The highlight of our Barcelona stop was the tour of Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi’s modern spin on a cathedral.
The MR scheduled a tour in English of the church and the Passion Tower when we were still at home. With the crowds of people surrounding the place, I’m thinking this was the way to go. Our tour started at 12:30 pm, and they wouldn’t let us in to the cathedral till 15 minutes before. That left time for some pictures from the park across the street before starting.
I’m intrigued by architecture and figured that would be the focus of our vist. I was oh so wrong. This is amazing, interesting architecture, and so much more. Gaudi was a christian and wanted this cathedral to tell Christ’s story without using words.
The original architect quit after a year,and Gaudi took over. He threw out the first set of plans and came up with this. While he was fond of saying “My client (God) is not in a hurry,” he also wanted to please those paying for the project. So he focused his work on the Nativity Facade.
Joyful and exuberant, it tells the story of the sacred family (hence Sagrada Familia) and the birth of Jesus. The wisemen and shepherds kneel in adoration while angels rejoice. Along with man, all nature celebrates in excess. It is a playful and joyous place—the beginning. This was all of the cathedral that was complete when Gaudi died in 1926.
Then you step inside and see Gaudi’s amazing plan. The cool colors of the morning bath the interior.
All nature speaks of God’s glory, so Gaudi created trees to support the structure.
And then we left through the Passion Entrance—the story of the last week of Jesus’ life. Betrayed by a kiss, beaten, hanged, ultimately ascending to heaven.
This part was all completed after the architect’s death, but his plan was for stark bone-like structures and severe statues echoing the somber mood of the story.
Along with the cathedral, we had access to the museum showing Gaudi’s models and some of the planning that went into the building of this place.
Gaudi used strings and weights along with gravity to help figure out the curves of some of his creative structures
Gaudi had models of Sagrada Familia showing his plans for the future. At the time of his death, he was living in the workroom onsite and looked like a creative genius. That can also translate to a homeless person. When in 1926 he was struck by a streetcar, he was sent to the hospital for indigents and died a few days later. In an age before Twitter and Facebook, his private burial was attended by thousands. His final resting place is in the crypt of the church where services are still held.
Ten years later, the Spanish revolution incited people to descrate churches and kill priests across Spain. Many of Gaudi’s models were destroyed, and the outside of the cathedral still shows signs of the fire.
Later years, the work was restarted with the Passion. The final entrance is to be the Glory Gate depicting Jesus’ return in triumph. The plan is to have Sagrada Familia finished by 2026 on the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.
After visiting the museum, we returned to the cathedral to travel to the top of the Passion Tower and this view of Barcelona.
We had the choice of riding the elevator back down or taking the stairs. You can see much more when you take the stairs.
We passed statues.
And eventually made it safely back to the ground overcoming the MR’s fear of heights and my fear of being terminally clumsy. Back into the cathedral we went for one last look. Through the bronze door with the gospel in Catalunya.
And back into the beautiful light.
While the sun rises in the east and baths that side of the cathedral in blues and greens, the sun sets in the west and with Christ’s death and bathes the room in reds and oranges.
This is not a light show, the plan was put together 130 years ago, and it’s simply awesome.
As a believer, I love the symbolism of this place and the story it tells. Even if this all means nothing to you, it’s amazing architecture and beauty. An english tour is worth the wait, and plan ahead so you’re not left out.
That’s me and the MR signing out on our European adventure.
Any must see places we missed? Where should we go next?