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Things to do in The Sagrada Familia
British writer George Orwell described the Sagrada Familia as “one of the most hideous buildings in the world” and hoped it would be destroyed during the Spanish Civil War. Artist Salvador Dali said the cathedral had a “terrifying and edible beauty.”
Its architect Antoni Gaudi famously said, “My client is in no hurry.” (His ‘client’ was God.) Though begun in 1882, the Sagrada Familia was incomplete when Gaudi was hit by a tram and killed in 1926. The building is not expected to be finished until 2026, when it will become the world’s tallest church at 560ft (170m).
Today, more than 2.5 million people visit the church each year, their tickets contributing to the on-going project. Gaudi would be pleased. “A church,” he said, is “the only thing worthy of representing the soul of a people, for religion is the most elevated reality in man.” Pope Benedict XVI repeated these words at the cathedral’s dedication on 7 November 2010.
- 9.00am-6.00pm – November to February
- 9.00am-7.00pm – March
- 9.00am-8.00pm – April to September
- 9.00am-7.00pm – October
- 9.00-2.00pm – December 25,26 and January 1,6
Last tickets sold 15 minutes before closing
About the cathedral
Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia is said to be an example of Gothic architecture, but it is actually a modification and development of the form unique to its architect.
For Gaudi, the Gothic form was too limiting in the strictly structural sense. He used models to experiment with new and alternative solutions while being influenced both by Christianity and forms found in nature. Look carefully at his buildings and you see shell-like swirls, tree branches, animal scales, feathers and waves.
In terms of church architecture, however, the Expiatory Cathedral of the Sagrada Familia is relatively standard: a central nave with four aisles and transepts forming a Latin cross, the top of which is closed by a semi-circular apse. The uniqueness is in the spires and monumental facades, each representing an event of Christ’s life: his birth, passion, death and resurrection, and his glory.
The original plan was for a group of 18 towers: 12 shorter bell towers on the facades (representing the apostles), and six central taller ones (symbolic of their hierarchy). When completed, the tallest, at 566 ft, will represent Jesus Christ and will be surrounded by four, thinner, 443ft towers representing the evangelists.
Much has been written about the cathedral being perpetually unfinished, but it’s said Gaudi knew he would never live to see its completion. His goal was to make a bold start, expecting that his dream – once started – would have to be finished by others.
Carrer de la Marina, Barcelona
- By Metro
- Line 2 and Line 5 Sagrada Familia
- By bus
- 19, 33, 34, 43, 44, 50, 51, B20 and B24
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