Sagrada Familia, the still unfinished masterwork that consumed the final years of Gaudi’s life, is the single must-see work of Gaudi’s for anyone visiting Barcelona. That’s not my opinion, that’s from tourist statistics that suggest 85% of visitors to the city make a stop at the church. It’s now a ‘minor’ basilica (no resident cardinal) dedicate by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011. Construction will not end until 2026 at the earliest and tall construction cranes hover over the massive structure. Eventually, a street will be vacated to provide space for the final section.
This is the “Nativity” facade of Sagrada Familia. There are two others, the “Resurrection” facade and the “Gloria” facade, each with four tall spires like this one. An even taller center spire is intended to complete the project.
The newer construction is intended to carry out Gaudi’s intentions, but the Resurrection facade, mostly complete, is created of smoother stone, probably to simplify construction, and you can see the difference.
The upshot of our reconnaissance was that we did not purchase our tickets. To get our ICOM admission, we need to wait in line (no on-line sales) and take the next time available. We were put off by the crowds and tentatively plan to visit during the last week in October.
Gaudi can be overwhelming. Maybe it will be better after a bit of a break.
What we discovered in visiting Sagrada Familia is the astonishing number of visitors. When we arrived on a Monday (OK, it was midday), the line to purchase a ticket was 30 minutes long. If you purchased a ticket, your entry time would be 4 pm–all earlier times sold out–then you walked to the opposite side of the building, 2 blocks away, to wait. Even with a ticket, it takes another 30 minutes of standing in line to get into the building.
There are more than 3 million visitors per year to Sagrada Familia. To put it in familar terms, that is about 30% more than the largest number of people who have ever visited the Field Museum in a year (Think King Tut, Sue the first year). That means that every day of the year around 8,000 people visit. That turns out to be a lot of people.