We spent an entire day visiting several Antoni Gaudi sites across Barcelona. We started with his crowning achievement (still under construction even though it was started 133 years ago) – La Segrada Familia.
This basilica is spectacular beyond the measure of words and images. I was overwhelmed with the brilliance of its design and the human ambition and energy put into it.
We were smart. We bought tickets online in advance and passed by the hundreds of people standing in line to walk right into the monument during our allotted 15 minute time slot.
Much has been written about Gaudi and I’m no expert so I won’t pretend to know much about him or his architectural design here. But I will say the experience of going there is something I’d highly recommend to anybody lucky enough to visit Barcelona – a must see!
We picked up an audio-guide and started outside the building on the Nativity Facade – the only side completed during Gaudi’s lifetime (he died in 1926 after being hit by a tram cross the street). From here you can see the story of the Nativity and of Christ’s life. It’s intricate in its incorporation of nature, from a cypress tree that centers the towers as a focal point, to the chameleon in the facade, or the ladybug and snails incorporated into the doorway art. It looks as though it is has come alive with writhing and oozing of organic nature.
From there we headed the vast open interior like a forest with a high canopy of vaulted ceilings overhead. You are instantly awash in a colored rainbow from the stained glass and your attention is pulled to focus at one end where Christ on the cross is hung under a lantern lit parachute or canopy that seems to be ascending him to the Heavens above.
Our tickets included access to the Nativity Towers which can now be ascended in an elevator but require a walk down. 25 years ago when Tawny was here she had to make the walk up the stairs. We nearly had the place to ourselves even though hundreds (if not a thousand people) strolled around the outside and interior below. I was most impressed by the nautilus spiral stair case you have to climb on the way down – Fibonacci’s golden ratio perfectly represented.
We ended our tour on the Passion Facade side which is much more angular in its design. It is being built according to Gaudi’s original plans but has sculptures added by another artist since this side is still under construction and wasn’t started during Gaudi’s lifetime.
You can see from the photos that the site is still actively a construction zone. While the church looks huge (and it does dominate the Barcelona skyline today) they haven’t even built the 566 foot Torre de Jusecrist (the tallest central tower) which is supposed to be completed by 2020. I look forward to returning to La Sagrada Familia 20 or more years from now to see how they’ve made progress in completing his brilliant vision.