There are some key dates in the on-going construction of La Sagrada Familia, one of Barcelona's or perhaps Spain's most important attractions.
Work started way back 1882 when the first stone was laid. At that time Francesc del Villar was the project leader but he soon resigned after some disagreements with the religious founders of the church.
In 1883, Antoni Gaudi, a yuppie of his time, then appears on the scene and is given the position as chief architect and proceeds to dedicate the next 40 years of his life to the project.
Work goes on and in 1889 the crypt and the chapels that surround it are completed, one of them will eventually be used as Gaudi's tomb.
By 1904 the Nativity Façade is completed and images of Jesus, Mary and Joseph can be seen on it surrounded by angels.
21 years later...... wow things went slow in those days..... in 1925 they completed the first of the 18 bell towers which is an amazing 100 meters tall.
Gaudi was then killed by a tram while crossing a street in 1926 after only completing between 15 and 25 per cent of the church. Barcelona, or rather the whole of Spain, lost one of their most famous and talented architects.
Work continued under the direction of Domènec Sugrañes i Gras until it was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War in 1936 which brought construction to a halt for 20 years! Gaudi's studio and the cript were burnt by Catalan anarchists that were against the Catholic church because it sided with the Spanish nationalists.
Since 1940 the architects Francesc Quintana, Isidre Puig Boada, Lluís Bonet i Gari and Francesc Cardoner have worked on itand from 1987 to 1990 an artist called Josep Maria Subirachs started living in it, just as Gaudi did and he managed to complete the Passion Façade. His sculptures are almost “Star Wars” looking and if you have a Good News Bible, you will see that they are very reminisent of its illustrations. He has received critisism but also praise for what he did.
On the 31st of September 2000 the nave was at last completed.
Pope Benedict XVI consecrated la Sagrada Familia as a basilica on the 7 November 2010 in front of a congregation of 6,500 people.
The building should be completed by 2026, on the centennial of Gaudi's death. It will have 18 towers, 12 dedicated to the apostles, 4 to the evangelists, one to Jesus and another to Mary.
To build this amazing church they rely only on donations, just as Gaudi wanted it. There are thousands and thousands of paying visitors going to see it every month so money is just pouring in and the construction work is progressing very well and is also now being done with the help of Computers which is accelerating the construction of the building enormously.
They say that if 20th century building techniques were still to be used it would take several hundred years to complete La Sagrada Familia. Stone can now be shaped off-site by milling machines and does not have to be carved by hand anymore.
La Sagrada Familia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and when you see it you will know why.
So that's a little bit of the history, let's move on...
The Nativity Façade demonstrates Gaudi's love of nature, over 100 plant and animal species have been carved int the stone, look out for the turtles that support the two main columns.
Passion Façade represents the pain and sacrifice made by Jesus. It is very different to Gaudi's original work, being more Gothic than Gaudi's intricate style. Here you will also find the cryptogram.... all the number add up to the age of Christ at the time of his death!
The Spiral Staircases of La Sagrada Familia that wind their way up the bell towers are an absolute rush, I loved them....continue up to the top but don't use them if you are claustrophobic or have a problem with heights.... you will not like them! You can use the lifts but that will cost you 2€. The views are great and you can get a good look at the gargoyles and the mosaic tiling on the spires.
The Nave is the huge central part of La Sagrada Familia and has almost been finished. It has immense leaning tree-like columns with branches that spread out to support the ceiling making it look like a beautiful stone forest.
The Crypt Museum has audiovisual exhibits and loads of information on the construction of the church. The maquette workshop is very interesting, this is where scale models are made from stone and plaster. You will also find the hanging model here which was created by Gaudi as a model for the arches and vaulted ceilings of the crypt. It is made up of chains and small weighted sacks and gave him a 3D view of what he wanted to do. Gaudi's tomb is also in the crypt and can be seen from the museum.
The apse was the first part to be completed by Gaudi and is decorated with huge snails, lizards and snakes.
You will find surprisingly modern images in the Rosedoor Cloister which is said to have been inspired by the anarchist riots that began in 1909. The Devil's temptation of man can be seen represented by snake wound around a bomb wielding anarchist.
La Sagrada Familia is always busy, you may have to stand and wait in a queue to get in, but it is worth it, so be patient, you will not regret it.
The entrances to the Sagrada Familia are on C/Marina and C/Sardenya.
The closest Metro station is "Sagrada Familia" on the blue line (5).
It is open from 9am to 6pm every day from October to March and from 9am to 8pm from April to September.
Tickets cost 12€ to 16€ and include a guided tour.
The guided tours of La Sagrada Familia are at 11am, 1pm, 3pm and 5pm daily from May to October and at 11am and 1pm daily from November to April.
GET THERE EARLY AS THEY ARE VERY POPULAR AND LIMITED.
La Sagrada Familia is surrounded by gift shops and restaurants, there are traditional restaurants, KFC, MacDonalds, Starbucks, Irish pubs, local bars etc...
One thing to keep in mind is that I noticed that ice-creams seem to get quite a lot cheaper the further away from the Sagrada Familia you go.... strange but true.
I have been there several times, it is unsophisticated but the food is GOOD! It is a self-service shell-fish restaurant, rather like a traditional market, you choose what you want to eat from the ice, they cook it and you collect it. This is a great place to enjoy seafood at really good prices.
Passatge Simó 18
93 450 01 91
This Basque restaurant is not cheap but the "chuleton" (steak) sizzling on a hot stone tastes great!! The fish dishes and starters are also amazing.
C/ ROSSELLÓ, 365
934 59 40 25
I highly recommend that you take a walk up the Avinguda Gaudi. There are more restaurants and shops, but the highlight is when you reach the end... El Hospital de Sant Pau, it is a beautiful building, that together with the Palau de la Música, was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1997.
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