Barcelona 2019: Sagrada Familia
Antoni Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia is one of the major attractions in Barcelona. I had made it a must-stop on my first visit to this beautiful city, 10 years ago in 2009. That time, there was nothing to see inside, but construction workers and lots of construction materials – cement, wood, etc – littered the nonexistent flooring. The inside was dusty and rough, but the ceiling was worth the visit. Another attraction at that time was the ascent up to the towers for a great view of the city. But unfortunately, we arrived at a late hour and the elevator slots to go up were all booked. To be frank, we were not keen on going up there to view the city, because we know there are other viewpoints all over the city to get a great view of the city without paying extra for the experience.
We skipped Sagrada Familia on our second visit to Barcelona in 2014, five years after the initial visit. We were guessing that 5 years is not long enough time for major changes in the interiors of the church. Thankfully, we were blessed to have another chance to go back to Barcelona in January of this year. If it would just be us – the husband and I – we would skip this again; but we were traveling with my college roommate and her family who were all first-time visitors to this great city and whose passion is to visit different churches, so we put the church on our must-see list. We were thankful for this second opportunity to visit it.
This time, we were able to book our reservations online and so we arrived at the time of our booking and while there were some crowd, it wasn’t too bad; and the process of going through the line and all that was painless, to be honest.
Inside, I was flabbergasted. I mean if that was even surprising at all. The flooring was completed, the nave and the pews were in place. The little details like the chandelier hanging above by the altar and the stained glass windows were all in place. The interiors all of a sudden appear spacious. I did not get that feeling on the first visit, even though in hindsight, it should because there wasn’t much clutter in the room at that time. It seemed that indeed this church is going to be completed after all. In fact, a goal date of 2026 has been pegged as completion date. We planned on going back there in 2026 to witness it all.
A hundred years after the death of its architect, this massive project spanning over a century that came from the artistic brain of Gaudi will see its fruition. Generations of Barcelonans and people around the world that watched and saw the transformations of well-loved church will look fondly at the finished product – knowing how they have grown and changed with the church through the years. There may be life’s milestones that coincided with the church’s milestone – that solidifies one’s relationship with the church. The next generation of people – Barcelonans and others – will only see the completed work, but does not have any idea of its growing/building pains. I am happy and grateful that I got to see it when there was nothing to see and again 10 years later when it’s closer to completion. I will look fondly at this church like a child I’ve seen grown from toddler to now a young adult and soon into full grown adult.
The attached museum remains the same, although it was here that crowd’s presence was widely felt, especially in the gift shop.
I didn’t take as many photos as I usually do, or for that matter, but I was enjoying the moment. I liked how beautiful the light passes through the colored glasses and into the flooring. What a show in itself. I saw some details that I may have seen in previous visit or simply a new thing that required more attention. I delighted in watching my friend see all the beauty for the first time. And of course I was busy comparing notes from memory of what was there in 2009 versus what’s been added in 2019.