One of the marks of a great artist is how his or her works are appreciated when he or she is gone. Gaudi is this encapsulated and more. And what striked me most about visiting the Sagrada Família is how old and new are combined into something miraculous, something that transcends the initial conception. Something that lives on, grows and transforms even after death.
A visit to the Sagrada Família (the most popular of Spain’s attractions) starts with a tour of the external cathedral. Here you’ll learn about the history of the facade and the reliefs and how this has changed throughout the years. In fact, the Sagrada was not Gaudi’s initial idea. The construction of the cathedral began in 1883 by architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano in response to revolutionary changes occuring in the city at the time. It was intended as a Neo-Gothic church. However, when Gaudi took over the project the design changed fundamentally. He spend 40 years of his life dedicated to the project.
If you’re religious then this is a sight in Barcelona that you don’t want to miss…it’s very moving to see all the little intricate sculptures carefully placed on the exterior facade. This detail really draws you in and you soon realise the story behind the magnificent structure.
And you’ll also quickly identify parts of the facade that are more modern with those that are older, purely by the colour of the stone. I must say that this is quite an interesting and highly appealing mix.
Next, I explored the inside of the cathedral of which certain parts are illuminated in colourful lights for emphasis. This is a really modern way of drawing attention to certain architectural features of the cathedral. For a split second it felt as though I was inside some kind of spiritual UFO ready for take-off!
And the idea behind the interior is that there should be no straight lines or harsh angles anywhere. This should be a design drawn from the flowing curves of nature. In fact, even the pillars look as though they are the stems of flowers in bloom – flowers with petals opening towards the ceiling – as you can imagine the design is ripe with Biblical allegories and metaphors.
There are also a couple of interleading rooms inside the cathedral which tell Gaudi’s story and the history behind this wonder of the world. Here you’ll get to see all kinds of architectural models and sketches.
And believe it or not, this photo below shows a 3D model of the cathedral. Little bit odd but pretty fascinating nonetheless.
There’s an option to visit one of the towers by elevator. Do it. The view from the top is unbelievable and well worth it.
Plus it’s a good opportunity for some scenic selfies too!
You also get to see some really special decor elements at the top – like these little white doves beautifully placed on the balcony. It’s a very moving experience indeed.
Sadly, some people have graffitied parts of the tower. I hope they curb this kind of thing soon.
All-in-all, Gaudi’s Sagrada Família is a must-see if you’re visiting Barcelona. This is a Roman Catholic cathedral unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It’s an eclectic mix of religious styles telling a unique story. Bear in mind that the Sagrada Familia is not complete and completion is expected in 2041, so until then you have plenty of time to visit and see it in a stage of development – one that it’s been in for quite a number of years.