The Essence of La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia must be seen to be believed. Photographs do it some justice (even my amateur snaps), but its essence is felt when standing in the thick of it all. From its intricate stonework (those detailed facades!), to its Gothic stained glass windows, to the high bell towers, to the vertigo-inducing spiral staircase, you’ll be filled with wonder… and in need of a sit down after being overly stimulated.

Spiral Staircase

Gaudi’s grand vision is easy to spot from any high point in Barcelona. I saw it from the rooftop of Casa Mila, another one of his landmarks. La Sagrada Familia does not impose. Rather, it watches over Barcelona and is emblematic of the city’s beauty.

Overarched by the Casa Mila, La Sagrada Familia stands tall in the background

As exquisite as La Sagrada Familia seems to one person, there have been naysayers including renowned artists.

For Picasso, Gaudi’s famous church, the Sagrada Familia, was something of a joke – more to Salvador Dali’s taste, he once commented, than his. In the living room in La Californie there used to be an enormous panettone that mice had reduced to a ruin: ‘Gaudi’s model,’ he would say.*

George Orwell thought it to be one of the ugliest buildings he had ever seen and “wondered why the Anarchists hadn’t wrecked it in the Civil War”.**

The decorative canopy of La Sagrada Familia’s interior

The church “could be finished some time in the first third of the 21st century”, states La Sagrada Família website. The final result will be a variation of the artist’s vision. Though the aforementioned Anarchists had spared the building during the Civil War, in 1936 they had set fire to the crypt and destroyed the models, plans, drawings and photos in Gaudi’s former workshop. Construction continues based on those reconstructed plans. For some, there’s comfort in the thought that Gaudi watches over the building’s progress. In 1926, he was buried in the Carmen Chapel in the crypt of La Sagrada Família, where his remains still lie today.

*Taken from ‘Gaudi. A Biography.’ by Gijs Van Hensbergen ** ‘Barcelona’s 25 Best’ by Fodor’s

Amazing photos can be found within the blogs below:

Barcelona: La Sagrada Familia | Amy Davies

La Sagrada Familia photoblog by Angelo Samarawickrema.

The Nativity Facade


22 thoughts on “The Essence of La Sagrada Familia

    • Thank you for your comment! And yes – Why not? La Sagrada Familia will continue its construction for a while yet and maybe you’ll see it when completed fully! I have seen many churches and this is one of those that leaves you in awe. Even from a distance it has an aura.

  1. Hello Marina – your lovely images of Sagrada Familia transported me back in time, when I visited Barcelona several years ago. Thank you! Seeing Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece was really a highlight of my trip – I loved his natural elements – the snail shell-like staircase, etc. Beautiful!

    So happy that you stumbled upon my Bali images so that I could in turn discover your site. Hope to see you again. Until then, happy travels!

    • Thank you so much Tricia. La Sagrada Familia was the highlight of our trip too. What an artist, to have visioned this and actually made it structurally possible. Yes, I am looking forward to following your site to see images of your travels. Thank you!

  2. My favourite Gaudi work is by far Casa Batllo. I must admit that I have a bit of fascination with skulls – in terms of architecture, which I believe is amazing – and Gaudi managed to beautifully translate this architecture into this organic-like house. But it’s true, Sagrada is something completely different than anything I’ve seen and it’s right up there, in my top buildings. Great photographs indeed, congratulations!

    • Hi! Thanks for your comment – another Gaudi fan! Yes, Sagrada Familia is mind boggling in person. Furthermore, reading about the planning that Gaudi put into is fascinating. I referenced a book on the post about Gaudi by Gijs Van Hensbergen that gives a good overview. That said, I didn’t get to Casa Batllo and only saw its exterior – so now I can’t wait to return! I have alot more to see of Gaudi’s – I have yet to post on Parc Guell and Casa Mila 🙂

  3. A blogger and a photog. When I get to Spain, I plan to duplicate that picture of the staircase… gorgeous! So glad you commented on my blog so that I was able to find yours.

    • Thank you! (that pic was taken with my point and shoot Sony!). The staircase can be taken in an amazing number of ways and I can’t wait to see your photos of it. Just a tip about La Sagrada – it’s pretty busy (well, it was in May) so we got there at 8.30 am and stood in line for a bit. Just make sure that when you buy your ticket for entry, also ask for the ticket to take the elevator up the towers (as they are two separate tix). Then you can walk down and all around the towers. Awesome views from the top as you can take alot of panoramic pics of the city from up there. And In the blog I mentioned Casa Mila and Montjuic (you can use the double decker for both) – they have great photo opp’s of the city too. Happy to help. Hopefully I’ll save you some time, navigating around the city!

      • I love these little tips! Ill add it to my list of things to remember. Maybe I can get them all organized on the flight across the pond. 🙂 Any information on Operas or other events during the holidays? We’re flying over December 26th and staying until January 3rd. I’m still researching what’s available specifically during those times.

      • you need to start a list (pen to paper!) We did see a flamenco show that was pretty cool at the Palau de Musica – a STUNNING building in the Gothic Quarter though I would have needed a DSLR to take photos that would do that building justice. Take a look at what they have going on. As I have never been over NYE, I would recommend checking out Time Out Barcelona online and also Lonely Planet’s Thorn tree. You can ask specific questions on there and people may answer (even people native to the country – I used it…5 years ago!!… and it really helped me plan my year abroad from Australia to Canada). If anything grabs my attention though, i will let you know!

  4. Love these! Once in Barcelona I overheard a guy telling a couple that going inside the Sagrada Familia wasn’t worth it. He could not be more wrong!! Even as an unfinished construction zone it is literally breathtaking.

    • Wow – that’s a very opinionated man! Though there have been the naysayers. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – and general consensus of La Sagrada Familia is that it’s so beautiful!! Thank you for your comment 🙂

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