A Walk Through La Sagrada Familia

There are no straight lines or sharp corners in nature. Therefore, buildings must have no straight lines or sharp corners.

– Antonio Gaudi

A few weeks ago we received visitors, which gave us the opportunity to do something touristic. For those of you that live in a big city, do you not sometimes have a feeling that the tourists have seen more historical sites than you have? On this particularly overcast and freezing day, we were able to visit La Sagrada Familia while following a guided tour (in French!).

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia is a Roman Catholic Basilica in Barcelona, which is still being built. It is impressively tall, so due to the fact that Barcelona is not a city of skyscrapers, depending where you are standing you can see it peering at you through the buildings, always with a few cranes looming overhead.

The construction of La Sagrada Familia began in 1882. The architect Antonio Gaudi was appointed as the chief architect the following year in 1883. He lived there while he was working on the designs, until his unexpected death in 1926, being hit by a tram on his way to his daily prayers.

The building was interrumpted during the Spanish civil war and has suffered a couple of fires. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010. It is scheduled to be finished by 2026, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of Gaudi, though nobody really knows when it will finalize. At the same time I think many of the natives can’t imagine La Sagrada Familia without all the cranes over it. I’m going to be a bit of a party pooper now and say that I think the whole project has turned into a horribly grotesque tourist attraction.

The Basilica follows the typical Gaudi style, heavily inspired by the designs of nature, full of leaves, branches and animals. At the same time he wanted it to have some Gothic influences, which I will not go into because I’m no expert. It is also replete with symbolism nearly anywhere you look.

There are completely different façades to the building. One side (looking North) is the obvious Gaudi style one which represents the Nativity. It’s the happier side as it expresses life’s profusion, full of beautiful natural influenced ornaments and statues.

La Sagrada Familia Nativity

La Sagrada Familia Temple

The inside is equally impressive with tall pillars that are like branches of trees. Beautiful stained glass are used in the windows, which are to give a beautiful luminous effect, though unfortunately we couldn’t experience the effect on that grey day.

Inside the Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

Windows of the Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia Barcelona

The opposite façade (looking South) represents Passion (from Latin “patior, pati, passus”, to suffer). This was designed by various architects and dramatically contrasts with the Nativity façade as it is – in line with Gaudi’s vision for this façade – quite bare and macabre, expressing death’s grimness.

La Sagrada Familia Death

La Sagrada Familia Catholic Church

There will be another spectacular façade (looking East) leading to the central nave. Its construction has begun but is nowhere near complete and will represent Glory, showing Death and Judgement Day.

Have to visited La Sagrada Familia? I would love to hear about your take on it.

Thank you for reading!

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  1. Guillermina Bósquez Stover 2013-12-04 at 16:15

    I took my son to Spain to Spain in October 2007 and our last stop (and the best one, of course!) was Barcelona. I wanted so much to tour this gorgeous cathedral, but by then my son was physically and emotionally saturated with all the beauty in Barcelona. So we took the double decker bus and toured the city. We saw La Sagrada Familia from the bus, wow, what a spectacular building. I have read all about Gaudi, who was a DEVOUT Catholic and an Art Nouveau ARTIST of the highest order. Luckily we toured inside two of his other gems, Casa Batllo and Casa Mila. But someday, someday, I will return to Barcelona and walk to my heart’s content in La Sagrada Familia…I was NOT tainted by the Black Legend…well, not entirely!

    1. Sofia 2013-12-07 at 21:58

      Oh I’ve never taken the double decker bus (because I’m not a tourist here 😉 ) but I should because I know it makes some great routes. I always recumbent my friends that visit to take it, and I know they have seen some things that I haven’t seen. So, it’s really great that you’ve done that. The Casa Mila used to have a room with a piano and sometimes my piano friends (who are professionals) would play concerts there. Of course I would go, and it would be such a magical evening.
      I hope you do return to Bcn and get to visit the inside of the Sagrada Familia this time. You’ll be surprised at all its changes!

  2. Guillermina Bósquez Stover 2013-12-04 at 16:17

    Oh, and thank you so much for posting these photos…

    1. Sofia 2013-12-07 at 21:58

      De nada 🙂

  3. ChgoJohn 2013-12-04 at 16:22

    It’s been over a dozen years since I last saw the Basilica. So much has been accomplished since then! One day, I’ll get to go back and see it again. Thank you for bringing me along this time. 🙂

    1. Sofia 2013-12-07 at 21:59

      I hope you do get to come back. I live sort of nearby and every time I go past the Sagrada Familia, I can see there is something new on it, yes, so much has been accomplished. Cheers!

  4. Sunny 2013-12-04 at 16:55

    This is the most amazing building I have EVER set foot in! If I visit Barcelona again, I’d LOVE to go back!

    1. Sofia 2013-12-07 at 22:00

      Hey Sunny I hope you do. And what is also amazing is that it’s always bigger and more amazing each time you visit it!

  5. pianolearner 2013-12-04 at 17:06

    I don’t understand how it can take so long? Surely they should hire a load more people, it would help with jobs, and get it built sooner? Am I missing something? 😉

    1. Sofia 2013-12-07 at 22:01

      Surely if they get a move on they could contribute in fixing the dreadful Spanish economy 😉

  6. pianolearner 2013-12-04 at 17:10

    for all my previous questions I forgot to say how beautiful it looks. One of my favourite buildings in the UK is Durham Cathedral.

    1. Sofia 2013-12-07 at 22:04

      I just looked up the Durham Cathedral and it looks really beautiful. I haven’t gone there but a cathedral in England that I do remember being in awe with is the one in York.

  7. Joyce 2013-12-04 at 22:38

    That is absolutely amazing. I love Gaudi’s architecture and it is near the top of my list of sights to see when I finally get to see Europe!

    With this particular example, though…I don’t think I have ever seen it in such detail. Thank you so much for sharing it with us. This is a work of art and he was truly a visionary.

    1. Sofia 2013-12-07 at 22:05

      I hope you do get to come here and see it. Barcelona does have some very uniquely styles buildings (many thanks to Gaudi of course).

    1. Sofia 2013-12-07 at 22:04

      I’m glad you like it Marcella! x

  8. Johnny Hepburn 2013-12-05 at 03:56

    Even though I’ve been to Barcelona lots of times I’ve only ever visited La Sagrada Familia once, probably on my first ever visit – so long ago there wasn’t even a roof! Only the towers were open to the public. Odd that I’ve never seen photos of the Passion facade. Horrors! Reminds me of brutalistic monuments you still see in Bulgaria.

    1. Sofia 2013-12-07 at 22:07

      There wasn’t a roof! Wow, its really changed since then. You’re right, it’s strange that the Passion façade is the other “main” one at the moment, yet the pictures always represent the Nativity side. And yes, its very macabre, but I suppose that is the intention.

  9. Kiss & Make-up 2013-12-06 at 11:36

    Oh wow, this just looks speeeeectacular! I’d love to visit Barcelona and the La Sagrada Familia one day.

    1. Sofia 2013-12-07 at 22:08

      I’m sure you’d love Barcelona so I hope you do! xx

  10. Saskia (1=2) 2013-12-06 at 20:50

    So, so wonderful to see this Sofia. Fantastic photos. The Nativity facade almost brings me to tears. We saw La Sagrada 20 years ago, and it was a shell by comparison. We made it our duty to visit as many of Gaudi’s buildings as we could, even the smallest apartment blocks, and I was in awe. I have mixed emotions about La Sagrada Familia. My gut feeling is that it has become an abomination, and I’m sure Gaudi would turn in his crypt if he could see it now. Have you read Robert Hughes book, Barcelona? He was savage in his criticism of the later additions.
    Personally, I think la Sagrada Familia should’ve been left alone, incomplete and beautiful, as Gaudi’s last monument.

    1. Sofia 2013-12-07 at 22:10

      I think I know what you mean with the mixed emotions. On one hand its so amazing and spectacular. On the other hand I’m not sure if this is how it was really supposed to be, it’s beginning to be a grotesque spectacle now, and probably not exactly what Gaudi wanted. I haven’t read the book but I’m putting it on my list.

      1. Saskia (1=2) 2013-12-12 at 05:10

        PS. Just had an animated family discussion based around this post Sofia! It prompted me to drag out the albums of our trip to Barcelona years ago. My boys were enthralled. The husband disagrees with my thoughts on leaving La Sagrada alone as an unfinished monument; and thinks Barcelona deserves its’ cathedral, in all its’ mismatched glory!

    1. Sofia 2013-12-24 at 17:37

      You’re welcome!

  11. Rona Black Photography 2013-12-24 at 02:15

    Your exterior close-ups are phenomenal. I’ve visited once but was overwhelmed with it in its entirety that I did get the chance to get a good look at the detail. Thank you.

    1. Sofia 2013-12-24 at 17:39

      I can understand what you mean. I actually live quite close by to it, about 15 minutes walk away and every time I pass it I feel a tad overwhelmed. Its just when you look at each detail that you realise all the thought and symbolism that has gone into it. xx


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