Spanish Series Part II: Segrada Familia, Barcelona

11 Sep

Barcelona is a great city. I encourage anyone considering a trip to Spain to make sure Barcelona is on the agenda for at least 2 or 3 days. We spent 3 days in Barcelona but I could have easily spent all 10 days there. There is so much going on, and while we were there at the end of August, the weather was perfect. And, since the hotel we stayed in (Hosteria Grau) was right off Las Ramblas, we walked pretty much everywhere except to Segrada Familia and Parque Guell. But, both of those places were simple to get to on the train and bus respectively.

Out of all the things we did and saw in Barcelona, Segrada Familia was my favorite. It is a MASSIVE church/cathedral designed by Gaudi.

Segrada Familia soaring over Barcelona - view from Parque Guell

We saw a lot of Gaudi architecture in Barcelona at Parque Guell and a night at his old house, Casa Batllo. I am not typically one who is impressed by architecture, but this isn’t so much architecture as it is art. It’s creative, ornate, based on nature and fascinating.

Gaudi building at Parque Guell

To say Segrada Familia is intricate is SUCH an understatement. They began building this place in the 1800s and IT IS STILL BEING BUILT! Over 120 years later! When I heard this originally, I just thought it sounded like an Egyptian project. Many buildings here are fully functional and used but never actually finished. You see the steel poles sticking out of the roof like they are going to add a couple more stories any day now….but they never do. Apparently, there is a tax loop hole that allows the owner of a building that is still “under construction” to evade property taxes. So, I assumed Segrada Familia had some sort of similar situation.

But, once I got in and took a look around, I was not surprised the place is still being constructed. In fact, I cannot fathom the amount of time and effort it will take to complete it. Every detail in every nook and cranny is so intricate and ornate. Add to that, the sheer size of the place. It already soars high above the skyline, and the tallest steeple is yet to be added! The tallest steeple is going to be TWICE the height of any of the other steeples (of which, there are currently only 8 but will eventually be 18).

As I walked into the church, I looked up and saw the choir lofts that were built to hold up to 1500 singers. I imagined walking in on Easter Sunday morning and hearing 1500 voices singing Halleluiah down upon me and it was impossible not to get goosebumps.

Then, I walked to the Nativity facade, and I was overcome with Christmas cheer – right there in the middle of all those tourists in the August sun. I imagined walking through those doors all lit up by a Christmas vigil for midnight mass, and I thought – “I need to come here for that some day.” The nativity facade was by far my favorite of the three facades. I could stare at it for hours, and I would still probably be missing some amazing detail.

Nativity Facade

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

The Nativity

Then, I walked back in and sat where the congregation will some day sit if it is ever completed. When I looked up, I saw all the pillars that are designed to represent trees in a forest with the light shining in through the leaves, and I thought, “Man, my dad would love this place!”

I could probably ramble on and on about all the amazing things in Segrada Familia (like the purposely un-designed Glory facade. Gaudi purposely left it for future generations to design and leave their mark). But, words do not do it justice. Just go see it. It made me proud to be Catholic. And, honestly, that is a pretty rare feeling for me.


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