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As a resident of Barcelona who has to get around the city, I try to distance myself at least half a kilometer from Gaudí’s Sagrada Família. If I do find myself there, I’m often walking behind a tour guide carrying a flag above his head with 57 slow-moving tourists being herded along.
But they have good reason to follow.
An unfinished piece of work, the Sagrada Família attracts millions of visitors every year. Perhaps the most emblematic attraction, the construction of this Roman Catholic church started in 1882.
Its design draws together Gothic architecture, Modernism, and Art Nouveau. With Gaudí’s untimely death, slow funding, fires and other reasons, the projected completion is expected in 2026!
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The church has three facades: The Passion facade, the Glory facade (to be completed), and this one, the Nativity facade.
Natural light peeks through the stained-glass windows in an array of rainbow colors.
The back of the church.
Although the genius architect died before seeing the interior, the columns of the Sagrada Familia are Gaudi’s design. They replicate tree trunks and its branches. In fact, the circular decor on the sides of the column imitate a scar that is formed when part of the branch is cut off a tree trunk.
Geometric forms, curves, and jagged edges make an elaborate design. Soaring buttresses shaped like tree trunks support the geometrically harmonious ceiling panels.
A spiral staircase is tucked in one corner.
The side of the nave.
On the bottom floor, there’s a small museum explaining the inspiration behind some of the architectural details.
The tips of the towers. Anyone else craving asparagus?
Even though I pass by this structure and feel completely annoyed by the swarming tourists, it’s hard to deny its unique presence. I contemplate if Gaudí would have approved the completed version of his works in this modern day. Either way, the Sagrada Familia is here to stay.
California native, churro aficionado, and mom of 3, Justine Ancheta writes fervently about Barcelona and Spain. Since 2008, she's been eating burnt onions (calçots) and tripping on cobblestones in the Gothic Quarter. She shares tips on popular attractions, exposes offbeat non-touristy spots, and gives insight on exploring Barcelona with kids. Her next Catalan culture challenge: top level of a human castle (castellers).
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