Barcelona: La Sagrada Familia

I still have more posts about places to visit in Mexico, but for now anyway I’m switching it up a bit!

When I found out I was going to Barcelona over spring break, I started doing some research and quickly decided Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia was at the top of my list in terms of places I wanted to visit. Arguably the most popular, well-known site in Barcelona, construction on la Sagrada Familia began in 1882, it was consecrated as a Basilica in 2010, and it’s still undergoing construction today (although it only recently got a building permit after 137 years of construction!). Luckily for visitors, the interior is finished, and the cranes at work on the exterior towers don’t detract from the experience of taking in the interior.

If you want to visit la Sagrada Familia during your time in Barcelona, make sure you buy your ticket in advance and show up within your appointed fifteen minute window as it’s very popular. I’d recommend going earlier in the day if you can. We got there at 9 am, stayed about an hour and a half, and by 10:30 it was very noticeably fuller than when we got there.

Visitors enter by the Nativity Facade, pictured above. It’s the only facade Gaudí saw completed in his lifetime. When you get there, take advantage of the free audio tour. It’s offered in a wide variety of languages and offers some interesting insights on all the many details in the building.

This facade is very intricate and detailed. While the whole church is full of details and things to look at, this facade is unique, so take your time before heading inside.

Gaudí wanted the structure to have the feeling of being in a forest, so the interior columns are reminiscent of trees. I don’t know if I felt like I was in a forest, but there was certainly lots to take in!

Note the symbols for the four evangelists

I see the trees more at the tops of the columns like in this photo–the tops do look like branches. Still, the light inside the basilica is what caught my attention more.

Mary and Jesus stand over each entrance with Jesus at the center. It’s beautiful.

The longer we were there the more I noticed the colored light streaming in through the stained glass on the side aisles. I found it interesting that despite all the relief work and sculptures on the exterior, the stained glass is simply a compilation of colors, not an image. The only images inside are of Mary, Jesus, Joseph, and the four evangelists.

Once you’ve had a chance to look around inside, you can make your way out the opposite door of where you came in to find the Passion Facade. It’s quite different stylistically than the Nativity Facade! This one is much simpler but still portrays the various events leading up to the crucifixion.

Detail from the doors underneath the Passion Facade

I though it was interesting that all writing in the basilica is in Catalán–I saw a lot of signage in Catalán while in Barcelona but heard Spanish much more. As a Spanish-speaker, I could read Catalán, but Spanish and often English are almost always included as well on signs.

Visitors can go up in the towers (those that are completed, anyway), but it’s an extra fee and isn’t included in the basic ticket, so we didn’t do that. It would have been really cool though!

Have you ever been to la Sagrada Familia? What did you think? Stay tuned for more Barcelona posts soon! 🙂

12 thoughts on “Barcelona: La Sagrada Familia

  1. I was there last over 15 years ago and I am just so amazed at how beautiful it is. Contemporary, though somehow it’s still in Gaudís style.


  2. Sagrada Familia really is amazing isn’t it? The design is contemporary and complex, it really is a work of art, Gaudi was so talented, sad he didn’t get to see his vision completed. I didn’t get to go up the towers either, maybe next time!


  3. Such a beautiful facade and interiors! I´ve been many times and still enjoy every visit, great tip about visiting earlier – it´s always so crowded! #FeetDoTravel


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