The first thing we did in Barcelona was visit one of the city's biggest tourist attractions: the Sagrada Familia.
The cathedral, which has been under construction since 1882 is one of Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi's most internationally renowned buildings. It's known for incorporating natural details and influences in an incredibly intricate design. The construction of the Sagrada Familia has been funded entirely by donations and all ticket sales from tourist visits go toward funding the cathedral's completion. After Gaudi's death in 1926, the building was only 15%-25% complete, and with the onset of the Spanish Civil War and World War Two in the middle of the century, much of the original plans and models for the building have been lost. Luckily, with the help of photographs, today's designers can reconstruct most of Gaudi's vision. Where there are holes in the plans, contemporary designers have added their own creative touches. With the building still under construction, every visit to the Cathedral is unique and visitors are bound to see some new addition that wasn't there the week before. I can't wait to go back in a few years and see how the Sagrada Familia has grown.
The cathedral ceiling was designed to look light a forest canopy. When finished, light will stream in from above as if through the gaps between branches and leaves.
Looking toward the alter with a view of the light coming down from what will be known as Mary's Tower. The Tower itself has yet to be built, but the base and the skylight are complete.
If you can handle heights and a very narrow set of spiral stairs, a trip up one of the towers is a must. I climbed up on the Nativity Facade and snapped this picture of the city on the narrow bridge between the two central towers. An elevator takes you up to the top in a matter of seconds, but the only way back is over the bridge and down a very long set of stairs.
Besides the view, another great thing about a trip up to the towers in that you get to see all kinds of interesting parts of the Church's exterior up close as you walk back down. In the photo above you can see a completed part of the facade with the construction underneath. I'm still very very high up at this point and would never have been able to see this detail from the ground. I'm not a fan of heights, but the views were worth pushing past a little bit of fear. Never-the-less, I was glad to be back on solid ground to snap a couple more photos of the interior
Before heading to the gift shop, we stopped to take one last photo in front of the Sagrada Familia's newest addition, installed earlier that week. This door was designed by Japanese sculptor Etsuro Sotoo and is a beautiful example of Gaudi's influence on the next generation of designers and their desire to honour Gaudi's vision for the cathedral.
If you're in Barcelona, you can't skip a trip to the Sagrada Familia. The building is truly a masterpiece and a piece of living artwork that continues to change as it grows in step with the times.
For more information and to book advance tickets visit: www.sagradafamilia.cat
I highly recommend purchasing advance tickets to avoid the crazy lines and crowds of people. A guided tour is also worth the extra couple of euros and is only an hour long, giving you plenty of time to explore!