This past summer, I took a mini-grand tour of Europe with some friends, our last stop was Barcelona. After having sat through two semesters of Historical Styles in college, I was eager to see all the architecture that I had learned about. My friends were International Business and Sports Management majors, so I excitedly explained to them what I knew about each of the many architectural landmarks that we saw on our trip. However, all three of us were equally surprised by the grandeur of La Sagrada Família.
Barcelona with La Sagrada Familia in the distance
Antoni Gaudi, whose architecture is spread throughout the city of Barcelona from Palau Güell to Casa Batlló, began working on La Sagrada Familia in 1883.
The main entrance to La Sagrada Familia
Upon entering the basilica (the interior of which is completed), we learned that the original construction is still going on, and has taken so long due to lack of original funding, and a halt to construction during the Spanish Civil War. Gaudi himself was killed by a tram while fundraising for the project. Although it is not yet complete, La Sagrada Familia is already of massive proportions, with an exterior that serves no lack of detail or originality. Each façade has incredibly detailed carvings and scenes from Jesus’ life. The towers bare carvings covered in colored glass, traditional to many of Gaudi’s works, representing fruits and vegetables.
Towers with fruit and vegetable tops
Upon entering the massive structure, the first thing we did was look up. The height of the space was spectacular, but that was just about the only thing that reminded me of a typical place of worship. It was completely different from any other church, basilica, or cathedral I had ever seen. The interior was flooded with colorful natural light streaming in from large stained glass windows.
The nave ceiling
Stained glass windows on one side of the basilica
The columns were not the usual classical or gothic columns that I was used to seeing in cathedrals. The space is meant to mimic a forest and celebrate nature, with the columns resembling trees. There is so much to see inside the cathedral, from the floral windows, to the emblems of different animals on the tops of the columns, to the sunbeams carved into the columns, details abound!
View from the altar
The apse with light from the stained glass windows
The altar and crucifix
For anyone visiting Barcelona, a trip to La Sagrada Familia is a must! It is scheduled to be completed in 2026 with 18 spires.