Spirit Interrupted: La Sagrada Familia

*If you want to tour La Sagrada Familia, buy tickets in advance. You’ll still have to line up, but you’ll be in the faster line: http://www.sagradafamilia.org/en/tickets/

Picture it: you’ve finally entered the doors of the truly magnificent Sagrada Familia, the Gaudi masterpiece that has been under construction since 1882 and will, upon completion in what they hope will be 2026 to mark the centenary of Gaudi’s death, be the crowning jewel of Barcelona, and you’re greeted by the most gorgeous stained-glass windows, towering sculpted columns, and the crackles of a bad sound system pumping out Ave Maria battling a chorus of jackhammers.

A spiritual experience indeed:

Now, don’t let our bad luck dissuade you from going. I’m sure the jackhammers aren’t hammering all the time (and perhaps they’ve upgraded their sound system?) and you can also do a guided tour and see the view from the towers. But what I’m saying is, if you didn’t feel like standing in line to get in, you’d be fine to admire the church exterior, for one could spend hours poring over the incredible detail of the gothic architecture.

If you do happen to venture inside, be aware that the expectations aroused outside are not fulfilled exactly inside, jackhammers notwithstanding. While the windows, columns, layout, and sheer height of the space are truly remarkable, the abstract forms (to represent trees and branches) and polished concrete look of the church differs greatly from the entrance and dark, gothic tones of the exterior facades. Of course, our biased memory is marred by the noise and the desire to leave immediately, so perhaps we’ll feel differently if we’re ever to visit again, but the Barcelona Cathedral left a much more lasting impression.

But since construction has relied on private donations since it began, they will probably still be needing quite a few of us to pony up the funds to visit to assist the completion, but it stays off our recommended Bucket List visits for now. If you happen to be in Barcelona and have very limited time, we would recommend first visiting Gaudi’s Park Güel, the Gaudi House, the Barcelona Cathedral, the Gothic Quarter, and, of course, the beach!

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