I recently visited Barcelona for the 3rd time.  The first time was 15 years ago in May 2001, then again in February 2011 and just now in June 2016.  Each visit was very different.  The first was JF’s and my first time away from our baby, let loose for an adult weekend away.  Ten years later we were back with two children for a short break en famille and this time I was accompanying my son’s school trip in a group of 55 kids and 25 adults for 5 days!  Really, I don’t think it’s possible to experience the city in 3 more different ways and I can vouch that it’s both a wonderful place for adults only and a great place to take children.  I’ll go into more detail about what we got up to with 55 ten and eleven years olds another time but for now I just want to show you how the Sagrada Familia has changed since 2001.

Sagrada Familia Barcelona 2016 inside

I’ll start with a very brief history of the church.  The Sagrada Familia is a Catholic church in Barcelona designed by Modernist architect Antoni Gaudi.  Construction started in 1882 and Gaudi became involved a year later taking over and revising the plans bringing his unique genius to it. However it is not finished as Gaudi was killed by a tram in 1926 and construction all but ground to a halt after his death, relying on private donations (as it does to this day).  The Spanish Civil War then added to the complications and many of the original plans were lost.  By the 1950s building had started again, but very slowly and in 2010 it was considered halfway done. In that same year it was consecrated as a “minor basilica” by Pope Benedict XVI.  Together with 6 other buildings by Gaudi, the Segrada Familia is a UNESCO World Heritage Site despite being unfinished.  The projected completion date is 2026, the centenary of Gaudi’s death.

Sagrada Familia 2016

June 2016

So you can see that when I visited in 2001 it wasn’t even half completed, there was no roof and it really was a building site.  I’ve scanned some of my original photos from then, the quality isn’t great as this was the pre-digital age!  It’s a sign of the times that back then as photos were shot on film I only took about 10 in total.  This visit I probably took nearer 100 using my phone and regular camera.

Sagrada Familia 2001 interior

May 2001

I was absolutely bowled over by the difference in 15 years.  We didn’t go inside in 2011 owing to mismanaging reservations online but we did spend a “fun” afternoon in Carglass just opposite getting a window repaired on our car which had been broken into.  We had a great view and “free” parking!  We haven’t forgotten that particular experience…but getting back to the 15 year changes….

Sagrada Familia inside 2001

May 2001

The inside is now almost fully completed, there was just one hoarding in the middle blocking off an area under construction.  Being with a school group I didn’t have an audioguide and I haven’t done any research for this post, I’m just sharing my observations.  The stained glass windows today are sublime; the colours that pour into the church are mesmerising.  Last time there was dust, concrete and steel.

Sagrada Familia internal works 2016

The hoarding blocking off the only works inside in 2016

In 2001 we climbed up a tower.  (This time it wasn’t possible in such a big group).  I couldn’t make out which staircase we used as they all looked so different.  The detail everywhere is phenomenal.

Sagrada Familia stairs 2001

May 2001

Sagrada Familia stairs

June 2016

I realise 15 years is a long time and these days enormous skyscrapers go up in less than half the time, but when you consider this is all being funded by private donations (even the entrance fee goes towards the build) and the amount of artisanal handicraft and attention to detail going on then it becomes understandable.

Sagrada Familia windows and columns

Sagrada Familia inside

Sagrada Familia stained glass window

Sagrada Familia and bougainvillea

Have you been to the Segrada Familia? Have you been more than once and seen changes taking place?  I’d love to hear from you.

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Segrada Familia changes in 15 years


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