La Sagrada Família (Church of the Sacred Family)#5 in Best Things To Do in Barcelona
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From 1882 up until his death in 1926, Catalan Art Nouveau master Antoni Gaudí devoted himself to the construction of La Sagrada Família (Church of the Sacred Family), a towering Gothic-style-with-a-twist church. And even then, he was unable to finish; Gaudí was known for saying "My client (God) is in no hurry." The church, which is funded by private donations, is still under construction today and is said to be completed by 2026.
La Sagrada Família is not only considered to be Gaudí most recognized work, but also his best. Believe it or not, this church wasn't always Gaudí's. The architect that was first commissioned to do the church, Francesc del Paula Villar, was replaced after disagreeing with promoters of the church. When Gaudí took on the project, he changed it entirely. Instead of the original neo-Gothic style, he looked toward something more innovative. While the church does feature Gothic elements, there are plenty of unconventional details that deviate from that norm throughout, resulting in an eye-catching structure that is entirely one of a kind.
Even if you're not all that interested in architecture, you're sure to find this church — like Gaudí's other work — a feast for the eyes and full of symbolism. Gaudí's main goal for La Sagrada Família was to teach people about Catholicism through architecture. The best place to see this is right outside of the church, where you'll odes all over. The four towers represent the 12 apostles and the intricately carved facades at the base show the life of Christ, from his birth, death and resurrection. La Sagrada Família's interior are just as striking, from the smooth, nearly white stone columns to the rows of vibrant stained-glass windows.
Travelers were in complete awe of the the church's magnificent architecture. So much so that visitors who have been to La Sagrada Família before always make it a case to come back and see it again when they are in Barcelona. Visitors strongly suggested taking your time with this attraction; there's so much to observe and even more details to take in both inside and out. Considering its popularity, travelers warn that no matter what time you visit, there will always be crowds. As such, it's smart to book tickets online in advance to avoid lines. Several of the city's top guided tours offer skip-the-line access, in addition to providing cultural and historical commentary.
The closest metro stop to La Sagrada Família is Monumental or Verdaguer. You can take a quick peek of the church outside for free, but you'll have to pay 15 euros for admission (or $17.50) to go in and explore (travelers highly recommend doing so). The church opens at 9 a.m. year-round but closing hours vary by season. Keep in mind that the church enforces a dress code. Anyone wearing hats, shirts that don't cover shoulders completely and shorts or skirts that don't go over the knee will not be admitted. For more information, check out La Sagrada Família's website.
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#1 Park Güell
Antoni Gaudí's Park Güell is as whimsical as parks can get. The park was originally supposed to be a housing community for the rich, commissioned by Eusebi Güell. Güell hired Gaudí but the project eventually folded due to the land's incompatible building conditions. Gaudí continued on, modeling the park after gardens he had seen in England (Güell means English in Catalan) and building around the natural elements of the land instead of tearing them down.
Today's park covers 42 acres of space and features everyday park props with a twist that is quintessentially Gaudí. Instead of numerous benches spread throughout, here visitors will be greeted with one long, wavy stone bench adorned with vibrant mosaics and equipped with views of the ocean. And instead of drab administrative buildings, the welcome centers here (which house park souvenirs and learning materials on Gaudí and the park) look like buildings you'd see in a Dr. Seuss book. You'll also find plenty of picturesque pathways that weave along verdant vegetation, down cascading tiled staircases and through jagged stone columns and tunnels. While you're here, don't miss the chance to see the Sala Hipóstila. Located right at the entrance, the Sala Hipóstila was originally intended to be a marketplace. Today it serves as nothing more than to dazzle visitors with its stately stone columns and beautiful mosaic works, which you'll find dotted all over the ceiling. Other popular attractions here include the Casa Museu Gaudí (Gaudí House Museum), Gaudí's former home turned museum, and Turó de les Tres Creus, a lookout point with pretty impressive views of the city situated in the southwestern point of the park.
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