When touring Europe I made it a goal to see/tour as many castles and cathedrals as possible. I wanted to do this because the cathedrals in Europe are stunning and you will not see anything like them in the states. In Barcelona, is where you will find the famous, Sagrada Familia. For anyone who doesn't know, the Sagrada Familia is the largest, unfinished, Roman Catholic church in the world, designed by Antoni Gaudí. Yes I did say unfinished. The Sagrada Familia is known for always being under construction. Gaudí died before it was completed and it has been difficult to replicate what he had in mind. It has been in the process of building since 1882 and isn't scheduled to be completely finished until 2026.
Various architectural elements are organized to represent Christian symbolism. Gaudí's intention was to express Christian belief through the architecture and the beauty of the building and communicate the message of the Evangelists. In the middle is the tower dedicated to Jesus Christ and around it are four towers representing the Gospels. The tower above, crowned by a star, represents his mother, the Virgin Mary while the remaining 12 towers represent the 12 Apostles. The life and teachings of Jesus are represented on portals of the three facades. Each one represents one of the three crucial events of Christ's existence: his birth, his Passion, Death and Resurrection. Gaudí said that color was the expression of life which is why he decided to make its presence felt in the Sagrada Familia. I tell you about Gaudí's plans/intent with the cathedral because if you ever visit, understanding what he was going for helps give perspective on this beautiful cathedral.
Touring the inside of the Sagrada Familia, I was mesmerized by the beautiful colors shinning through the stain glassed windows as well as the unusual architecture. The combinations of the colors, and the geometry are phenomenal. I can't even describe the beauty of it. After the tour of the inside was finished, we headed to hike, more like ride up, the tower! One thing I have learned from my trip through Europe is if there is a tower, CLIMB IT! Every tower I've climbed has given me amazing views over cities (Clock Tower in Siena, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, now Barcelona). The towers can only be accessed by elevator (oh darn, no stairs to climb up). Visitors must take 400 stairs down though, not the elevator. Fair warning, the climb down can be a claustrophobic experience. You'll have to descend a very long, narrow series of corkscrew stairs. If you don't like being confined to small spaces, this may not be the best idea for you. The facades are not connected so that means you can either visit the Nativity facade or the the Passion facade, only one facade at a time. The Passion tower gives you a better view of the ocean and the Nativity tower gives you a better view of the mountain range behind Barcelona. The towers are a great way to explore the cathedral and enjoy amazing views of the city from 65 meters above the ground. Many people think going up the towers are about seeing the views of Barcelona, which it is partly about that. But more than just getting great views, you will be able to see and understand Gaudí's masterpiece. To see and enjoy intricate sculptures. If I still haven't convinced you to climb the tower, what about the bragging rights? To say you went up the tower of the Sagrada Familia? That you once stood at the top of the World's tallest religious structure? Plus wouldn't you want to see the eight towers which have taken more than 130 years to build? Not to mention it only costs five more euros to go up the tower, so it won't break the bank!
If touring the inside is something you are interested in, my advice would be to buy your ticket ahead of time. The line (without a ticket or trying to buy a same day ticket) is like Disney World line long. It could take hours. Some of my friends tried to buy a ticket when they were there and they weren't able to get in. You can buy tickets on the Sagrada Familia website and it gives you three different options for tours: 1) a guided tour 2) an audio tour 3) a do it yourself tour. I recommend either the audio or guided tour to not only see, but to learn. Tickets for the tower are not included in in the basic entry price, but can be purchased online as part of the combination ticket.
The edges are sharp, the colors are drastic, and all-in-all, it is breathtaking.