Sagrada Familia, Arc de Triomf, Park de la Ciutadella

Thursday, April 10th, Barcelona

Warning, another long post.  So much to share from today!

I’m rather embarrassed to admit that I really did not “get” Gaudi.  After visiting Park Guell, and walking through La Pedrera, as well as walking past the front of his well-known building on the “block of discord”, I was still feeling ambivalent at best.

I thought I understood his love of nature and his desire to incorporate it into his designs, but I was left puzzled and more like I had visited a hollywood set, or something out of Disneyland rather than a work of architectural brilliance.

When he graduated from his architectural training, his professors summed it up best, “Who knows whether we have given the degree to a madman or a genius: only time will tell”.  I was leaning toward the former.

But that was about to change…

At the young age of 31, only 5 years after completing his studies, he was asked to take over the then one year old project, Sagrada Familia.  Originally designed to be a “typical” gothic style church, Gaudi instead redesigned the church using his unique and imaginative curvilinear Art Nouveau style.

I felt like I had a bit of a handle on Gaudi, until I walked inside.  Nothing could prepare me for what I saw:

Sagrada Familia


First impressions as you walk inside – quite literally, OMG!

Stained glass windows

Stained glass windows


Marble and stone columns branch at the top representing tree trunks (balances the weight to support the heavy towers above) and incorporates his love of nature.


Light streams from all angles.

Looking up at the ceiling from the center of the church

Looking up at the ceiling from the center of the church

Christ with wheat and grapes for wine representing the body and blood of Jesus

Christ with wheat and grapes for wine representing the body and blood of Jesus

More ceiling detail (courtesy of Wikipedia)

More ceiling detail (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Looking straight up makes you a little dizzy

Looking straight up makes you a little dizzy

There is SO MUCH detail and information about Segrada Familia that to try to cover all the exterior, each part of the interior, the history, the crypt, his school and workshop, and the museum would cover several blog posts.

The symbolism and stories told on each exterior facade are fascinating.  The Nativity facade is by far the most ornate.  It is the starting point and tells of Jesus birth and early years.  The three portals, for faith, hope and charity.  There is even a fir tree over the entrance.  This entrance was built while Gaudi was still alive.

The western side is the Passion Facade.  It tells the story of Jesus persecution and crucifixion.  In a decidedly different style, it is still full of symbolism, mystery and meaning.

I hope that you will take a look at the link to the Wikipedia page or their own site to see more pictures, learn about the ongoing work, and more.  Even better, get on an airplane at your earliest convenience and come see it for yourself.

I am NOW a big fan of Mr. Gaudi!

Arc de Triomf

“It was built as the main access gate for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair by architect Josep Vilaseca i Casanovas.” ~ Wikipedia

We have had the pleasure of visiting similar monuments in Paris, London and Bucharest.

Arc de Triomf

Arc de Triomf

Park de la Ciutadella

This 70 acre historical garden is located at the northeastern edge of the old town, adjacent to the Arc de Triomf.  It houses a couple of museums, the zoo, an enormous fountain and sculptures also attributed to a young (still a student) Gaudi, a lake, and open green spaces to enjoy.  My friend Anna suggested we take a look and I’m so glad she did.

Fountain in the park

Fountain in the park

Tim and Joanne in front of fountain at Parc de la Ciutadella

Tim and Joanne in front of fountain at Parc de la Ciutadella

Hopping on the metro once again we headed back toward La Rambla.  The metro is easy to use with good signage and each route color coordinated.  The pocket-sized maps make planning your day simple.

On the Metro

On the Metro

We had been warned that the food along this tourist route was fair at best, but we were hungry and stopped in at La Poma for a bite.  Located just a block from Placa Cantalunya, it was expensive as was expected, but we did enjoy it non-the-less.  The meal came to 34 Euros ($47 USD) for the two small dishes, one glass of sangria, one small bottle of water, and one dessert (apple cobbler with ice cream).


Gnocchi in pesto sauce with sun-dried tomatoes and honey


Salmon cubes marinated in lemon, ginger and parmesan

GRATITUDE MOMENT:  Today I am grateful that I did not give up on Mr. Gaudi. From thinking he was a bit “different” to now appreciating his “vision”, I have come full circle.

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About Tim and Joanne Joseph

Hi and welcome! We are Tim and Joanne Joseph and we have just embarked on our "next chapter". At a stage in life where traveling the world, taking pictures, and sharing our adventures with friends and family will be our dream come true.
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6 Responses to Sagrada Familia, Arc de Triomf, Park de la Ciutadella

  1. I have seen images of this structure before,, but nothing like this 🙂

    The ceiling shots, you have taken are simply awesome, they reminds me of the images I used to see and wonder in my old kaleidoscope.

    Have a nice day 🙂


  2. Vicki says:

    Your beautiful photos brought me back to our visit to the Sagrada Familia with the colors, arches and beams of light. Magnificent.


    • Thank you Vicki. Weren’t the colors magnificent? The light coming in from so many angles added so much to the experience. I’m so glad we got to see it now. I am hoping to see it finished in my lifetime and would love to revisit it some day.


  3. Sreejith, the ceilings were extraordinary and unlike anything I have ever seen in a church before. It would be impossible to try to describe them and my pictures only tell part of the story. One really must experience it in person to fully appreciate it. Thanks for your kind compliment.


  4. I also didn’t ‘get’ Gaudi, until I walked into the Sagrada Familia, and suddenly it all made sense…


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