Exploring Barcelona Part 2: La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia, the sacred cathedral, is the most popular attraction of Barcelona that nearly 3,000,000 visitors travel every year to the city to witness this exquisite view of this dignified temple. What makes this building so special is its unique style where art, religion, and beauty meet together and produces a breathtaking view visible from any point of the city.

La Sagrada Familia has a long construction history and is still not yet finished. The first stone is laid on March 19, 1882, around 135 years ago. The temple is planned to be finished in 2026, there are a couple of years more to go for the final opening. The architect of this ambitious project is no one else than Antoni Gaudi whose view of art is “Truth”, “Structure” and “Beauty”.

The construction of La Sagrada Familia started before Gaudi assigned as the head architect. Initially, the cathedral was planned to be in neo-gothic style by architect Francisco de Paula del Villar who resigned in 1882. Gaudi took over the project in 1884 and completely redesigned the structure in Catalan Modernist style. He devoted his last 40 years for La Sagrada Familia and lived under the temple for 20 years.

Gaudi died when only main crypt and one of the three planned facades was finished (nativity). He left many sketches and plaster models of the church which helped the new generations took over his project. Thanks to the technology, it is now possible to derive 3D mathematical models and abstract shapes by using computers. Gaudi lived before the advanced technology era and he relied only on his imagination while designing the abstract shapes and forms. He was very much inspired by nature when formulating the shapes.  

Overview of La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia is planned to be in the maximum height as 172.5 meters, it is slightly less high than Mountain Montjuic, the highest hill that could be seen from the horizon of Barcelona. Gaudi had a specific reason while planning the temple’s height this way, he believes that humankind should not attempt to surpass God’s work.

What makes La Sagrada Familia impressive is the story behind it. The towers are dedicated to holy saints who had an important role in history and the facades depict important scenes from rising of Christianity and Jesus.

Taste'n Travel: La Sagrada Familia
Taste’n Travel: La Sagrada Familia

Towers: There are 18 towers in total on the plan of La Sagrada Familia. The highest of it will be constructed to the center and it will be dedicated to Christ. The second tallest tower next to the main tower is dedicated to the Mother of God. The surrounding towers each will be dedicated to one if the four evangelists. The towers on the facades (four on each of three) are dedicated apostles of Jesus which are crowned with elegant pinnacles as a representation of bishop’s miter.

La Sagrada Familia has three facades which are called Nativity, Passion and Glory, each of them is dedicated to bible, lethargy, and nature. Currently, the Nativity facade is complete, and Passion is almost complete and the Glory face is planned to be constructed. When it is complete, the Glory facade will be the main entrance of the basilica.

Facades of La Sagrada Familia

Nativity facade: Nativity faces the east side of the campus and designed in modernist style. There are depictions about the birth of Jesus as the way it is described in the bible. They are on three portals named as Faith, Hope, and Charity.

Taste'n Travel: Nativity Facade
Taste’n Travel: Nativity Facade of La Sagrada Familia

Charity is the port on the center and there is a cypress tree representing the symbol of eternity. Faith is the portal on the left and there are depictions of the life of Christ. Hope is the portal on the right where there are depictions of Jesus when he was a child and hope of Israel.

Passion Facade: On Passion, there are depictions of death, burial, and ascension of Jesus. The facade is a combination of modern style with Gothic architecture. On this facade, there is also a magic square where all number add up to 33 which is a holy number for the Christian community. Passion facade was constructed after Gaudi’s death, however, he already had detailed models of the design of Nativity facade. Click here for Gaudi’s original drawing of the Passion facade. 

La Sagrada Familia: Passion Facade
La Sagrada Familia: Passion Facade of La Sagrada Familia

Interior of La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia has a stunning interior design which makes me feel pleased just by witnessing such a beauty. It is not only about the design of its shape but also the many-colored lights that come from outside. I think it adds another dimension to the view. Here is unquestionably the best and the most colorful basilica that I have visited so far.

La Sagrada Familia has a gothic style apse which is surrounded by seven chapels. The lights enter through stained glass windows which are designed by elliptical circular hyperboloids. What is amazing is that the colors of the lights change through days and even months of the year.

Taste'n Travel: La Sagrada Familia Interior
Taste’n Travel: Interior of La Sagrada Familia

What gives the basilica a unique interior view is the natural style of the walls and ceilings. The interior resembles a forest and it was designed in this way to make the visitor feel as if they were in heaven.  Gaudi managed to provide this forest-like expressionism through random shape arboreal style columns. The many color lights dispersed around the walls and ceilings enriches this natural style.

The bronze door is another part that captured my attention in the interior. There will be the main entrance of the basilica when finished and the other side will face the Glory facade. What I found interesting with the door is that it is engraved as the speeches of texts from the bible in various languages and this way it is welcoming all the visitors from different nationalities.

La Sagrada Familia is a “must” attraction to see for anyone who is interested in traveling to Barcelona. The official address is Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013. Opening hours depends on the season click here for more information. The entry price also depends on the tour and the ticket with an audio guide is € 22,00. Click here for the official website.

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