I feel like I could have spent my entire month in Barcelona visiting Gaudí houses, monuments, buildings, statues and parks – they are literally everywhere in the city. While they’re all beautifully bizarre and different from one another, it gets expensive to visit them all and there is only so many times you can hear the history of Gaudí’s life and design. That being said, I knew I wanted to see the Sagrada Família and wow, I definitely saved the most impressive for last.
The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (I no longer question why people shorten the name) is a monstrous Catholic church designed and partially built by Gaudí. He became involved with the church in 1883, one year after construction began. By the time he died in 1926, he had all but devoted himself to the Sagrada Família. At the time of his death, only about a quarter of the church was completed. And to date, it’s still being built; using Gaudí’s original designs to as closely match his vision as possible.
Supposedly, the church will be finished in 2026, on the 100th anniversary of Gaudí’s death. Although I also heard that it will be finished in 2052, Gaduí’s 200th birthday. Rumors abound that it’s all just a marketing scheme to get people to come back: “Oh, you have to visit again on your next trip to Barcelona to see what’s been added and how it’s changed with the new construction!”
Despite the construction cranes, scaffolding and tarps, the Sagrada Família is absolutely remarkable!
I was told it was worth it to do the audio tour and I’m so glad I listened (pun intended). I actually had some issues finding where you pick up your audio device (100% user error – I was too busy looking up and completely walked by the stand at the beginning) but I liked it better that way. I ended up walking through the entire church admiring the gorgeous architecture and sun streaming through the stained glass so when I walked through again, listening to the audio tour, I was able to focus on the details they were describing rather than the massive, overall church.
The tour starts at the Nativity façade, which was built by Gaudí and combines both Gothic and Art Nouveau styles:
As soon as I walked inside, I was blown away by the sheer size as well as all of the colorful sunbeams streaming in. Gaudí strategically placed stained glass to capture the sun rising and sun setting, casting oranges, yellows, blues, greens and pinks throughout the church.
The East panel of stained glass has warmer hues for the sun rise…
…and the West panel has cooler hues as the sun sets.
One thing I completely missed my first time around, pre-audio-tour, is that as you look up, the you feel as though you’re in the forest, seeing the sun peak through the leaves of the treetops.
The Passion façade, on the opposite entrance to the Nativity façade, is very noticeably un-Gaudí-esque.
Although different than all of his other works, this façade was still constructed based on Gaudí’s original design; the harsh lines were designed to portray the sins of man and strike fear into the onlooker.
On my walk home, I did a lap around the Sagrada Família to see it how it changes from the different angles:
Thank you, Antoni Gaudí, for your wonderfully weird architecture.