Editors Note: Barcelona is one of the major European ports that will be visited this upcoming Med season. If your cruise begins or ends here, it is well worth a few days stay. Marcia will be reporting on some of the city’s highlights.
Barcelona is a beautiful city. I am staying, with a group of five other writers, at the ME Barcelona hotel, a Sol Media product in Barcelona’s Industrial District, now being rehabbed into a cultural district for the city. From my 19th floor hotel room, I look over at the beautiful, amazing and still-not-complete Sagrada Familia, probably one of the most photographed and visited churches in the world.
I have visited Barcelona three times by cruise ship and I overnighted here once before. This trip will be for six days and I hope to see so much.
I have been to Sagrada Familia before, but I never went inside — the crowds were always daunting.
The church was architect Antonio Gaudi’s lifelong dream to which he dedicated 43 years of his life. Consecrated in November 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI, the church is an absolute magnet for visitors to this seaside Spanish city. I can’t imagine a more photographed site. And the crowds early this morning were bigger than ever.
This time, with the help of a guide, we made it inside. Huge and oh-so-beautiful columns look like trees and the entire sight is jaw-dropping. Gaudi described sculptures of trees, fruit and vegetables in his homage to nature, and over the dramatic central doorway on the Glory façade, the text of the Lord’s Prayer can be found in 50 languages.
Gaudi brought a new style of architecture to the church. It is a combo of Gothic art and art nouveau with tremendous additions portraying his love of nature. Gaudi knew he’d never complete the church in his lifetime and left complete instructions for architects and associates to continue his work as faithfully as possible. Some of the models and plans were destroyed by fire during the Spanish Civil War, but work has continued according to Gaudi’s designs.
Sagrada Familia was designed, like many churches, in the shape of a Latin cross. Some of the tourist-friendly areas include:
— The semi-circular apse where the altar is set. Below, the crypt has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is where Gaudi is buried.
— The Glory Facade will have four towers when completed, a portal will connect and contain Jesus’ teachings. The entire project will have 18 towers.
— Completion is expected by 2026 which will be the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.