Looking at the stained glass windows in Sagrada Familia, you are sometimes almost fooled into thinking you are in a "regular" church. That is until you notice the design of the window frames, the way some of the glass subjects are almost abstract in structure and the surroundings bring you back to where you truly are.
A point that is made when you learn of the windows is that they are composed of differing darknesses of glass, the object of which is to allow light in at varying degrees of intensity. It seems that Gaudi wanted to admit more light, not less. Some glass elements are combined with sunlights to admit and gather sunlight and utilize it as the lighting element as opposed to artifical light.
The structure is still under construction and nothing seems to make that more obvious than the scaffolding outside, but inside you have two things that remind you also. The first and most obvious are the sounds of construction, you may hear a saw or a grinder working away at the structure. But you also have an entire side wall of "stained glass windows" with NO STAINED GLASS", nope, no stained glass, at the moment they are just plain clear glass, waiting for the moment when they will be changed.
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.
I must admit, I didn't know what to think about this place but once here I realized I was standing in front of one of Spain's and in front of one of Europe's masterpieces. The price to get in is 12.50 Euro, the admission price is literally paying for the ongoing construction. It is said that it might be completed by 2025. Once inside there is placards for a self guided tour. The pure size of this place is amazing. We came here at 4:00 pm and there was no line to get in and we spent about 2 hours looking around and never rushed and we were able to see everything ..... we worth it .... The highlight of our trip to Barcelona !!!!!!!
This is a work of architecture a bit too modern and exotic for my taste, but it's a "must see" in Barcelona due to the fact that it was designed by their most famous and important artist/architect: Antoni Gaudi.
I first saw the building while on my bus tour on my 2002 trip, and then I stopped by and paid my ticket to go inside. There wasn't much to see there back then, however: the building was -- and still is -- unfinished and undergoing permanent construction. Apparently it still needed extensive work (i.e. several years) in order to be concluded, and the available funds were a concern. It's a pity it could not be finished by its original author, but they have respected his original design as much as possible and I consider they've made a good job so far.
The church itself has some impressive dimensions; it used to be rather dark inside and you could only see the inner part while climbing to the top of the towers. But I guess the best thing you could get from going up was the view you had of the city, because the inner part was not accessible to the public as it was full of dust and scaffolding, so it wasn't a pretty view anyway. There isn't much room for panoramic viewing, but it is nice to see the town from above.
The external decoration of the church (the sculptures of saints, etc.) is pretty amazing as well: big in size and modern in style. I didn't think it was a very pretty construction but it's Barcelona's symbol after all.... so you may want to take a look at it.
Now, ten years later I wasn't really excited at the idea of going back, but my hubby wanted to see the inside of Sagrada Familia badly, even though we were warned there would be looong lines of people trying to get in. We even tried to buy the tickets from an ATM of La Caixa bank (it is possible, but apparently there are very few tickets available through this means) but we didn't succeed. So we went to visit this place after visiting Parc Guell and other Gaudi buildings and were pleasantly surprised to see a VERY SHORT line (2-3 people) to get in. So we bought our ticket + audio guide (16 EUR the whole thing, which I think is very expensive) because the staff at our hostel recommended taking the tour with the audioguide in order to understand the whole concept of the building, and I think it was pretty informative. And I must say I was utterly surprised to see how much the building had changed in 10 years.
The building is now officially a church and masses can be held in it. The inside is almost totally finished, so people can go in and appreciate the altar, the stained glasses, the building's structure in general. There is A LOT of light and color inside the church nowadays, and nothing is conventional at all. There is a lot of symbolism hidden in the whole building, as it is explained by the audioguide. You can spend some good 2 hours admiring the whole complex and understanding what its creator was trying to do. There even is a small museum attached with models and drawings by Gaudi of what he wanted to achieve, and the construction work continues (now it is more focused in the facades and towers outside), and I think it will continue for many years to come. But it was a pleasant surprise to see that many things have been achieved in these last years.
I don't know about you, but my legs and feet are getting tired. Time for a rest, and I found just the place.
Just across the road from the Sagrada Familia Church is a nice park with a lake and plenty of Park benches. I sat down on one which gave me a nice view of the Church. Plenty of "people" watching kept me entertained until it was time to walk to the Bus stop and continue my onward journey.
The next stop is the Church, and this is where the Bus nearly empties. I didn't get off as I had been here previously on foot at the weekend. The queue was extremely long then and it was still quite long today. Later on, I came back early morning before opening time, and still the queue was quite long. It looks like, if you want to see the inside, what ever time you come, you will have to queue.
I decided looking at it from the outside would have to do, as there was too much I wanted to see in Barcelona.
On the weekend, the street pavement was crowded and there were stalls selling souvenirs. On the weekday, most of the stalls had gone.
I will not add anything about the Church, plenty is already written, but I do say, take your time to walk around and look, it really is an amazing piece of work.
One point of interest.....
This Church has been in the making for 125years and in all this time, it has been constructed only with donations....What a great effort!
Admission in 2011 is 12.50 euro's
Open 9- 6pm October to March & 9 - 8pm April to December