We spent the entire day today admiring the architectural works of the design genius Antoni Gaudi, also known here as God's architect. He really was one of a kind!
La Sagrada Familia
Tickets and Rules
You might recall from our 'scoping out Barcelona' post, that the best way to enter Sagrada Familia is by purchasing your tickets online. You can use this website to select your time slot (yes, you must pick an entry time) and also select whether or not you would like to go up one of the towers (we recommend selecting the Nativity Tower). Unfortunately, the website forgets to mention a few important details about the towers (or if they do mention them, it isn't somewhere obvious):
Tower Travel Tips:
- Children under 6 are not allowed to go up the towers
- Children between 6-16 must be accompanied by an adult when going up the towers
- The towers are not accessible by people with limited mobility or those needing a wheel chair. This is because although you take an elevator to the top of the tower, you must walk back down on foot through narrow spirally staircases.
- Backpacks are not allowed in the towers. There are lockers available by inserting a 20 cent or €1 coin, which is refundable after returning your key to retrieve your belongings.
The construction of Sagrada Familia started in 1882. Gaudi became involved in 1883 and transformed the design with his imagination. You can read more about the history of the church here. The church is expected to be completed in 2026, 100 years after Gaudi's death.
As we walked into the church, our jaws dropped at the magnificent and complex design. There are no words that could properly explain how awe inspiring it is to look up, down and around this architectural beauty. We have tried to capture some of what we saw in the pictures below, but believe us when we say the camera does not do it justice.
After thoroughly oooh'ing and aaah'ing, we went to check out the Nativity tower. As mentioned earlier in this post, we found out while waiting in line that children under 6 are not allowed to go up. Thankfully we have family visiting, so we were able to split up. My husband and brother in law went up together first, while my sister and I stayed with the kids. When the boys returned, the girls headed up.
Travel Tip: If you visit with youngsters and have to split up to go up the towers, talk to the staff (they all speak English) and ask if the waiting parent can wait in front of the line with the kids (there is a small area where our kids just entertained themselves with a few small toys they had brought along). This way as soon as the parent from the tower is back, the waiting parent can go up without having to wait in line again.
A small, 5 person elevator takes you up the tower (we went up the Nativity tower, you can also climb the Passion tower). You are then given instructions on how you will walk back down the spiral staircase after crossing a bridge that connects two of the towers. While high up in the tower, you can expect to see beautiful views of Barcelona, as well as portions of the outside structure of the church.
Regardless of where you view the church from, above or below, if it is during the work week/day, you should also expect to see plenty of hard working construction workers, and lots of construction equipment around. I assure you that this does not take away from the experience one bit.
Sagrada Familia is by far the most incredible architectural piece of work we have seen during our big adventure. I wonder if it will actually be fully completed by 2026.
We saw the views from Park Guell when we were out and about exploring Barcelona about 10 days ago. Today we returned to check out the ticketed area, where we were able to see some of Gaudi's work, including el drac (the dragon). Additionally, we visited Gaudi's house museum, which required a separate ticket (it can be purchased online from this website. Children under 11 enter for free.)
Free Access Areas
During our first visit to this area, I hadn't realized how much of it can be accessed for free. You can walk through and over a series of viaducts, and see great views of Barcelona from above. There are even picnic areas! You may be seeing a picnic in Park Guell post coming up in the near future :)
Gaudi's House Museum
This is a small museum that displays some of Gaudi's work, mainly the furniture that he designed for his clients, and provides some background history of Gaudi and Park Guell. Public access is only granted on the first 2 floors of the building.
Park Guell was a residential housing project sponsored by Eusebi Güell, who commissioned Antoni Gaudi to oversee the it. The work began in 1900 and was in fact a failure. In 1914, the project was abandoned with only 2 out of the 60 originally planned houses built.
Later, Gaudi made one of the finished homes (currently hosting the museum) his house for 20 years, where he lived with his father and niece.
Ticketed Portion of Park Guell
There are 4 entrances into the ticketed portion of the park. Each entrance allows visitors to enter based on the time slot printed on their ticket.
Travel Tip: You can enter at any time within 30 minutes of your start time. You can stay in the park as long as you like, but once you leave the park, you cannot re-enter.
Once inside, you are able to see 2 beautiful buildings at the main entrance (one is a gift shop and the other is another museum that displays some of Gaudi's work along with a some videos about Gaudi), el drac (also known as the dragon), the Hypostyle room (which among other uses was planned to serve as a market for the estate), and the terrace (which includes many mosaic decorated benches and offers a great view).
After spending an entire day with Antoni Gaudi (or his work), we headed to dinner with two very hungry kids!
In the calm and quiet streets of the Gracia neighborhood, we found Cantina Mexicana, an adorable Mexican restaurant with great decoration and atmosphere. We were seated quickly in a small courtyard in the back. The food was delicious and the service was great.