If you’ve ever been to Barcelona before, you would have seen one of the most famous architectural wonders in the world sitting on a hill looming over the city. It’s called Sagrada Familia, and it’s by far one of Europe’s most iconic landmarks.
People come from all over to visit this extraordinary cathedral, and for a good reason! Spend at least an hour roaming through its many rooms and halls. This will guarantee you get your money’s worth from this amazing experience.
It is a church with no church… It’s also a temple of faith to some, and it will probably be controversial. The project began in 1882 under the call of architect Antoni Gaudi but remained unfinished until 1926. Then, not too long after Gaudi died in 1926, Francesc Puig I Cadafalch, who had been working on the project since 1906, began work on completing the church as Gaudi left it.
However, in 1936, construction was halted by the Spanish Civil War. On July 19, 1936, the now famous church was set ablaze by arsonists.
It wasn’t until 1994 when the project was back underway, and the architect Jordi Bonet joined in to continue where Gaudi left off. The construction was completed more than 100 years after work started!
Nowadays, it is considered one of Barcelona’s most popular tourist attractions.
But is it worth going inside?
When I saw Sagrada Familia for the first time, I was with a small group of people on our way from the airport to Barcelona. My first impression was that it was an extraordinary-looking building. It had a unique design and was unlike anything I see in most churches (at least in Europe).
It did not take long before I realized why it is such a popular tourist attraction. If you’re unfamiliar with Spanish, you might call this “La Catedral del Milagro.” Roughly translated as “The Cathedral of the Miracle,” there is a reason behind the name. All over Sagrada Familia, some engravings tell a story of various miracles. There are also many other things you can read about when you go inside. Before all this, make an advance book for Sagrada Familia Tour and make sure the tour pass should be the skipped line pass.
Visiting during the day was great, but for anyone with a passion for architecture and churches, I would highly recommend going at night. It is quite a fantastic experience to see all the lights shining from within. Suppose you ever wanted to be inside and explore a cathedral. In that case, it’s probably not possible in most churches worldwide. This place is certainly different if it’s allowed at all.
As no guides are allowed in the church, this is one of the more memorable experiences you can have. But unfortunately, there isn’t much to see besides what was already there when it burned down in 1936.
Inside The Sagrada Familia
So, it is wise to know a few things before heading inside! To start with, the Sagrada Familia has fourteen artistic chapels that house missals from around the world. The main altar has two angels designed by Josep Subirachs and is made of paper mache. The carpets in the church came from the United States and were purchased in 1925. The font that lies beneath the main altar was made in 1975 by Marc Aurelio Artigas, whose contribution is also seen outside the church, where he created the three reliefs that were mounted onto the façade. It’s a relatively small but beautiful font.
The church’s nave stands at 138 meters and is only a third of the way finished. However, you can see from the outside that it looks like a completed structure. Sagrada Familia’s main draw is its architecture. The building is Catalan Romanesque in style and has more than 14,000 statues! And that’s not even counting the building itself! It was initially intended to be a cathedral for Barcelona when construction was first started in 1882.
Though it is a fantastic building, it is mainly the architecture that makes this church popular. From the outside and the inside, this church has a very Gothic feel to it. The most recognized angel is the one that stands at the top of the main altar, which was donated by Barcelona’s former mayor Joan Camorra. It represents Faith and Hope.
The exterior design is based on Gothic architecture, with many similar elements replicated in Sagrada Familia’s construction. It has a massive dome with elegant columns and sculptures that radiate from the centerpiece. Like many other cathedrals and churches, Sagrada Familia has a tremendous façade that stands out. Some famous sculptures include The Passion of Christ and God’s Family, which Josep Subirachs designed in 1926.
The Passion of Christ is one of Barcelona’s most popular tourist attractions. It tells the story of Jesus’ last days on Earth. You can see Jesus carrying the cross to his crucifixion and being struck by lightning. The sculpture is breathtaking. Many tourists have commented that this is one of the most beautiful churches they have ever visited, and trust us. It’s not just because of its history!
The inside of this church is decorated with marble, mosaics, stained glass windows, and ceramics. You will run into many angels with long wings perched on top of arches or pillars throughout the church.
There are a few things that are left up to your interpretation. The angels, for example, can be seen as a symbol of faith, or the angels can be seen as devils, depending on what you believe. The church is also the final resting place of Joan Comorera, who donated many of the sculptures and other artwork inside.
The two towers intended to be built also been left up to the imagination. The first has a statue of the dove on top and is symbolic of peace, while the other end has an angel with its arms stretched out. You’ll realize that these two shapes make up an archway when you step back. There are many interpretations of this style, but you must see for yourself when stepping inside.
This is one of Barcelona’s hidden treasures and a big part of our culture. Don’t pass up the chance to visit this fantastic cathedral!
Note: The entrance fee is steep, so save up if you want to visit the church and enjoy the whole experience. It is worth it!
Related tours: Louvre Museum Tour