with your ticket. Its nice to just have time to take in all the details before you go inside. There are three facades: the nativity facade which depicts the birth of Christ, the passion facade which shows the events surrounding the death of Christ and the facade of bliss, which is not yet finished. The two facades that you can see though have so much detail – the more you look, the more tiny additions you can spot.
Unfortunately when we went, it was chucking it down with rain, so the part of the audioguides tour that was outside wasn’t as fun as if it had been sunny. We braved it anyway, but were glad to get indoors! When you enter the church, it’s the soft light that hits you first and fills you with a sense of calm. The stained glass windows were designed so that blues and greens fill the space during the morning and the day, and then as the sun sets and moves to the opposite side of the church, the interior glows purples, reds and oranges.
The columns that hold up the structure are shaped like gigantic trees – branching and reaching up into the towers they support. It gives the effect of walking through an ancient enchanted forest of giants. Gaudí took his immense faith in his God and translated it into architecture, it is truly inspiring. I’m afraid that my words and photos cannot do the place justice so I just have to tell you to go and see it for yourself. Right now. Or like, soon. You won’t regret it.
We bought the tickets that included the tour of the towers but, as I mentioned before, it was raining and we were told that when it is wet and/or windy then they don’t allow visitors up them for health and safety reasons. Apparently on these days, then you are automatically refunded the extra money within 15 days of your visit. It was a shame about the weather, and if you manage to get up the towers then let me know what they’re like!
Underneath the church is a museum, which is dedicated to the architectural, design and construction work for the Sagrada Família and it is really interesting in itself. I saw some people leaving after seeing the church, but they definitely missed out by not looking at the exhibition! Whether you like history, architecture, art, engineering, maths, or just want to know a bit more about Gaudí himself, you can find it all here.
I loved that we managed to see the site before it was finished and I know we will be going back to see the completed church in the future! The bliss facade, which is completely hidden at the moment, is supposed to be even bigger than the other two, and I’m excited to see what will be included on it. Let me know what you think of the Sagrada Família if you’ve been or if you do go!