The astonishing Basilica de la Sagrada Familia

Like thousands of other people in Barcelona on Saturday, we visited Basilica de la Sagrada Familia. The queue for tickets was very long but we wanted to see the Sagrada Familia more than any other tourist attraction in Spain, so we stuck it out.

At first sight the building took my breath away. Our friend Anna led us up the steps out of the nearby Sagrada Familia metro station. I knew the basilica must be very nearby, given the name of the station so I looked up for it but was disappointed to see only old apartment buildings similar to others we had been seeing in Barcelona. The pavement was noisy, crowded, and hot. My astonishment came came when I turned my gaze 180 degrees. I have seen many great cathedrals but they do not provide a suitable frame of reference for this building. This was more like stepping into a scene from a Lord of the Rings movie. Here is what we saw:

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The inside of the basilica is even better than the outside. It felt welcoming and it lifted my mood. The pillars supporting the roof high above are a forest of pastel-coloured giant kauri trees. They are so at home there. They must have grown up there. You cannot tell from photos but these pillars are slightly inclined. Who would dare design a cathedral with pillars that are not quite plumb?

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The windows – oh, they are so good! One of my children asked me whether the glass changes colour. Wouldn’t that be magic – tinted glass that can change its colour? But no, it is an illusion. When you stop moving you see that the windows remain as they are. When you move, the colours seem to change around you.

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The happiest person in the basilica on Saturday was Nicholas. He walked around with me helping him balance. I think he loved the space, the cool air, and most of all the freedom to walk. He was gasping with delight.

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I would love to come back to this place, perhaps after they finish it, which is scheduled for 2026.

 

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