I woke up before sunrise in Barcelona because I had reserved the earliest time slot to tour Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia. You’ll be happy to know that there is no need to wake up that early to stand in line for the earliest reservation. I quickly discovered that as soon as the gates open, all hell breaks loose (no pun intended!) and a stampede of fellow visitors behind you will trample you if you dare miss a step! I have no idea how the people behind me ended up ahead of me; they’ve apparently visited Sagrada Familia before! And, besides, I realized that once you’re inside the basilica, nobody is photographing the ground. Everyone is looking upwards where the views are, so pro photographers can rest assured that, for the most part, their images will not be ruined by people with large heads running in front of you ruining your shot. Relax! I wish I had known that; instead, I arrived on full tactical alert. The only thing missing was me dressed in full camouflage gear. What a goof I was!
I considered attempting to explain the background, design, and symbolism of this magnificent Roman Catholic church, but I realize that any description I would offer would sound amateurish at best considering the numerous books have been written about it. Here is an overview of Sagrada Familia if you are so inclined to discover more about it. Basilica de la Sagrada Familia
I had heard and read about other people’s reactions to visiting this church, but I now realize that you will never appreciate the sheer magnitude of this brilliant piece of architecture until you are inside the church viewing it for yourself. Sitting down at one of the chairs and looking at the altar brought me to tears. (Anybody who knows me knows that this is a typical emotional reaction of mine when I am deeply touched by something.) To give you an idea of the scale of its interior, this is a composite of four photomerged images of the altar. Note the proportion of the man in the bottom left-hand corner of this image to understand the scope of what was in front of me.
Below is a view of the ceiling looking up…
…with a side-view detail of the altar shown below.
I have to admit that I love this image below because of the detail that my lens captured. I rented a 23mm f/1.4 lens for this trip, and it’s super sharp from top to bottom, corner to corner! This is a composite of two photomerged images.
And here is the same wall photographed from another angle. Perhaps this image will give you an indication of how high the statue is from the floor.
While I was wandering through the church, I noticed that there were beautiful stained-glass windows along both lengths of the church. The brilliant colors of the panels were being thrown across onto the walls and across the walkway onto the adjacent columns from the early morning sun. It was magnificent! This was a difficult image to capture, however, because it was very dark in this part of the church. You can see from my other pictures that the stained glass reflected their colors well past the columns and onto various areas of the interior of the church. While I was researching the stained glass for this blog post, I found a website created in 2012 where the blogger commented that the stained glass panels had not been installed yet. From www.idelish.com, look at the difference between how the church looked a few years ago and today!
I had to walk up several steps to capture the organ below in its entirety. Again, to give you an indication of the scale of the organ, there was a man in another image at the top of his head grazing the bottom of this image’s edge. In other words, it’s gigantic!
I had made a second reservation to travel up to the top of the Nativity Tower. There was a bit of a line to take the elevator up to the top. While standing on the steps leading up to it, I felt dizzy because I have a terrible sense of balance, which means that I have both a terrible sense of balance AND direction. I’m a mess as a solo traveler…I have no one to grab on to and follow! The cattywampus image below of the ceiling in that waiting area shows you just how dizzy I was, but I was thrilled that I had at least been able to capture it!
Sagrada Familia has been under construction since March 19, 1882, and its completion is set for 2026. Why is construction taking so long? Check out the detail below which demonstrates the painstaking and meticulous work of the construction crew. This particular vantage point is not visible from the street, yet each leaf is an individually hand-set tile, beautiful mosaics were inlaid on the back side of this green tiled tree, complete with brickwork with the word “Sanctus” applied in bas-relief, and a detailed pieced dove. Who could conceive of a project of this magnitude? Obviously, it is from the mind of a genius, Antoni Gaudí. Check out how high up it is from the city!
Shown below is a bird’s eye view of my Barcelona room. The home I was staying at is to the right of the green awnings across from the park. I didn’t know that my room was this well situated because my host, Silvia, had just moved to this location before my arrival. Behind this set of buildings is Gaudi Avenue, which is lovely to walk along with many outdoor restaurants to choose from.
I had no idea that the only way down from the tower was to walk down a narrow-width staircase around the tower. The tower had many window cutouts which overlooked the city. While they were wonderful to look through, stopping to look out the openings held up the rest of the visitors who were hot on my heels trying to make their way down as well. I thought I was clever by throwing my camera over one of the openings in the tower so I would be the only person photographing the tower from this vantage point. Imagine my dismay when I returned home and discovered another photographer photographing the same image in the upper left-hand corner of this image below. Bummer….so much for my originality! Hopefully, the quality of his image turned out better than my poor image.
There was a female photographer behind me who stopped whenever I did to take a photograph. Towards the bottom of the stairwell, she and I began chatting. I told her that I wasn’t accustomed to Spain’s humid weather because I live in California. She said that she and her husband had moved to England, but that he was from Southern California and missed living there. Her husband was waiting at the bottom of the stairs for her. I introduced myself and asked him where he had lived in California. He started out by saying that I might not know the area, but when he told me the city and the intersecting streets, it turned out that he had lived on the same street I currently live at! His townhome complex was in the middle of our block. How does a coincidence like that even happen? It was pretty crazy hearing him tell me that.
Trust me when I tell you that I have many images of the exterior of the church, but I will spare you and show only one. This mournful sculpture below of the apostle Peter after he denied Christ three times is a hauntingly brilliant depiction from the bible.
The Basilica de la Sagrada Familia has posted a video of what Sagrada Familia will look like when construction is complete. I’m staying in good health, so I can tour the basilica at that time!
I had left word for Frank Hartman, who was my fellow roommate at Silvia’s home, that I was going to see a flamenco show at Palau Dalmases on my final evening in Barcelona, a performance that Silvia highly recommended. I was thrilled that Frank decided to attend it with me so, with Frank leading the way, off we went on the metro and through the Gothic Quarter to see it together. Frank, you’re a champ! You saw firsthand on two separate occasions that I have zero sense of direction. I love how you were able to get me there and back! And, as a side note, Frank is your man if you need a personal injury attorney! The Harman Law Firm
With our being seated in the front row of an intimate and dark venue, the flamenco show was outstanding. The dancers demonstrated both vitality…
From the intensity onstage…
…to the passion of flamenco.
This day was the perfect way to end a fabulous trip to Spain.