Welcome to Barcelona!
BCN has a lot to offer, but I thought we should just jump right in and get things going with the Big Kahuna; La Sagrada Familia.
While we’ve been in Europe, Brad and I have seen a lot of Cathedrals. A. LOT. We love seeing their beauty and learning their history.. but they are starting to get a little repetitive. This one… is different.
La Sagrada Familia is the big landmark of Barcelona and it looks like no other cathedral you have ever seen. It still has the basic structure of a cathedral with the nave, the cross shaped hallway, and the arching ceiling, but those structural elements have been disguised in a fascinating and beautiful way.
Designed by the legendary Antoni Gaudi, the Sagrada Familia is supposed to be less of a religious experience and more of an experience with nature and light. And man, is that spot on. Standing on the outside of the cathedral that literally means “Holy Family,” you don’t even know where to look. Every crevice is different and more detailed than the previous. There are countless stories from the Bible worked into the facades and you could stand there all day and never see everything.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating things about the Sagrada Familia is that although it was started in 1882… it’s not finished! We didn’t actually know that before going there. And I mean… it’s not even close to being finished. It has taken them this long to get about 5/8 of the way done and they have so much more to go! The inside is stunning and is mostly completed, but they have so much to add to the exterior. Gaudi designed the building and mocked up sketches and scale models of the design, but after some designs were lost or destroyed, and then Gaudi’s eventual death…they are still trying to make sure they know how to make it exactly to Gaudi’s specifications. The expected completion date is 2026, to commemorate 100 years since Gaudi’s death, but I’ve got to be honest with you… I don’t see that happening. Check out this model pictured below… the white is what is YET TO BE built.
When you walk in you are wrapped up in warm light and left standing with your jaw on the floor. You can’t help but to follow the large tree trunks up and be left staring at a the canopy of leaves at the top. All the branches and elements of nature that surround you make you forget it was ever cathedral-based.
There are two walls of windows that are on opposite sides of the nave. The wall of windows on one side is all tinted with warm colors and the other side has all cool colors, mimicking the rising and the setting of the sun. The colors in the entire building were so playful and inviting and made you feel safe and happy.
Gaudi noted that most Cathedrals were dark and stoic and too serious for his liking. You felt as if you had to be devout in that religion to enjoy the building. He wanted La Sagrada Familia to be open and welcoming to anyone no matter what their belief system. Of course, this is a Christian place of worship, but it is more about finding something to believe in and coming to this place to believe. He wanted you to feel connected to nature, the Earth, and perhaps some higher power when you entered. It wasn’t about keeping people of a certain religion inside, it was about welcoming any and all people to have a shared experience. What an amazing lesson we can take from Gaudi.
The interior of La Sagrada Familia really does feel like a playground for the senses. Spiral staircases, colorful windows and walls and columns, along with the forest-like nave leave you staring in wonder. It’s a must see if in Barcelona. The sticker price is high, but it is so worth it.
We have already talked about coming back in “ten” years when it’s finished and marveling in Gaudi’s completed vision. I’m not holding my breath for the grand reopening though 😉 😉