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Monday, November 5, 2018

Barcelona, Spain - La Sagrada Familia

We decided to arrive in Barcelona a couple of days earlier than we needed to.  We were boarding the cruise ship, here in Spain, that would whisk us off to places we've dreamed about seeing for many years.  We arrived in Barcelona early on a Friday morning and we enjoyed many hours of sightseeing.  On Saturday, we had a full day to enjoy this gorgeous city.  Our plan was to do Rick Steves' Las Ramblas self-guided tour but first we were going to see, the highly recommended, La Sagrada Familia, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

We researched and found a bus that would take us to the Sagrada.  We would be able to find it at Placa de Catalunya.  This is where we got dropped off, the day before, by the bus we took from the airport.  It was only a block away from our hotel, Hotel Continental Barcelona, so it was very convenient for us to use this bus to get to the basilica.

When we got to the bus stop, we wanted to make sure we were in the right place.  There was a couple waiting at the stop and they didn't look like they were from Barcelona.  Hopefully they are Americans, we thought, but no, they could not speak to us unless we knew French!  But they were going to see Antoni Gaudi's greatest piece of work, La Sagrada Familia, so our plan was to just follow them when we got off the bus.  It worked perfectly!

We bought tickets online before we left for our vacation.  The tricky part of purchasing entry tickets beforehand is that you have to select a time, in addition to picking the day you want your ticket for.  We weren't sure how long it would take us to get to the Sagrada Familia, and wanted to be sure we were there for our scheduled time so we gave ourselves plenty of time to get there.   We wound up getting there about 45 minutes too early.   But that gave us a chance to walk around and enjoy the outside of the building.  The inside of the building is impressive, but I don't even have the words to describe the outside.  It really takes your breath away the moment you lay eyes on it.

I was so happy to see a shop selling turron as we walked around the church.  They are a nougat candy that I had read we would find in Barcelona and I was hoping to buy some to bring back to our kids.  This shop had many different kinds of turron, in addition to the usual hard or soft variety, in every shape and size.

After a little shopping, it was time to tour the magnificent church.  We were let in and directed to the area where we could pick up our audio tour headsets.  I was so glad we ordered these so we could understand what we were looking at.

Our audio tour had us starting with a look at a model of what La Sagrada Familia will look like when it is finally finished in 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.  We were told, and could see here, that Gaudi's design was made up of eighteen spires representing the twelve apostles, the Virgin Mary, the four Evangelists and the tallest of the spires would represent Jesus Christ.  Presently, 8 of the 18 spires are done.

From the model, we were directed to view the Nativity facade of the building. This is one of three facades which include the Passion and Glory facades.   Gaudi wanted this facade to be on the east side of the building which faces the rising sun.  Gaudi used lots of symbolism throughout this building and here the rising sun represents the birth of Jesus.

Gaudi wanted this facade to be the most attractive and accessible to the public.   It was the only one of the three facades that was completed by Gaudi before his death.  The Nativity facade was my favorite part of the entire building.

Next the tour took us inside the basilica.  The vibrant colors that filled the spacious interior was the first thing I noticed when we entered.   We were also immediately drawn to the altar and to the cross above it.   I have never seen Jesus hanging on his cross the way he was on this one.  It was beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time.

Gaudi put so much thought into every detail of this gorgeous church.  He used nature throughout the building, inside and out, and designed the pillars to look like trees with the branches holding up the ceiling.  A tortoise and turtle hold up the pillars representing both the earth and sea.

Gaudi dedicated to the four pillars around the altar to the four evangelists.   Each pillar displayed the symbol of one of the evangelists.  The lion pictured here is the symbol for Mark.

After our tour of the inside of the church, the audio directed us to go outside to view the Passion facade.  We were asked to exit through the western doors.  These unique doors tell the story of the Passion in Catalan.

The Passion facade was noticeably different from the Nativity facade.  This facade was all about the days before, during and after Jesus was crucified.  For this reason, Gaudi wanted this facade to face the setting sun.  He wanted the design here to be hard and bare, plain and simple and look like it was made of bones.

Looking on the left hand side of the facade you can see Judas giving Jesus the fatal kiss.  To the left of them is a box of numbers.  Every horizontal and vertical line adds up to 33, the age that Christ was when he died.

On the south side of the Sagrada is the Glory facade, the glorification of Jesus.  On this side you can see plenty of scaffolding and cranes.  This side is still far from being finished.  When it is done, it will be the largest and most striking facade.  It will represent the road to God - death, final judgment and finally glory.  

We would love to see La Sagrada Familia when it is finished so we are penciling in a trip to Barcelona in 2026 and crossing our fingers!  

We finished exploring this special church around lunchtime so we decided to eat at a restaurant we noticed earlier.  It had many different paella choices.  We wanted to make sure we had some paella before we left Spain so we thought this restaurant would be a perfect choice for lunch.

My seafood paella was really delicious and Soko really liked his paella which was filled with yummy veggies but I think what we enjoyed most about this meal was that it was served to us by this very friendly and extremely happy guy!

Look for this restaurant across the street from the Glory facade if you would like to enjoy some delicious paella!  Hopefully, you will also be treated to the same friendly service!

This post was featured:

The Hearth And Soul Link Party


  1. Loved the pics, the church is awesome! The paella looks tasty. Enjoyed seeing your pics and reading about your visit there. Thank you Cathy for linking up at the #BloggingGrandmothersLinkParty 32! Shared x 4.

    1. Thanks Dee and thanks for giving us grandma's a special place to link our posts!

  2. That does sound like a wonderful start to a perfect vacation.

  3. I love reading about your travels. You share such wonderful pictures and great advice!

  4. La Sagrada Familia is just breathtaking! thanks for sharing with the #DreamTeam

  5. Barcalona is a fabulous city - a diverse mixture of new and old. I highly recommend the zoo if you're into that sort of thing too. xx

    1. I love zoos. I hope that I have the opportunity to visit Barcelona again and I will definitely look into going to the zoo. Thanks for the tip!

  6. What a beautiful place! It looks like you are having a great time! Thank you for sharing at Celebrate It!

  7. I have never been to Barcelona, so I'm enjoying seeing it through your eyes! What a wonderful trip! Thank you so much for sharing with the Hearth and Soul Link Party. I’m featuring this post at the party this week. Hope to ‘see’ you there! Have a great week ahead!

    1. Thank you for your nice words and for featuring our post!!!!

  8. Wow!!! Makes me want to go! I have been to Madrid but not Barcelona.

    1. I hope you get a chance to go to Barcelona one day. I would love to see Madrid!