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Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family (Basílica y Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Família also known Sagrada Familia) is a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. The construction of the church commenced in 1882 with the idea of strengthening Catholic traditions considered to be jeopardized by the industrialization. The original neo-Gothic design was created by Francisco de Paula del Villar, a local diocesan architect. However, soon after the constructions started, Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926, another Barcelonian architect considered the great master of Catalan Modernism) took over the construction and design of the church. Gaudí, who already acquired some degree of recognition and reputation for his unconventional interpretation of Catalan modernism, changed completely the original project transforming it into what later became his greatest masterpiece.
Actually, when Antoni Gaudí died in 1926, the estimated completion of the construction was about 15% - 20%. Since then, the construction was supervised by a number of architects based on reconstructed blueprints (most of few original plans were lost or destroyed during Spanish civil war in 1936) which have included modern adaptations. The construction has been progressing slowly with some interruptions; however, by 2010, it reached mid-point. The church is estimated (as of 2011) to be completed somewhere after year 2017 but not later than 2026, the 100th anniversary of the Gaudí's death.
The emerging style of the Sagrada Família is eclectic to say the least. It can be linked to Spanish Late Gothic and Baroque architecture; the influence of Catalan modernism (the Spanish variant of Art Nouveau) is very strong. However, any attempt to represent this amazing work as a mixture of styles would be misleading. What makes the Sagrada Família so remarkably striking is the Antoni Gaudí's unique ability to express his artistic vision in ways that go beyond any style or classification.
The design of the Sagrada Família departs from the traditional Catholic church architecture. Gaudi's original plan (representing Latin cross with five aisles) includes the total of eighteen towers (spires), representing the twelve Apostles, the four Evangelists (authors of Gospels), the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ. This design makes Sagrada Família the tallest church in the world. Its footprint is that of the cathedral-sized building (although the church has never intended to be a cathedral). The internal partitioning of the structure is rather complex and includes aisles, an ambulatory, chapels, towers and portals - all in different forms and decoration styles.
The Sagrada Família will have three facades: the Nativity facade (to the East), the Passion facade (to the West), and the Glory facade (to the South - to be completed). The Nativity Façade was built first and is the most representative of the original Gaudí's intent. Facades are striking for their tormented and gaunt characters, apocalyptic scenes, symbols and allegoric representations of sins and virtues.
The interior design is unusual as well. For example, the columns are split at the top; their shapes result from the intersection of various geometric forms. All interior surfaces are curved in one or another way producing abstract curvaceous shapes often almost of an alien nature. Various type of symbolism is an integral part of the church's design representing various Catholic dogmas and themes.
La Sagrada Família has been defined as an expiatory church since its beginnings in 1882 - in Christian theology, "expiation" implies either the removal or cleansing of sin. In very materialistic terms it also means that the construction has been financed mostly from donations and contributions of millions of people. Proceeds from entrance tickets purchased by tourists are also used now to pay for the work.
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What Makes It Special
The way people react to Sagrada Familia is polarizing. It ranges from "sensual and spiritual" to "whimsical and exuberant", from "hideous, strange, ruthless and arrogant" to "marvelous, exceptional, brilliant and pure genius." It seems at times we run of adjectives in our attempts to describe the impression the Antoni Gaudí's masterpiece produces on us - no doubt, a sign that the Sagrada Familia is one of the most extraordinary architectural creations the human mind has brought into existence. This vision is reflected in the fact that la Sagrada Familia was added in 2005 to the list of other Gaudí's buildings in Barcelona which have been already granted the UNESCO World Heritage status citing among other things "Gaudí’s exceptional creative contribution to the development of architecture and building technology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries."
As far as the religious aspect and impact the Sagrada Familia has had on Catholic church, it was recognized by the consecration of the church by Pope Benedict XVI on 7 November 2010 with thousands and tens of thousands of people following the consecration Mass inside and outside the church. The Pope also proclaimed it a minor basilica (a papal title given to some Roman Catholic churches usually associated with certain privileges).
The Sagrada Familia's distinctive silhouette has become the symbol of Barcelona. It is estimated that every year about 2.5 million people visit the church.
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Directions To Destination
To come to Barcelona where the Sagrada Familia is located use Barcelona International Airport or El Prat Airport (IATA: BCN). It is located approximately 7.5 miles (12 km) from Barcelona. The airport serves domestic and international flights. The airport ground transportation includes:
- Train: the RENFE (a state company operating trains) commuter train station at the airport is located at Terminal 2. The commuter train line R2 runs from this terminal to Macanet-Massanes station(in the outskirts of municipality of Macanet de la Selva (Selva, Catalonia) through downtown of Barcelona (in downtown the train makes stops at Barcelona Sants and Passeig de Gracia; Passeig de Gracia railway station is near Barcelona Metro). If you arrive at Terminal 1, you will need a connecting bus to reach Terminal 2 (the distance between two terminal is about 2.5 miles or 4 km).
- Bus: the Transports Metropolitans de Barcelona (TMB) public bus, line 46 runs from airport to Placa Espanya serving passengers during the day time. Airport NitBus N17 is a night bus. A scheduled private bus line (Aerobús) makes trips from airport to Placa Catalunya. The cost is about €6 one way. You can catch the Aerobus from outside both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Check the Web site of Inici - Àrea metropolitana de Barcelona for bus schedules
- Taxi: it takes about 30 minutes to get to the city center; add 10 more minutes if you take taxi at Terminal 1. The cost of taxi to the center of Barcelona is about €30.
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Best Time To Go
The best time to explore Barcelona is June and July. The weather during these months is dry and sunny but not very hot. However, Barcelona is pleasant to visit all year round. It has a Mediterranean climate with mild, humid winters and warm, dry summers. The most rainy months are spring months - April, May and fall months - September, October and November. The driest are February, March, June and July. The coldest month is January. Day temperatures in January are from 46 to 63 °F (8 to 17 °C); night temperatures are from 36 to 50 °F (2 to 10 °C). There is practically no snow in Barcelona but there may be frost in some areas in winter. In August, the hottest month, day temperatures average from 77 to 88 °F (25 to 31 °C).
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Where To Stay
Our picks are:
- Anba Bed & Breakfast Deluxe (Ronda de Sant Pere 27, Principal 4A, Eixample, 08010 Barcelona). Rates start from €140 per room/night (all taxes are included). The Anba Bed & Breakfast is within walking distance from Palau de la Musica Catalana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are 7 rooms in the hotel.
- Mandarin Oriental Barcelona (Passeig De Gracia, 38 - 40, Eixample, 08007 Barcelona) a five star hotel belonging to Mandarin Oriental chain. Rates start from €420 per room/night (all taxes included). The hotel is located on famous Passeig de Gràcia within a 5 minute walk from Gothic Quarter (the old city of Barcelona) as well as Gaudi’s Casa Batlló and Casa Milà (La Pedrera). There are 98 rooms in the hotel.
Research and book hotels in or near Barcelona, Spain
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Sightseeing. In addition to Sagrada Família visit other Antoni Gaudi's creations including Casa Batlló (the architect's interpretation of the legend of Saint George (patron of Catalonia) and his dragon), Palau Güell (a mansion in Barcelona designed for the Catalan industrial tycoon Eusebi Güell) and Park Güell (all included in "Works of Antoni Gaudí" UNESCO World Heritage Site). Tour Barri Gotic - Gothic Quarter in the center of Barcelona old city.
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Useful Visitor Information and Tips
Sagrada Família opening hours from October to March are 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM and from April to September 9:00 AM - 8:00 PM. Entrance fee is €12.50 (2011). Combined ticket for Sagrada Família plus Casa-Museu Gaudí is €14.50. Use metro stop "Sagrada Familia", Blue Line, L 5 or Purple Line, L 2 to get there, or you can use any other kind of transport (bus, tram, taxi) or simply walk.
Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) is the center of the old city of Barcelona. There was a Roman settlement at that place: the city of Barcelona started from that place. You can find some buildings from the time of Roman Empire in Barri Gotic; others belong to medieval times.
- Casa Batlló address: Casa Batlló, No.43 Passeig de Gracia, Barcelona. Use metro station "Passeig de Gracia." You will need Green Line, L 3 and Calle Arago-Rambla Catalunya exit (Casa Batlló is about one minute walk from it). Entrance fee is €17 per person.
- To visit Park Güell use Metro Green Line, L3, metro stop "Lesseps." Prepare for 30 minutes walk up the hill upon exiting the metro. Consider bus or taxi if you are not fit or do not want to climb the steep hill. Park hours are from 10:00 AM till 7:00 PM (closing hours may vary); There are no entrance fees. You should plan for half a day to tour the park.
- Palau Güell (Guell Palace) is located at Nou de la Rambla, 3-5. 08001 Barcelona. It is opened after long reconstruction to take care of structural problems with the building. It is open Sunday through Tuesday from 10 AM to 8 PM; entrance fee is €10.
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