Plan To Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside And Outside
On the top of our list of things to do in Barcelona was to tour the Sagrada Familia inside and outside. When we last visited Barcelona, we spent several hours wandering outside of the Sagrada Familia and took in a lot of the interesting building architecture. But there were cranes everywhere. And we did not go inside.
So on this trip, we booked in advance to tour this famous UNESCO World Heritage Site including an inside tour. We were delighted when we learned that the inside was now complete. And we got such an amazing view of this inside marvel.
Sagrada Familia is the major tourist spot in Barcelona. It is the basilica of the “Holy Family”. When initially conceived it was a simple Roman Catholic church. Later on, it was designated as a Cathedral. And on November 7th 2010, Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the Temple and granted it the status of a Minor Basilica. Mass was held every Sunday morning at 9 am and was conducted in several languages. The spaces were limited, with entrance on a first-come, first-served basis.
We did not attend a service in the church and enjoy the atmosphere. But we were delighted to tour this amazing church on our visit to Barcelona.
An Early Start To Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside and Outside
From our hotel in Barcelona, we mapped out the subway route to Sagrada Familia. We booked an indoor tour for 9:30am and were allowed in when the site opened at 9:00am. It was great to visit before the crowds grew. By 10:30 it was a much busier spot. The sun was just in the right spot this early in the morning and it shined through the stained glass windows. We watched as colours lit up the inside.
We wandered outside and inside for a short while before we met our tour guide. Before we visited, we downloaded the app to tour the Sagrada Familia on our own. Different points around the site were numbered and it was easy to use the audio guide at each spot for more information. Before we started our tour we had some basic information. But the tour guide added more context and interesting tidbits touring the Sagrada Familia.
The Architecture Of The Sagrada Familia
The Sagrada Familia was one of the architectural gems of Antonio Gaudi. In fact, he was even buried in this church. We learned he was not the original architect in 1882 but took over the project 2 years after its start. Initial construction was begun by the diocesan architect Francisco de Paula del Villar using neo-Gothic design. After Gaudi’s death in 1926, the project continued under several new architects over the years.
The original design included eighteen spires. The Twelve Apostles were the shortest. Then came the Virgin Mary and the four Evangelists (Saint Luke, Matthew, John and Mark). The tallest spire represented Jesus Christ.
While various sections of the overall design were finished, even when we visited in 2022 the outside was not yet completed. In November 2021, the Sagrada Família lifted the star of the Virgin Mary into place. The final crowning piece will be the completion of the three levels to the tower of Jesus Christ. This will be the tallest structure in all of Barcelona.
While the outside structures were still being worked on, the building was much further ahead than on our last visit to Barcelona. Wars and pandemics continued to delay construction. But we were delighted that we saw the interior in its final form.
Some of the detailed exterior carvings were done by the Japanese artist Etsuro Sotoo who worked for more than 40 years to complete what Gaudí left unfinished. When we looked close at several statues, we saw the oriental eyes he left on the carvings.
The Sagrada Familia was one of the works of Antonio Gaudi that were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tour the Sagrada Familia inside and outside and the architectural design will leave you amazed.
We Started With The Nativity Facade – The Birth Of Christ
The current main entrance to the Sagrada Familia was on the side of the Nativity Facade. We saw this full side of the church when we exited from the subway. This side of the church presented an intricately carved facade that told the story of Christ’s birth. When we looked close we saw the shepherds, wise men and the nativity scene.
The outside carvings on the Nativity Facade were a stunning first sight touring the Sagrada Familia.
Christ Hung Over The Main Altar
The church plan was that of a Latin cross with five aisles. The outer aisles were wide and left lots of room to stand back and admire the interior.
The main altar was on a raised dais with two large organs. Several times during our visit we heard the organs play.
The centre piece was Christ on a cross hanging under a baldachin (or canopy). The heptagonal shape represented the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. It was said to be modelled on the cathedral in Palma de Mallorca.
Tour the Sagrada Familia and spend some time admiring the main altar.
Stained Glass In Jewel Colours
When we travel we always visited churches and admired the stained glass. The stained glass on all sides of the Sagrada Familia immediately caught our attention. The colours were brightly hued and in most cases abstract in design.
The Nativity Facade showcased yellow, green, and blue glass that symbolized the birth of Christ, poverty, and light. The bolder yellow, orange, and red windows were on the Passion Facade and represented water, light, and resurrection.
In churches we visited like Canterbury Cathedral, the stained glass often told complete stories. We were not really sure if the abstract designs in the stained glass in Sagrada Familia told tales.
We toured the Sagrada Familia early in the day when the sun was first up. And we got an even more special treat from the stained glass. The colours shone through and created beautiful patterns on the walls and columns.
Looking Up In The Sagrada Familia
The inside architecture of the Sagrada Familia was unlike other churches. The columns were made of red porphyry and basalt and were shaped like tree trunks. The columns branched out and looked like palm trees reaching to the ceiling. We felt like we were deep inside the forest rather than in a church in the heart of Barcelona.
The four columns in the centre of the church honoured the Evangelists. The winged man was Matthew, the winged lion Mark, the winged ox Luke and an eagle was John.
We found a spot in the pews as we leaned back and admired the details in the ceiling. In one spot we found a mirror that provided another way to admire the ceiling. It was yet another beautiful view of the Sagrada Familia as we looked skyward.
Stairways and Elevators Up
There were several staircases and elevators to go up in the Sagrada Familia for a high viewpoint. When we visited it was not possible to go up by the stairways. And it appeared that access by the elevators was limited.
We were told that some limited number of tours provided access up on either the Passion facade or the Nativity facade – but not both. And you could not take the elevator back down. Rather you walked down the stairs. Although we never saw the elevators move or people on the stairs when we visited.
At the top there were narrow walkways and stairs to the tower. And from there a great view of Barcelona below.
A view from the top was definitely something to plan for a return visit to tour the Sagrada Familia inside and outside. But we would remember to confirm if the tours were actually bookable!
The New Entrance On The Glory Facade
The new entrance to the Sagrada Familia will be on the Glory Facade. This facade represented Christ’s rise to heaven and eternal bliss.
Even though the doors through the Glory facade were not yet open, we found the inside of this facade easily recognizable. The beautifully carved door was designed by sculptor Josep Maria Subirachs and had the Lord’s Prayer written on the door in more than 50 languages.
Above the door was a statue of Jesus Christ. The window above the Christ statue was monochromatic. A much different glass piece than the other colourful ones.
When we wandered outside, we went to the side with the Glory Facade. And nothing was yet very visible outside.
When completed this facade will have eight columns with spires. The columns will make seven entrances devoted to the seven sacraments and the seven petitions of the Lord’s Prayer. And even more fascinatingly, the facade will feature illuminated clouds on the columns. They will represent the Holy Trinity: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
It will definitely be worth a return tour of the Sagrada Familia inside and outside when the Glory Facade is finished.
The Stark Passion Facade – The Death Of Christ
We got our first view of the stark Passion Facade on our first visit to the Sagrada Familia. The side represented the death of Christ. While very different from the naturalistic style that Gaudi used on the Nativity Facade, this side stark side still followed the drawings and instructions left by Gaudí for future architects and sculptors.
We went outside on our tour and got more insight into this unique side of the church from our guide. He talked about the central sculptures and the key people shown around Jesus on the cross. We spent a lot of time studying the interesting details on this facade.
Tour the Sagrada Familia and there will be so many different design styles to marvel at.
Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside And Outside And Visit The Museum
We went back inside the Sagrada Familia one last time. The doors on the Passion Facade drew our attention as we went in. And the designs on the floor stopped us for a few minutes.
We saw several interesting exhibits in the sacristy as we walked around. The ‘Way of the Liturgy’ was an exhibition of pieces Antoni Gaudí designed for the Catholic liturgy. Outside there was a museum that held plans, original sketches, reconstructed models and various other items that provided a glimpse into the creative process behind the stunning design of the Sagrada Familia.
A Final View From Outside
When we exited at the Passion Facade we found the large Placa de Gaudi Park. There were several spots for a final view of the amazing Sagrada Familia church. This gave us such a great perspective of the Passion Facade.
We were at the Sagrada Familia for half a day so we needed a break before we headed back to our hotel. We found a coffee shop with a great view of the church. How could we pass up one final look?
Don’t Miss A Chance To Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside And Outside
On our first visit to Sagrada Familia, we found lots to see as we wandered outside. And since our last visit, much was completed on the exterior.
But on this visit to Barcelona, we were so glad we planned to tour the Sagrada Familia inside and outside. And that we booked a tour for the first spot of the day. It was great to visit the church when it was not packed with visitors. And when the sun was perfect for a colour display from the stained glass. Our tour guide added some interesting details that the audio tour alone did not cover.
One day we will return for a final visit when the Sagrada Familia is complete. And we are sure we will still be amazed by the beauty of this amazing piece by Antoni Gaudi.
Did you tour the Sagrada Familia inside and outside in Barcelona? Did you have a favourite spot?
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