Return to Spain, Barcelona and La Sagrada Familia (March 2022)
It was almost two years to the day that I boarded a plane ‘back’ to Spain after that mad scramble to get out and return to the US. (The full story can be read here). Ironically, this time around it had been a very stressful effort to get back into Spain.
To cut a long story short, one booster vaccine shot (3rd in total) and two negative PCR Tests later, it was just over 24 hours before I was supposed to board my flight and the 48 hour window (before entering Spain) opened and now allowed me to find out if I was going to be allowed into the country. I held my breath as I entered the necessary vaccination info into the form on the Spanish Health website and hit the submit button. A huge sigh of relief as it came back with the magical QR Code necessary to travel. I was finally on my way back!
Although I never made it to Barcelona on my previous ‘shortened’ visit to Spain, I have been several times before and each time I pay homage to Spain’s biggest visitor attraction, La Sagrada Familia.
If you’re unfamiliar with La Sagrada Familia you can catch-up from my previous post here which goes into a lot more detail on the architecture and Antoni Gaudi, the principal architect. So what’s new since my last update I hear you ask. Well the remaining towers continue to rise up from the structure and a lot more ‘outside’ work has been accomplished, which includes the finished Passion facade depicting Christ’s death to resurrection (as shown below).
The strikingly stark Passion Facade – depicting the death of Christ to his resurrection.
The facade where its clear a lot of exterior work has been completed (since my last visit) and is continuing to be worked on, is the Nativity facade (shown below). The second-tallest (at 138m high) of the planned 18 towers (this particular one is dedicated to the Virgin Mary) was inaugurated last year (2021) and is crowned by a 5.5 tonne illuminated star.
The Nativity facade – depicting the birth of Christ, in clear contrast to the Passion Facade with its ever-present cranes constantly flying back and forth over the growing structure.
Slideshow of the exterior of La Sagrada Familia showing views of newer construction alongside previously completed work. The work was originally planned to be completed in 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death, but with COVID forcing its doors to close for a year (visitors entrance fees fund the construction) it has been pushed back to an undetermined date.
Slideshow of the interior of La Sagrada Familia showing the homage to nature by principal architect Antoni Gaudi. The columns soaring upward like tree trunks and their tops spreading out like branches to support the canopy. The many stained glass windows providing natural light with the oranges and yellows on the sun’s ‘rising’ side while the blues and the greens are on the sun’s ‘setting’ side.
There is of course more to Barcelona than La Sagrada Familia (indeed there is more to Gaudi than just La Sagrada Familia, such as Park Guell, Casa Mila and several others), but the influx of well over 4 million visitors per year make it the main attraction. There is, not surprisingly, always opposition to a project of this size, not least from the occupiers of the flats built on what was planned to be the main entrance, the Glory Facade.
When the construction started it was not surrounded by many other buildings as it is now and the apartments on the Glory Facade side are a much later addition. I learned on my latest visit however that they were illegally constructed without permits etc, so Gaudi’s work may yet be completed as he originally planned it.
I don’t know if I will be luckily enough to visit in 2026 or even be around when it is finally completed, but I don’t doubt I’ll be back at some point in the future and I highly recommend you check it out if you are in the vicinity of Barcelona at some point on your travels.