La Sagrada Familia stained glass windows

The Barcelona Beauty – La Sagrada Familia

Posted on Posted in Art, Barcelona, Spain, Travel

On my first visit to Barcelona, a quick cruise stop, we didn’t want to wait in line for tickets to the famous Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s unfinished cathedral, more than 133 years in the works (since 1882) so I admired it from afar and took a few photos. I regretted not visiting the interior and learning more about this iconic structure.

La Sagrada Familia Barcelona
In the park a block away to fit the church into the picture
La Sagrada Familia stained glass windows
The stained glass windows are stunning at La Sagrada Familia

With only one day to tour Barcelona on my visit last month, I chose to do the food tour with Devour Barcelona in the morning and figured I’d wait another time to deal with the cathedral, tour and tickets. Luckily one of the other bloggers on the food tour mentioned she was visiting after the tour if I wanted to join her. So I went to the La Sagrada Familia and easily found a ticket to enter at 3:15 p.m. for €15.

La Sagrada Familia
The entry way to the cathedral in the back of the church (the melted side as I call it)

In the front of the church, there is a long ticket line to the left and ticket booths in front as well as exiting tourists. It’s quite busy. If you have a ticket (paper or on phone) you go to the back of the church and find your line. In the afternoon, the line was short so we easily showed the phone barcode, had our bags searched and entered the church in less than ten minutes.

La Sagrada Familia alter
Above the alter at La Sagrada Familia

Looking at the church/cathedral and the ongoing work to complete it, I wonder why? Gaudi was obviously a bit obsessed with this place and you can see it everywhere. Visually, your eyes don’t know where to look first – ahead, to the right, to the left, up, over, down – it’s just too much detail. From the front it looks put together and yet from the back I’ve always thought it looked a bit like a melted candle from far away not realizing how much detail I was ignoring.

La Sagrada Familia door detail
The detail on the door – do you see the skull?

Inside the massive building, the first thing you notice is the colors everywhere and the fantastic colors streaming through the windows onto the people. The colors can change all day long depending on the light and time of day making each visit quite unique from a photography standpoint in my opinion. While there are people everywhere admiring the works and taking photos, it was still easy to move about and enjoy the visit. Thankfully, there are some seats to sit and take it all in because too much visual input can be exhausting to process.

La Sagrada Familia
The afternoon yellow light streaming in at La Sagrada Familia

But why finish it? Isn’t the best part of the story that it is unfinished, a dream unrealized, not a happy ending? As an expiatory church it relies on donations alone which is astounding in this day and age that people are funding the completion when they could donate to other worthy causes in my opinion.  The hope is that the church will be completed in 2026 or 2028!

La Sagrada Familia stained glass windows
La Sagrada Familia Stained glass windows
La Sagrada Familia organ pipes
La Sagrada Familia organ pipes and stained glass window

The Sagra Familia is definitely worth the price of admission and you can easily buy your ticket on your phone (or internet before you leave the U.S.).  There are many ticket types – with a guide, with an audio guide, combination with Park Guell, etc.  so do decide what is best for your schedule but please don’t wait in line and waste time as Barcelona has so many amazing foods to try, Cava to drink and sights to see.

La Sagrada Familia organ pipes
Have to really have a keen eye to see the colors reflecting everywhere like on the organ pipes

It was a shame Gaudi was sweating the small stuff to make it perfect because it’s the imperfections that are beautiful in life – the unfinished La Sagrada Familia is definitely a beauty inside and out.

La Sagrada Familia under construction
Still work to do for the next 11 or 13 years!

2 thoughts on “The Barcelona Beauty – La Sagrada Familia

  1. Wow, La Sagrada Familia is beautiful! I have never been to Barcelona, but I would definitely love to visit this cathedral someday. I love your photo of the outside of this church; it’s amazing that you had to take the photo from an entire block away just to fit it into the picture. Great post!

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