I have not visited the Sagrada Familia in some years, although it always is a point of reference, if one ever catches a glimpse of the Barcelona Skyline, rearing as it does, above the city. When a family friend dropped in for a visit, I thought it would be fun to go again, especially in light of the fact that she was an architect, and that it’s possible to learn and see new things each time you visit, as the Cathedral is still under construction.
We duly set off on a gloomy day, and thanks to the weather managed to somewhat skip the crowds and queues. Although rain is not the optimal setting for visiting the church, as parts of the tour take in the exterior façades, it did not deter us too much. We paid the whopping 20 euros or so to climb the towers, and enjoy the audio guide, which I do believe makes the experience a little more interesting. As we entered, we discovered that a service was in full swing in the crypt chapel, and I loved that this was separate from the tourist hordes. If you wanted to come and enjoy a tranquil moment of reflection or prayer, you would enter in another door (with another entrance price .. 11 euros maybe), and I believe the Sacred Family would hold a different experience and welcome for you. Bare in mind though, that curious visitors doing the tour in the main building of the church can peer down on you from windows on the ground floor.
The previous time I visited this section was not complete, in fact the interior of the main chapel was filled with giant concrete construction blocks, but nothing quite prepares you for the splendour of the the ceilings, which Guadi famously designed after the trunks of trees. And on this, my second visit, I was no less impressed. They stretch up, reminiscent of huge sequoias, and the light filters down as if you were indeed in a forest.
We took in the highlights, which include the nativity façade, the spiral stair case that descends from the towers, the magnificent views across the roof of the cathedral and the city of Barcelona and eventually concluded our tour in the museum. If you do visit Barcelona, and it’s your first visit, even if you only have a few days, make sure that La Sagrada Familia features on your check list of sights. Not only does it give an introduction to the heart of Barcelona, it also details the life of Antoni Gaudi and many of his other architectural works. You would be able to see Casa Mila and Casa Batllo as well as park Guell through new eyes. And if you are on a budget, and don’t want to be spending loads of euros on every building or museum, and have to make selective choices, the Sagrada Familia is a good choice to make.
If it’s not your cup of tea, however, you can skip the HUGE queues, and take yourself for a walk around it’s exterior, there are plenty of interesting details that you can spot from the outside. I love the turtles, chameleons, snails and lizards that crawl up the various walls.