The Sagrada Familia is Antoni Gaudí’s legacy to the world. This masterpiece of imagination and inspiration was so ambitious that the building was never completed during the architect’s lifetime and is still being worked on to this day.
The basilica’s eight towers have become one of Barcelona’s most iconic landmarks. Visitors flock here from all over the world to pay homage to the genius of the famous architect who dedicated the last years of his life to his ultimate flight of fancy. It was the apotheosis of all of his previous architectural experiments, combining elements of Art Nouveau and Gothic architecture in a riot of colour and visual trickery.
The densely textured facades give the basilica the appearance of a giant sandcastle, while the interior refracts the architect’s obsession with natural forms through lofty columns in the shape of trees and the clever use of natural light.
Entry to the basilica is by ticket and the queues for this popular attraction can be very lengthy, even out of season. Buy in advance online if you want to beat the crowds and try to make your visit at a less busy time, when you will have a better chance of appreciating the breathtaking architecture. For an additional charge you can hire an audio guide which gives you one hour and 45 minutes of commentary on some of the building’s most important features. A shorter, specially adapted audio guide is available for children.
More information can be gleaned from the 20-minute film on show in the audiovisual room, which chronicles the building’s history, while the museum in the basement offers an insight into its controversial construction. You’ll almost certainly have to queue again for the lift to the top of the towers, but the views over the city are well worth the wait.
One of the best ways to absorb the special atmosphere of this sacred place is by attending the daily mass, which is conducted in Spanish and Catalan, or one of the regular international services conducted in several languages. You can check the times of services on the cathedral’s website, as well as details of other special events and exhibitions.