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The façades of the Sagrada Familia

Façade of the Birth, Suffering and Salvation Way

No matter how different the facades of the Sagrada Familia are, they have one thing in common: they are full of symbolism.

The facade of birth

The facade of the birth of Christ was completed first. It consists of three major portals - one large middle door and two smaller side doors - and four bell towers. This unit breaks above all bacause of the very novel towers in the Gothic style.
The three stems are dedicated to the main dogmas of Catholicism and the origin of childhood and youth of Jesus.

The tripartite facade forms a uniform landscape, in which human figures are particularly noticeable. It is an allegory of the wonders of the emerging and constantly changing nature, the creator of all forms of existence.

Between the three gates you can recognize two very high and richly drawn pillars, which are crowned with palm trees and rest on two large stone turtles. The turtles are symbols of invariability and guarantee - in the traditional Chinese culture, which was very well known towards the end of the 19th Century in the western world - the resistance of the cosmos. On the contrary, the two chameleons on both sides of the great facade certainly illustrate the constantly changing nature.

Building and architectural elements form the basis of Fassade of Birth. There are especially the many decorations and large number of sculptures which attract attention.

The left portal is called "Portal of Hope", the medium is called the "Portal of Mercy" and the right the "Portal of Faith". Between the portals are above the pillars angel with trumpets, which announce the end of world. About the portals, hardly recognizable, the astrological zodiac spans signs from the star, which representation as pagan view that the fate lies in the stars, actually was not allowed.

The three portals of the facade of the Birth of Christ

To the left of the main entrance Portal of Hope Gaudí shows scenes that are not giving reasons for hope. They show e.g. the murder of children by Herod, the flight to Egypt, a child who has a dead dove in his hand.
The arch above the gate is a two-man saw, displayed are tools, with occupations as construction related to it. The portal will be crowned by a rock of the mountain Montserrat.

The architect Antoni Gaudí

Barcelona's famous Art Nouveau architect, Antoni Gaudí, worked at the Sagrada Familia until his death.

Antoni Gaudí

The middle and largest portal is the Portal of Mercy. The portal is divided in two by a pillar. A snake with the apple of sin in its mouth twines around the pillar. It is the flu scene, Josef and Maria pray to the Christ child. Gaudí used death masks of diseased people and replicas of the workers' faces, that were involved in the Sagrada Familia. In a higher level above the portal you can see how Jesus crowns Maria. This demonstrates the Mary's veneration in Catalan impressively.

The right Portal of Faith shows some scenes from the Gospels. Above the gate is a cruel presentation of the Heart of Jesus, filled with thorns. There are several characters groups. They show Maria visiting her cousin, Joseph and Mary in adoration of Jesus. On the upper levels the main contents of the Catholicism are represented: the Trinity, the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, the Eucharist and the wisdom of God, striking presented by a hand with an eye on it.

The Tree of Life

On top of the Facade of Birth, the three portals are crowned by the pinnacle in the form of a cypress. On the tree of life is a bridge between the two towers. From here you have a breathtaking view of Barcelona.

The Facade of the Suffering Way

The architect Antoni Gaudí

Barcelona's famous Art Nouveau architect, Antoni Gaudí, worked at the Sagrada Familia until his death.

Antoni Gaudí

"If I had begun constructing this building with this façade people would have distanced from this work." Gaudi gave this statement for not starting the Sagrada Familia with the portal of the Suffering Way. A proof of what a dramatic impression he wanted to awaken.

Gaudí designed the portal during a serious illness in 1911.
The last weeks of life of Jesus were told. The figures remind of the expressionism, one of Gaudí's favorite art direction. The pillars of the canopy are reminiscent of bones. The facade and the portal were not finished in Gaudí's lifetime.

In 1988, the sculptor Josep Maria Subirachs was delegated with the task of creating the sculptures. He worked on the basis of preserved drawings Gaudí's. This began with the execution in 1989. At a scene with three levels of images the sculptor shows the story of suffering Way from the last Supper to the death of Jesus. Subirachs, whose style is characterized by sharp edges, has defined a sequence of images in the form of an inverted S.
The figures are edged and Subirachs gives riddles to the viewer to solve, e.g. the magic square, its sum always is 33 - the age of Jesus at his death. Other interpretations are possible.

The Facade of Bliss

The Facade of Bliss is now the largest and most splendid facade of the Sagrada Familia. The four towers are still higher than the other two facades. This facade is not finished yet.

Gaudí wanted to show the last four events of a human on the Facade of the Bliss: the death, the last judgement, hell and bliss.
Seven entrances are on this side of the church.

Important information

Mallorca, 401

Metro: Sagrada Familia (L2, L5)
Bus Turístic: Sagrada Familia

Opening times
November-February: 9.00-18.00
March: 9.00-19.00
April-September: 9.00-20.00
Oktober: 9.00-19.00
25 and 26 December,
1 and 6 January: 9.00-14.00
There are sometimes long queues at the checkout.

Admission: € 14.80
With Barcelona Card: € 13.80
Reduced admission: € 12.80
Audio guide: € 5.00
Lift ride: € 4,50
Disabled (65%): free admission(+1 accompanying person)
With the ticket you can view Gaudí's workshop next to the building of the Museum of the Sagrada Familia.

Tips for visiting the Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia is the most visited monument in Spain. Therefore there can be long queues in front of the pay booths and the elevators at peek times. In the late morning the queues are the longest. So if you don't want to stay in the queue, use the time to look at the cathedral from the distance, maybe from the two places right and left of the Sagrada Familia.

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