The Sagrada Família, the astonishing Gothic cathedral in the L'Eixample area, is Barcelona’s crowning glory.
While in L'Eixample, I do eventually peep inside and it is like staring up at the canopy of some giant mythical forest, the columns resembling slender, bleached-out trees, rainbow colors streaming through the stained glass windows. “It’s the single most impressive thing I’ve ever seen,” says an American visitor. “I have erased every other church from my memory now I’ve seen this.”
How much more impressed would she be if she knew the gargantuan structure is still only half the size the architect intended? Gaudí was run over by a streetcar fairly soon after construction had begun and never saw his dream of a people’s cathedral realized. His supporters have tirelessly raised funds with a completion date of some time around 2026 now scheduled. “It’s good business for Barcelona for the Sagrada Familia to be a never-ending project,” says Marc, who runs city cycling tours. “We have a typical phrase here, that if something seems as though it will never be finished, it’s a ‘Sagrada Família’ project.”
Unfinished business is nothing new for Barcelona; La Seu, the Gothic cathedral, took 600 years to complete. It is dedicated to Santa Eularia, a 13-year old shepherdess who was murdered in the fourth century by the Romans for her Christian beliefs, put through 13 unspeakably horrible tortures, culminating in decapitation.
Today, 13 pure white geese, symbolizing her age, her virginity and the number of tortures, inhabit the leafy cloister, honking furiously at camera-toting tourists.
Barcelona bound? Check out this Truly Wonderful hostel near the Sagrada!