Day 2: Barcelona, Spain – Sagrada Família

After a morning exploring the new section of Barcelona, we spent the afternoon at the Sagrada Família, a cathedral with an amazing combination of Gothic and Art Nouveau architecture. I’m not sure that I would have ever considered combining these two periods since Gothic is a very distinctive older architecture and Art Nouveau was a period of modernization. Having seen some of Antoni Gaudí’s creations earlier in the day, it was quite interesting to see how he had combined some of his crazier designs with Gothic elements.

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Make sure to get an advance reservation! Our appointment was at 4:00pm, so after our afternoon siesta, we arrived a bit early to examine the exterior. The carvings and attention to detail was really cool. All of us thoroughly enjoyed examining the intricate details.

Gaudí’s designs really appeal to children. They are bold, unique, and you leave with a sense of being overwhelmed by the visual stimulation. I tend to really like the ornate nature of Gothic artwork.

One thing you will notice is that the cathedral is not finished. Francisco de Paula del Villar came up with a design in 1882, Antoni Gaudí took over as designer in 1883, and the architectural elements are expected to be complete in 2026. Of course, it will still need a few more years of finishing work.

This is most obvious in the interior. While there are the obvious cranes that indicate that the exterior is undergoing work, at first glance you might just think that it is being renovated. Once you go inside, it quickly becomes clear that this is still a work in progress.

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Gothic cathedrals almost always feel very open with soaring ceilings and minimal walls that divide up the space. I usually feel quite small and insignificant. The first time I really noticed this feeling was in the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, but the interior of the Sagrada Família reaffirmed this insight.

It was interesting to also note the Art Nouveau elements in the interior. The feeling was super modern, but went surprisingly well with the airy Gothic elements. Not our style, but still definitely worth a visit. Jeremy commented that with all the open space and the very modern look, it might be a good setting for something like the Space Mountain rollercoaster. Maybe not.

After finishing at the cathedral, we had a low-key evening, making sure to stop at a park for the kids. When traveling with children, it is always wise to try and give them some semblance of normalcy while they are experiencing a new and different culture.

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