Visit the Sagrada Familia Cathedral

Gaudi's masterpiece, the jaw-dropping Sagrada Familia Cathedral (Church of the Holy Family), has to be seen to believed. Gaudi envisioned the building as a "people's cathedral" and a "Bible made of stone" where the average person could learn the history, and experience the mysteries of the Catholic faith.

When Pope Benedict consecrated the cathedral in November 2010, he described it as a cathedral built inside out. The outside is decorated with items typically found inside a cathedral such as altar pieces, imagery and sculptures celebrating Christ's life. The inside evokes a feeling of outdoor open space with tree-trunk like columns, soaring ceilings, stained glass that mirrors the colors of the sun and sky and imagery taken from nature, such as plants, birds and animals.

The cathedral is designed around the three major stages of Jesus' life:

His Birth - The Nativity Facade. Constructed between 1894 and 1930.

His Death - The Passion Facade. Constructed between 1954 and 1987 from Gaudi's designs after his death.

The Glory Facade - His Resurrection. Construction began in 2002.

For up-to-date pricing information and hours, visit the Sagrada Familia website. To avoid the lines, make sure you buy your ticket online from the website.

For a quick "cheat sheet" or highlights to read before your visit, continue reading below.

Sagrada Familia Fast Facts and Highlights

Life of Gaudi - At 31 years old, Gaudi was a rich, Barcelona celebrity who spent his time designing houses for his super wealthy acquaintances. He had his heart-broken when two women rejected his marriage proposals and a crisis of faith. He became a devout catholic, gave away his money, and spent the last 40 years of his life working on the Sagrada Familia Cathedral.

Gaudi viewed his work on the Cathedral as a sacred mission from God. He invested all of his remaining funds in the church and lived at the Cathedral work site by himself for 16 years. He constructed craft workshops at the Cathedral to train a skilled workforce to complete the church. Today, loyal Barcelonian craftsman spend a couple of years volunteering at the church after retirement.

Gaudi was crossing a street, deep in thought about the Cathedral when he stepped into the path of a streetcar in 1926. He was so ragged and malnourished that he was mistaken for a homeless pauper. No cab drivers would deliver him to the hospital because they thought he was too poor to pay the fare. When his friends located him in the pauper's hospital, he refused to leave, saying "he always wanted to leave this world poor."

Interesting Facts - In 1936, Anarchists burned and smashed everything - including workshops, plans and models.

The Cathedral is planned to be finished by 2040 - a medieval construction time table of over 100 years from start to finish. Gaudi called himself "God's architect." He joked, "My client is not in a hurry."

Porphyry stone is only natural element strong enough to support the dome.

8 to 12 spires one for each apostle have been built topped with Venetian mosaics.

When finished the topmost tower will be more than 1/2 as tall again as those standing today. The 12 Apostle spires soar at 330 ft. 4 and Mary's spire will be 400 feet high. Jesus' spire will tower over Barcelona and the sea at over be 550 feet high.

Gaudi disliked straight lines and said there were "No straight lines in nature." His tower outlines were inspired by the weird peaks of the Holy Mountains of Montserrat. His sculptures are a natural outgrowth of the stone.

-Eight towers spell out the Latin prayer (Holy, Holy, Holy, Glory to God in the highest - Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, Hosanna in Excelsis). When told that no one could see the writing, Gaudi said, " The angels can."

There are 400 steps in each spiral staircase.

Visit Inside - Make sure to visit Gaudi's simple tomb. Also, visit the museum showing how nature influenced Gaudi (e.g., shells, plants, animals etc.)

View the hanging model showing how Gaudi used gravity to calculate parabolas. Then, peek into the workshop where craftsman are working on the Glory section of the Cathedral. If you are lucky, you'll see the actual sculpturers at work.

Work on the Cathedral is funded entirely by private donations and ticket sales. The more funds raised means that more work will be completed on the Cathedral. In 2009. the construction budget was $19 million.

Famous People's Thoughts on the Sagrada Familia Cathedral

George Orwell - "The Sagrada Familia is the most hideous building in the world."

Jean Cocteau, French film director - Called it an "idea-scraper" instead of a "skyscraper."

Salvador Dali - The Cathedral's turrets are as sensual as a women's skin.

Picasso - Hated it and thought it was a monstrosity.



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