La Sagrada Familia i Park Guell a Barcelona
The “New 7 Wonders of the World” program, in an initiative that was probably to spur tourism than anything else, announced the winners back in 2007. Among them were the Roman Colosseum, India’s Taj Mahal and Peru’s Macchu Pichu. However, if the contest were to be re-done, I would definitely have pushed for Barcelona’s La Sagrada Familia church to be one of the new 7 wonders.
La Sagrada Familia, or “Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família” in Catalan (The Basilica of the Holy Family) is arguably one of the greatest churches ever built. I have been in churches of every style, size, era and religious sect from New York to Paris to London to everywhere in France, and not one of them holds a candle to the awe-inspiring facade of La Sagrada Familia, although the church at Chartres, France, comes a close second.
Just one of many views of the outside of the church (alas, my camera could barely take in the scope of the place):
Antonio Gaudi, the original architect of La Sagrada Familia, died before the thing was anywhere near completition. That was in 1926, and the church is still not completed. When you visit the church, you must pay 13-euros as a “donation to the construction.” It is probably the only time that I did not grumble about having to pay to enter a tourist hotspot.
Photographing the exterior, which looks like melted wax, is challenging. Below, I tried to capture the “fruit baskets” which topped several minor towers (the towers as seen above were topped with whatI can only assume are suns? I may need to do some research):
Oddly enough, the presence of huge yellow cranes, netting and other construction material doesn’t mar the view, probably because there is so much going on. On closer inspection, you realize that the “melted wax” effect is really designs. Below, an image of people leading a cow:
The design is supposed to be Gaudi’s interpretation of Gotic, with an Art-Nouveau modern flare. If you’ve ever seen something as strange and unusual-looking as LA Sagrada, please let me know! Below, we have an image of Jesus on the Cross. I’m not sure if they were finished with him, as his head (forgive me) looks a bit boxy and incomplete. This section of the facade looks a bit more nouveau than the other parts.
The inside of the church does not dissapoint. At first, I was almost repulsed by it, as it is a most cavernous room with little in the way of iconic decoration or shrines to saints as other Catholic churches have, but it soon grew on me. The stained-glass windows are unusual in that they don’t have images of the Bible stories but simply geometric colour designs. The sun was reflecting through, giving me this stunning view:
The ceiling–so high up that my neck, which was already hurting that day, practically snapped off in pain–was a vast network of what I could only say resembled a honeycomb:
Antonio Gaudi was clearly a madman. And a genius. If he wasn’t on some sort of drug, or religious trip, than he clearly possessed one of the greatest imaginations that ever existed. After my sister and I sat on one of the simple wooden pews gaping in awe, we decided to soldier on to the next Gaudi hotspot in Barcelona: the Park Guell.
Park Guell is located on a hilltop, and it takes some hoofing it to get to the top. The streets leading to the park vaguely reminded me of photos I’ve seen of San Francisco, California. But the result of that work-out is worth it: the Park affords views of Barcelona stretching all the way to the Mediterranean:
To most people, paradise consists of azure-clear waters and sand beaches. And while I lust over those too, I almost felt that I was looking at a true paradise: Barcelona is not a paradise removed from civilization, but it reflects love of life, beauty, joy, nature and one hell of a gorgeous sunset. I snapped a photo of my sister against the gorgeous vista:
The “fence” she’s leaning on in the photo is quite unique, as it consists of what appears to be pottery smashed up and set into the plaster/stone. A very, very unique idea! At this point we were so tired that we decided to descend down below to the two cute little Gaudi-buildings rather than hike up the expansive dirt trails of the Park Guell.
Hereis one of the Gaudi buildings. It reminds me of a gingerbread house, or maybe a house from the game Candyland! So cute!
The other house (or church?) below was turned into a shop. Again, I don’t know what drugs Gaudi was on but I wish he could have designed New York City!
As you can see, Barcelona possesses some excellent sites and views. I would highly recommend going during the summer months though, so you could get the full Barca effect by going to the beach. As for me, I know I’ll have to go back because I didn’t get to go on the amazing cable cars that traverse the Vell Port (they were closed by the time we reached the tower on our last day). I know that if I go back to Barcelona again, life will be sweet, so
Eins veiem de nou, a Barcelona!