I could have spent DAYS at the Basilica Sagrada Família here in Barcelona, and even more days at the Sagrada Família shop! It is the most visited tourist attraction in Spain, with more than 3 million visitors per year. Designed by Antoni Gaudi in 1885, it has been in a state of construction for 130 years. However, as our guide Alberto told us, many of those years were years of procrastination, where nothing got done. But now, the noise of construction is constant and normal. He said when he first started doing tours thirty years ago, there was no nave, no nave ceiling, only just a façade. But now, after doing many tours here with the construction much further along, he felt like a real estate agent! Someone on our tour asked, “But who is paying for all this construction?” Alberto laughed and said, “You are! through your entrance tickets!”
The exterior of the building is part structure and part sculpture, and the interior is very contemporary, both in the stained glass and the 18 bell towers designed to look like a forest of trees. The concept of making the interior contemporary is not without controversy, but we are, after all, living in the 21st century, not the 19th century.
There is only a very small pipe organ which is behind the altar, and Alberto said it was only 400 pipes, and unusual for its placement. Normally, the pipe organ would be in the back, along the long axis.
This is what the basilica looked like in 1908— basically just a façade. It has come a LONG way since then.
Since the basilica is not yet finished the dress code is more relaxed. Tomorrow, though, when we visit the monastery, we can have no bare shoulders, and shorts must be at knee level or below. Sometime I would like to revisit Spain when it is not so hot. Daytime temperatures are in the high nineties—luckily our hotel is air-conditioned, but that doesn’t help when we are walking around.