The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

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The transept ceiling of the Sagrada Familia.

I usually don't use the very widest lens I have, but sometimes, when there's so much going on, I can't resist. Gaudi, and his successors, have created probably the most interesting church in the world. I could try to wax elegant, but it would be superfluous.

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This is what windows are supposed to be like.

I visited the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona the first time in 1975. It is hard to believe it's been 40 years since this place basically changed my whole idea of what a church and what architecture could be.

When we first visited so long ago, the church was much more of a construction site than a church. Now, although it's still covered in scaffolding both in and out, and spouts several cranes that are still erecting and putting the finishing touches on the exterior, the inside is mostly finished. And while the exterior is a rather uniform gray except for the tower tops, the inside is lit by a riotous bunch of multicolored windows.

The sun streaming through them gives a rainbow effect to the mostly white interior, which I hope you can appreciate here.

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Windows and columns, 1
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Organ and more windows.
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The yellows blues and greens.
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I love the blues.
tower stairway sagrada familia Barcelona
I like the black and white to emphasize the pure Gaudian geometry.

Antoní Gaudí, the architect of Barcelona's Sagrada Familia cathedral, called himself a geometrician. Perhaps he was selling himself a bit short by not saying he was a great artist who used geometry. But, when you go to the Sagrada Familia, you're struck not only by the runaway whimsy of the place, but also by it's basic framework of whirls based upon hyperbolic shapes everywhere you look. Also, while the outside of the place seems overly massive in spots, the inside is all light and air created by the ingenious structure which admits so much light.

There is a segment done by the American television news program 60 Minutes, which provides some nice background if you're not familiar with this amazing bit of architectural history.

The Sagrada Familia and other works of Antoní Gaudi in Barcelona are components of a Unesco World Heritage site. Here's a list of all Unesco sites in Spain. The Sagrada Familia is also one of our 12 Great Cathedrals of Spain.

Click this link to see our post about our best ten recommendations for things to see and do in Barcelona.

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20 thoughts on “The Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona”

  1. I am in AWE. 40 years of construction and still not done. In America, we can’t wait 3 minutes for a hamburger. God bless the Barcelonians.

  2. Thanks for these great photos. It brought back memories of my visit to Sagrada Familia Basilica a couple of years ago. The story of the building of the church and the architecture itself is amazing. In spite of all the people touring through the building, I found the inside to be a very calm and peaceful place.

    • You are right, Donna. It’s an amazingly spiritual place. You can almost feel the zeal of Gaudi as you admire his amazing work. This is my favorite church, because, I think, you can feel the connection with this amazing artist and bask, however periferally, in his genius.

  3. Beautiful! Thank you for taking the time to share while you are traveling! It has been 8 years since I have visited La Sagrada Familia – I can’t wait to get back! Enjoy!

    • Anita, be sure to book online in advance or you’ll be standing in line for hours. There’s so much to see in Barcelona. My other favorite spot is the Museum of Catalan Art in the old royal palace. Don’t miss that. It has a lot of the frescoes from the Romanesque churches of the Catalan Pyrenees. Spectacular stuff.

  4. Like you, I last visited this church in 1992-ish when there really wasn’t much of an ‘interior’ at all, just two end facades and a bunch of construction going on in between. I’m dying to go back, and if it doesn’t happen before, I plan to be there in 2026 when it is completed – ish!

    • I’m definitely planning to be here in 2026, just so I can get a good look at the place without cranes and scaffolding. I’m also looking forward to see what they’re going to fill all the interior niches with. That’s going to be a lot of amazing sculpture.

    • The Sagrada Familia is only one of the reasons Barcelona is such a magical place. My other fave is the Palau de la Musica. Have you been there? Another great example of modernist architecture.

      • We were in Barcelona for only two days after our Mediterranean Cruise in 2013. I wish we would have had a whole week. We did not see the Palau de la Musica, but we did see Park Guell and La Pedrera and LOVED them both. And Montserrat!!! OMG!! I interrupted my blog about the cruise to post about a recent trip around Wisconsin (my home state), but now I want to get back to it so I can post my pictures of Barcelona!! May I link back to your videos? The 60 minutes one was FABULOUS!


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