These huge columns support that arching roof WAY over your head. The Audio Guide gives you a number, saying it is so and so HIGH...but the numbers do not translate into what your eyes see, this ceiling is REALLY HIGH. The simple colums with few or no decorations on the lower sections seem to slim to support such a ceiling. Some branch out at about 3/4 of the way up, they look like a tree with the lower branches missing. Some of the columns support walkways or balconies, but others reach all the way up to the ceiling that seems such a vast distance. This may be a function of the amount of light, Sagrada Familia is designed to let in light. Many older structures look gloomy, Sagrada Familia does not, even with its huge size, maybe "welcoming" would be the word I'm looking for.
No problem with claustrophobia here in Sagrada Familia, the ceilings are so high that if you don't actually look up you may not notice them. But Gaudi took care of that also, the columns are built in such a way that they seem to naturally draw your glance upwards...and I guess in a church that is the point, "look to heaven". The diversity of the different design elements he used around the ceilings is beautiful if somewhat simpler than what we had seen in many Gaudi designs. Many looked like flowers with the center being a skylight, letting in sunlight so that the flower could glow. Again, the columns themselves were on the simple side, almost no protrusions or decorations, just simple columns with a single "bulge" somewhere near the top where the column would split and arch over and on that bulge are varying decorations.
Admit it, the first thing that comes to your mind when you visit a religious structure is, NOT, going up in the tower for a look around, or at least it was not my first thought. But here in the Sagrada Familia of Gaudi, I would tell anyone, it is a slightly restricted view because of the way the openings in the tower are built, narrow like the arrow slits on castle walls is what they reminded me of. But it IS THE BEST VIEW IN TOWN (with possibly one exception, the Torre de Collserola tower and Tibidabo, up on the highest hill surrounding Barcelona)
So take a look at the first photo which shows the view straight down inside the tower. If you have no problem with heights, then take this short trip up. You can get an elevator, costs about 2.50 Euro and they give you a specific time that you have the elevator, so don't miss it.
As you can see in the photos the continous building is putting up scaffolding, making some of the views very "junky" (even the top of the tower had been covered in some sort of netting to protect it from damage or falling pieces), but the clear views are spectacular to say the least.
From the ticket booths, to reach the museum, you need to enter the Passion entrance, cross the entire width of the basicilla, exit by way of the Nativity entrance and then go down a ramp on the right side to enter the underground museum.
The museum has on display facade designs, concept drawings & sketches, carvings and flooring plans. There is even an observation room where you can observe workers preparing things for the building.
The third main entrance that leads into the temple is apparently the simple brother to the Passion and Nativity side entrances. As you can see in the first photo, very little decoration, but if you look closely you will see three orange spots up high. No those are not stained glass windows, those are three workmen on ropes that you can see better in the second photo.
The third photo shows again the Passion entrance, but as seen from the side. This is just to compare it with the fourth photo that shows the undecorated entrance. The fifth and last photo here shows some of the typical Gaudi type decorations on the roof, similiar to Bathlo and Palau Guell.
The Nativity facade or entrance on the opposite side from the Passion entrance, needs a long view to see it in its entirety, but also a close up view to see the tiny intricate details. Unlike the Passion facade which has almost monumental sized statuary with angular and pure lines, the Nativity facade has gone in the opposite direction with such a gluttony of detail that you need to sit down and try to wrap your imagination around all you can see. I have added only a few of the dozens of photos I took, most with a telephoto lens so I could later see in more detail what was too far away to see. This entrance towers above you and the small details continue all the way up.
When you get your ticket and enter by way of the Passion gate, if you do not look UP, you might imagine that you are entering any public building, the double entrance doors are, when compared with the rest of the structure, rather simple. I would suggest that you AVOID looking up until you pay for your ticket and reach the entrance...at that point, STOP, then look up. A very impressive display, both in size and design. The many statues surrounding the HUGE arches at this point is one of the most outstanding features of a place that has lots and lots of outstanding features.
The Passion facade of the Sagrada Familia is just too vast to get into a photo, or even a few photos, you would have to leave the basicilica, cross the street and enter the park to be able to get it all into a single photo. All devoted to the death and ressurection of Jesus (sorry, that is what I got from the audioguide, I admit that I am not well versed in religion of any sort).
Sagrada Familia, or the Basilica of the Holy Family, is an eyecatching and awesome structure and I can only imagine it will be more so when they finally finish it. At this stage we inquired and they expect to finish in 2025. The entire structure is being built from contributions and the money you pay to enter (the tickets cover three aspects, Entrance cost 12.50, Audioguide 4.00 Euro and Lift to top of tower 2.50 Euro, total of 19 Euro. With the Barcelona card we paid only 15 Euro).
One important point is that opening time is 9am (09:00) and it is a good idea to get there before the crowds. As you can see in our photo below, we arrived at 08:40 and there was already a line with hundreds, but it went quickly, by 9:30 we were inside.
You DO get to photograph the exterior while you are waiting in line though.
Aside from the official site listed, here are a few others that give different views and insights to Sagrada Familia -
The church is to be completed by 2025, and not earlier, but it was consecrated in 2010 by the Pope. The city and State has put in millions; like $18 million for 2009 alone, in addition to private donations, for a total to finish to date of $70 million, and only 50% complete. This is progress in that it was only 25% complete when Gaudi was killed in a vehicle accident in 1926, after working on this form 1883.
The main theme was to have a central nave, and three main facades; Nativity, Passion and Glory (not yet done). Nativity is the most ornate and detailed, and the Passion has simple lines and somewhat abstract figurines/sculptures imbedded into the concrete works. The roof was to has 18 spires planned by Gaudi, of which eight have been built so far.
Entry is 12 Euro and it is open 9-6PM Oct-Mar and 9-8PM in summer months. The lines waiting to get in are at least 1-1/12 hours, and personally I would not wait for that memory. It is totally packed outside with people surrounding the city block it encompasses, and walking around with vehicle traffic, people, and shops is for the wary and weary.
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