As we approached Sagrada Familia, I was afraid that–after the build up of excitement to see it, my poring over photos and watching of Rick Steve’s travelogue–it might disappoint as yet another cathedral in Spain. By the time we arrived in Barcelona, we had seen our share of the dark, Baroque-ly ornate cathedrals so prevalent and which, to our Protestant sensibilities, did not do much to inspire heaven-ward directed wonder.
Although the complexity of the Nativity Facade made me fear a repeat of our cathedral experience to that point, I was better able to appreciate its artistry after having stepped inside, where Jason and I found ourselves gaping, amazed by the pillared stone forest into which we’d just walked.
With these photos, I’m attempting provide the best sense of Sagrada Familia that I can, and yet, one can only get a small understanding of the impact of the cathedral from them. A few moments after entering the nave, we made our way to two sections of metal folding chairs, arranged in rows before the altar. We sat down, hung our heads back, and simply stared up, trying to take in as much as we could. It’s entirely possible that we spent minutes like this.
The high arched pillars, flowering out into a canopy at the roof, conveyed the feel of a grand old forest in a way that I would have thought impossible for a building. Light welled in through windows on the edge of this forest, providing a clarity and airy-ness unknown in other cathedrals where we’d been. These elements allowed for a sense of worshipfulness, even in the midst of drifting groups of tourists, and the mechanical sounds of drills and hammering.
Below you can see a few more pictures taken of and from the towers, as well as the Passion facade. It is truly an awe-inspiring place.
A few bonus photos: views of Barcelona from the towers