Getting The Most Out Of A Visit To La Sagrada Família

The most popular tourist attraction in Barcelona is still under construction and isn’t expected to be completed for nearly a decade.  Designed by the world renowned Antonio Gaudí La Sagrada Família is a towering basilica that has become the symbol of the dynamic city of Barcelona. Gaudí designed the entire church to be a work of art and one that glorifies God.  Tourists descend on the church daily, making it a tough place to experience as it was intended.
La Sagarada Família began construction in 1882.  Only a small portion of the church was completed in Gaudí’s lifetime.  The basic construction is expected to be completed in 2026 with some of the decorative elements taking until approximately 2032.  Entrance fees and donors continue to fund the construction which costs roughly 25 million Euros per year.
It is easy to see why La Sagrada Família is so popular.  It is both massive and intricate.  Eventually it will have 18 towers and the tallest reaching a height of 566 feet tall.  The church dominates the city skyline and can be seen from all over Barcelona.  The exterior features impressive facades depicting the life of Jesus.  The Nativity facade was completed first and depicts the birth of Jesus.  The more simplistic but equally impressive passion facade depicts the death of Jesus.  The Glory facade began work in 2002 and is not viewable to the public as of yet.  It will depict the road to God and become the central entrance of the building.

To Go Or Not Go Inside

Many visitors stand in awe of the exterior, but decide to not enter the church.  The primary reasons for deciding on not entering the building are the extremely long lines and the cost for entering.  The outside views are free but prices for entering the basilica begin at €15.00 for basic admission and go up to €29.00, which includes extras like an audio guide and entrance into the towers.  If you have limited time and budget in Barcelona it can be a tough decision whether or not entering the building is worth it.  Even if you have plenty of time in Barcelona, there is a concern of how much the construction gets in the way of viewing the inside.  La Sagrada Família attracts more than 3 million visitors per year and wait times to enter can reach well over 2 hours during the busy summer season to go inside.
If you do enjoy the outside you will definitely want to see the inside.  Many of the great churches of Europe are known for being cavernous and overly ornamented.  La Sagrada Família’s interior is certainly cavernous and stunning, but also has a minimalist design.  There are 5 naves with the largest soaring to a height of 150 feet.  Instead of being slathered in ornamentation or gold, the interior is white.  Natural light floods in through stained glass, providing bursts of color.  As the sun shifts the church’s interior has different looks throughout the day.
Gaudí loved nature and felt it was a reflection of God.  He incorporated many nature inspired elements into the design.  Columns resemble tree trunks with branches bursting out of the top.  Guests feel like they are standing in the midst of a massive forest.  Spires take the form of fruit like grapes and oranges.   Staircases resemble mollusks.
Gaudí is buried within La Sagrada Família and visitors may see his tomb.  For those looking to get a view of the city from above, the towers are open to the public and included in some of the ticket options.  It can be hard to get a good view of the city as the other towers and ongoing construction are obstructions.  For a better view of the city you can go to Montjuic.

Tips for visiting

As mentioned earlier trying to visit the interior of La Sagrada Família can lead to a long wait.  The number one tip for visiting any of the popular tourist attractions in Barcelona is to book reservations in advance.  You choose a day and a time online.  Doing so allows you to skip the queue and spend minimal time in line.  The downside for those who do not like structured vacations, it forces you to be in a certain place at a certain time.  The time savings are well worth it.
If booking in advance is not an option, the best advice is to arrive early.  It opens at 9:00 AM and you should be in line well before this.  Barcelona is city that stays our late and there are advantages to hitting popular attractions early in the day.  It is also recommended that if you choose to wait in line that you visit in the low season which is between November and March.
La Sagrada Família is located in the heart of Barcelona and easily accessible.  By metro take the L5 or L2 line to the Sagrada Família station.  The church is right outside the station entrance.  It opens at 9:00 AM.  Closing time depends on the time of year.

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