Having seen and read so much of this world renowned icon of Barcelona, La Sagrada Familia or Church of Holy Family, to finally stand in front of this architecture wonder, we were immediately stunned by its imposing structure. The Church of Holy Family is a representation of the complex merger of architecture and engineering knowledge by Antoni Gaudi, intricate artwork and deep faith by its craftsmen.
La Sagrada Familia is reputed as the church that is always under construction. True enough, of the 8 Bell Towers where each is being dedicated to an Apostle, only 4 were completed when we visited.
As construction of the La Sagrada Familia was never completed, the altar was left empty since Gaudi’s time. Finally on 7 November 2010, an altar was set up and it was consecrated as a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI after a long construction period of 135 years and still counting….
Interior of La Sagrada Familia
The interior of the basilica is considered non-elaborate as compared to the many churches we visited in Spain and Italy. Nevertheless, what makes it striking was Gaudi’s careful “play” of gigantic columns and windows to create a dramatic light display. Standing among these huge columns with the arrays of light was magical.
On Top of La Sagrada Familia
The summit of the basilica provides breathtaking view (and the most stunning sunset) of Barcelona! It also provides us the opportunity to admire the “characters” that adorns the facade of the basilica up close. As it was near to closing time, we only queued for half an hour (which is considered extremely short) for the elevator. The wait was totally worth it!
Though we had been to many Observation Towers in different countries, we had never felt drawn to them unlike this one. Was it the beautiful view or the spirituality of the place? Very reluctantly, we made our way down. While we can descend using the elevator, we decided to walk down instead to fully appreciate the church.
Each of the Bell Tower contains a spiral staircase made of 400 steep stone steps that links the top of the Bell Tower to the lower galleries. The narrow, steeply curved staircase coupled with the little light make the descend treacherous and exhilarating.
Exterior of La Sagrada Familia
What really stuns visitors and makes La Sagrada Familia the subject of many architecture documentaries and a must visit landmark on many travellers tick-off list is its unimaginably spectacular facade. The La Sagrada Familia comprises two distinct facades illustrating the birth and death of Jesus Christ.
The Passion facade depicts the suffering of Christ with scenes from the Station of the Cross and the crucifixion of Christ.
A clean and simple theme was used to highlight the solemnity of the Passion. This was a stark contrast from the Nativity facade which is rich in details and live! After all, it is the story of the visitation by the angel to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ and the birth of Christ.
Not only is the focus point of this facade rich in details, the entire facade was carved in the same richness of details. It is a sight to behold!
Putting the carvings aside, what impressed us even more was the spirit and dedication of the master craftsman responsible for this piece of art. The Japanese master craftsman moved to Barcelona upon accepting this job, and had not left since. Being a Buddhist, he was unable to appreciate the nativity of Christ. This became a hindrance to his work, which prompted him to study the Bible intensely for many years. He eventually converted to Christianity before starting the carvings. Therefore, these carvings reflect his take of what the true essence of the nativity of Christ is.
After admiring the interior and exterior of the Holy Family Church, visitors can visit the Crypt where Gaudi is buried. Most importantly, make a trip down to the museum to fully appreciate the conception of this master piece.
Museum of La Sagrada Familia
It is a rather small museum that explains the history of the basilica. The main highlight has to be the section that showcase and explains the architecture idea of Gaudi. An architecture model of how Gaudi designed the Colonia Guell Church was on display. It was an eye-opener and extremely awe-inspiring!
Best time to visit
Super long queues and tight securities are expected. As always, our advice is to go against the crowd by avoiding the popular timings. We visited two hours prior to its closing. That left us with very little time to deeply appreciate the place. Nevertheless, the consolation was no queue at ticketing, security checks and a relatively short queue at the elevator. And except for the crypt, we really didn’t miss much. So, no regrets.