Sagrada Familia….in the midst of the tourist season you have to wait for 1,5 hours to get in. At least, that’s what friends told me. We were lucky I guess, visiting Barcelona end of February: we were able to move from the busy streets to the sacred interior of this cathedral in no more than 15 minutes.
A beggar approached us while we were waiting in line. He mumbled a bit in what seemed to be Spanish and pointed at this terribly damaged legs. The plastic cup he was carrying around unfortunately was empty…..it was not his lucky day. He dragged himself to the end of the (short) waiting line, only to return disappointed… a longer waiting line in the height of the tourist season would surely generate a better income.
That’s harsh reality, just like the fact that the mastermind behind the Sagrada Family, Antoni Gaudí, was killed when he was struck by a passing tram. Just like that. He was taking his daily walk to church for his prayers.
The Sagrada Familia is tourist attraction no. 1 in Barcelona. That’s also how most local people from Barcelona look at it: an important monument to the city, but still a touristic place. They don’t consider it a church where they go to pray. The Santa Maria Del Mar elsewhere in the city is considered the church of the “people”, because the “people” collaborated in its construction – carrying stones from mount Montjüic to the district of La Ribera. It’s worth a visit as well.
The cathedral designed by Gaudí was only a 3 minute walk from our apartment so we had ample time to check it out, day and night.
It’s an impressive, almost surreal building. There are so many details to discover, do take at least a couple of hours to check it out.
By the way, don’t mind the cranes. Don’t try to get a picture without them. The Sagrada Familia is still under construction and the cranes have been there for decades already….and will be for at least another 10 years. They have become almost part of the cathedral itself. If you come across a picture of the Sagrada Familia without cranes, it’s photoshopped for sure!
To understand why the cathedral is still not finished (and why the cranes are constantly in the frame), let me explain a bit about the history.
Gaudí was a Spanish architect, born in 1852. Agreed, his style was very distinctive (which is still an understatement) and the Sagrada Familia was his magnum opus. All through Barcelona you will find examples of his building style (and you will recognize it immediately) but the Sagrada is one of a kind.
He thought in different ways about how to design a building. Gaudi’s work was influenced by nature and religion. He performed studies on nature and found abundant examples that he used in his design: leaves, trunks, trees, snail houses, etc. Look at the columns inside the cathedral where he tried to mirror trees and branches. Or the famous spiral staircase in the shape of a snail house!
In 1883 the architect Gaudí was put in charge of the Sagrada Familia. From 1915 to his death in 1926 he completely devoted himself to this project. At the moment when Gaudí was unfortunately hit by a tram, only a quarter of the project was complete. After his death the construction progressed only slowly due to wars and economic crises. The completion date is now set on 2026 (the centennial of Gaudi’s death)!
I don’t know if this is breaking news, but according to unofficial sources (our apartment host, red.), the Sagrada Familia will be finished much sooner (in a couple of years from now), under pressure of the ever increasing number of visitors. She also told me that the whole apartment block you see on the picture (in front of the cathedral) will be demolished in favor of a new entrance to this major site. I don’t know how happy the tenants are….or if they have any choice. Maybe we can also call that the harsh reality of life.