It’s my personal opinion that some famous tourist sites around the world are packed to the gills for essentially no reason. They aren’t that great of places, but they’ve been hyped to the extreme. Everyone empties their wallets to get in anyway, just so they can snap a #selfie and overcome their #FOMO.
The Sagrada Familia is NOT one of those places. It is awe-inspiring and magical and looks like something straight out of a Harry Potter book.
(Except, you know, with more Jesus.)
Construction began in 1882, and it’s still not finished. This beauty is a 100+ year work in progress, with at least 20 more years to go. Despite this, it has already been proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Plans are largely based off of the work of Antoni Gaudí, a (now-famous) Catalan architect, who was in charge of the project until his death in 1926. Obviously, despite this setback, construction has still continued, with an attempt to stay true to Gaudí’s original vision.
It’s truly humbling from the outside. You stand there and it’s hard to focus on just one area. Your eyes dart along the porticos and spires at a million miles an hour trying to take it all in, and your brain goes into overload.
For a few euros more, the audioguide helps you appreciate the details in smaller, more digestible chunks (and tells your brain where to focus your eyeballs).
The Nativity Façade is fancy and super detailed. It was the first (of what will eventually be three façades) to be completed. It’s dedicated to the birth of Jesus, and thus, is ornately decorated with elements celebrating nature and life. Flowers and chameleons and tortoises, y’all. Check it out.
The Passion Façade, in contrast, is bare and austere, with harsh lines and little decoration. It is supposed to resemble the bones of a skeleton. This façade is symbolic of the death of Christ.
Honestly, just circling the outside of the building is pretty awesome.
But omg, that feeling when you walk in the entrance is unreal. Gaudí was super inspired by nature, and designed the pillars to look like trees, with small patches of light shining through the building like the sun filtering down through the leaves.
But let’s zoom out a little bit more to see the full effect of THOSE STAINED GLASS WINDOWS. Like for real.
You can also pay more to go up a tower of the Sagrada Familia (which is an item on our Travel Bucket List, that can now be crossed off.) We chose the Nativity Tower. You step into a tiny circular elevator (fits about 5 people standing uncomfortably close to each other), and it zooms you to the top. You get beautiful views of the structure itself, as well as the surrounding the city.
I’m talking about views like this, which make me feel like a behind-the-scenes VIP with the inside scoop.
And views like this, that take my breath away and make me feel invincible for the two minutes that I’m standing there.
Hi, little ant people. I’m playing a game where I pretend to squish you between my fingers.
You even get to cross a teeny bridge (with safety wires) that connect two of the towers. In the middle, you can stand there with your arms raised up to be a human spire at the tippy top of the Sagrada Familia!
When you’re finished taking in the views of the city, and have squished lots of ant people, and made your body into a temporary part of the coolest church in Europe, you climb down a skinny spiral staircase.
It’s a pretty long way down. (Think about the towers you saw in the first photos and how tall they were, and then think of how many stairs you would have to go down to get back to ground level.)
We started making our way down (this very, very long staircase) right behind an entertaining Scottish family. The mom was completely freaking out, apparently afraid of heights and having to force herself to take trembling lil baby steps down the narrow, winding passageway. Though a part of me wanted to ask her if she did ANY RESEARCH AT ALL to know what she was getting herself into, her accent and mannerisms made this all pretty hilarious instead of annoying.
And after a few more circles around the tiny central beam and down the stairs, her son said he would distract her from her fears. He started singing in beat with her footsteps, “Snape. Snape. Severus Snape… Dumbledore!” (See full soundtrack below.)
So then this awe-inspiring and magical building with its ornate décor and tiny winding staircase looked like something straight out of a Harry Potter Book… and sounded like something straight out of The Potter Puppet Pals.
And I was weirdly okay with that.