Sagrada Familia is famous largely due to its Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi and the fact that the church has been under construction since 1882. Sagrada Familia estimated completion date is now 2026 – 2028 if all goes well. The construction/tourist site is the most visited tourist attraction in Barcelona Spain.
Many people purchase their tickets to Sagrada Familia online prior to visiting Barcelona. I like to keep my options open so when I spent 9 days in Barcelona I had a mental list of places that I wanted to visit and decided day-by-day what I would do, depending on the weather or what I was in the mood for. Some people prefer to plan out the itinerary for their entire trip in advance but that would be far too structured travel planning for me.
I knew there would be crowds of people gathered at the entrance as soon as it opened so I planned to get there early and beat the rush of ticket buyers. I arrived about a half hour before the opening time of 9 am and the line was already around the corner and halfway down the block!
When I arrived at the ticket counter I was told I could get in at 9:45 but the Sagrada Familia tower visit would be 3 pm. I said no to that time and she did check the computer again and offered me 10:45 for the tower visit so I bought the ticket. The couple in front of me in line were given an entrance time of 11:45 and 3 pm for their tower visit. I think you fare better being a solo visitor.
Since I had some time to spare I went across the street for a croissant and coffee of course.
I was expecting my experience at Sagrada Familia to be similar to the first time I set foot in Hagia Sophia in Istanbul Turkey. Awestruck is what I was expecting. Perhaps that is the source of my dissatisfaction with Sagrada Familia.
It was a magnificent piece of architecture and there was some beautiful stained glass, not as fabulous as the stained glass dome at Palau de la Musica Catalana mind you. It was on par with Basilica Santa Maria del Mar – which has no line up and is free to visit.
I actually recommend that if you only have a couple of days in Barcelona you should just skip the hype of Sagrada Familia and visit El Born district where you can take in the Museo Picasso, Basilica Santa Maria del Mar, eat some tapa, and do a little shopping in the same amount of time you would spend at Sagrada Familia with the crowds.
I talked to other tourists who were equally underwhelmed by Sagrada Familia. Others found it to be the most extraordinary place they had ever seen. Thus far Hagia Sophia holds the title of most extraordinary architecture in the world for me. As for Antoni Gaudi’s most famous architecture in Barcelona, I prefer Casa Batllo over Sagrada Familia. I would visit Casa Batllo again but I do not plan another visit to Sagrada Familia…for a few years anyway. After all Sagrada Familia is still under construction so I do plan to see it again – maybe in 2026 or so.
To plan a visit to Sagrada Familia or read up on the history of Barcelona’s most visited tourist attraction click here. And after your visit you can visit the park across the street to watch the parakeets and pigeons.
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