After leaving Naples, we had a full ‘sea day’ before arriving into Barcelona for our disembarkation to mark the last day of our cruise. Our sea day was taken up doing the last bit of tanning on the sun deck and then packing for the first time in 21 days. It’s definitely is a great idea to incorporate a cruise in your holiday as you save at least an hour a day just in pack time and, get all the service and meals you want included – just a great way to wind down.
Our arrival into Barcelona was around 4:00am. I happened to look out and there were the lights of Barcelona coming towards us but at a very slow rate of knots, as ships tend to do when running early.
After an early breakfast, we were off the ship, collected our baggage, and into our transfer vehicle within 10 minutes. We all commented on how smooth and hassle-free, the process for the 3,000 passengers was, and that airports need to learn a few things about dealing with the problems they use to process passengers.
We had made arrangements for a tour of the Sagrada Família. You are probably asking, “What is that?” so I will ‘cut and copy’ a few paragraphs from their website.
Before we entered the grounds of the cathedral, a young girl came up to me and with a list in her hand, asked if i wouldn’t mind being part of her goal she had in mind. I said, “What is this goal?” (Lyn heard better than me, of course). “To kiss men outside lots of different tourist locations in Barcelona before her wedding in a month’s time.” Her future wedding attendants were with her and so I got a lipstick kiss from her and she got a pic and a tick on her list. How’s that?
“The Sagrada Família, Antoni Gaudí’s unfinished masterpiece, is one of Barcelona’s most popular tourist attractions. Construction on this church will continue for at least another decade, but it has already become Barcelona’s most important landmark.
“The idea for the construction of a new church was launched by a devout organisation whose goal was to bring an end to the de-christianisation of the Barcelonese, which had started with the industrialization and was caused by the increasing level of education of the Catalan population. The organisation purchased a plot of land in the new Eixample district in 1877. The architect Francisco de Paula del Villar designed a neo-Gothic church and led the construction which started in 1882.
“Antoni Gaudí’s Design. One year later, the modernist architect Antoni Gaudí took over as lead architect at the age of thirty-one. From that moment on, Gaudí devoted most of his life to the construction of the church.
“Instead of sticking to the original plans, Gaudí changed the design drastically. The neo-Gothic style made way for Gaudí’s trademark modernist style, which was based on forms found in nature. When he died in 1926 only one facade (the Nativity Facade), one tower, the apse and the crypt were finished.
“Because Gaudí was constantly improvising and changing the design while construction was going on, he left few designs and models. And most of these were destroyed in 1936 during the Civil War.
“Still, architects now have a clear idea of what Gaudí had in mind. The last version of his design called for a church 95m/312ft long and 60m/197ft wide. The church will be able to accommodate some thirteen thousand people. When finished, the Sagrada Família will have a total of eighteen towers.
“Four towers on each of the three facades represent the twelve apostles. The towers reach a height of 90 to 120 meters (394ft). Another four towers represent the four evangelists. They will surround the largest, 170m/558ft tall tower, dedicated to Jesus Christ. The last tower, dedicated to Virgin Mary, will be built over the apse.
“Construction. After Gaudí’s death in 1926 construction slowed dramatically due to a lack of funds and the outbreak of the Civil War. Construction pace started to pick up again in the mid 1950s and now two facades and eight towers have been completed. The main nave was roofed in 2000. At that time construction was expected to last for another hundred years, but modern technology has enabled architects to speed up construction so that the “Sagrada Família is now slated for completion in 2026, the centenary of Gaudí’s death.
“Facades. The first facade, facing east, is known as the Nativity Facade. It was finished by Gaudí himself and is ornamented in a Baroque fashion with motifs of animals and plants. Opposite the Nativity Facade is the Passion Facade. Construction of the facades started in 1954, but only in 1987, sculptures depicting the crucified Jesus Christ, were added. As soon as they were installed, the abstract figures caused a storm of criticism, as the style was very different from Gaudí’s.
“The third and main facade is the Glory Facade. Construction of this facade – the most monumental of the three – started in 2002 and is still ongoing. This facade, on the south side of the church, will picture life and death.
“Visiting Sagrada Família Even though the Sagrada Família is far from finished, the remarkable church is well worth a visit. You can visit the crypt were Gaudí is buried as well as the transept and central nave with its giant, tree-like pillars and spectacular vaulting.” http://www.aviewoncities.com/barcelona/sagradafamilia.htm
This was surely one ‘wow’ experience. The outside is obviously not complete and neither is the inside in certain areas, but the first impression is just “overwhelming”. As people entered the enormous well-cut stone edifice, you could see the jaws drop and cameras go straight to eye level. Soon after our entrance, a voice came over the loud speaker singing Ave Maria. The tone was set for a very interesting and educational hour. There were changes of coloured lights to enhance the work done so far, albeit over 140 years, with another 10 to go to completion.
We had included a visit to one of the four towers. That included a 65 metre elevator trip to the top and then a long and tight circular walk down a narrow stairwell to the bottom. There were landings along the way to take photos and a to rest the ‘jelly legs’.
That was some cathedral! I’m sure that on completion, there will be a big party indeed.
Lyn and I returned to our hotel on a peddle-cab taxi. The guy worked hard for 30 minutes and stopped for rests to explain the architecture along the way. The rest of the afternoon included an afternoon nap before the group met to buy some ‘market food’ to put together an evening meal to have before our departure to Singapore tomorrow.