Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Catalonia, is one of the most diverse and popular tourist destinations in the world. Drawn in by fine food and wine, a depth of art and history, along with a proximal beach and mediterranean climate it is not hard to see why.
Only on a short break, I had covered over 10 miles of walking the sites on both days I had in the city. Seeing the Gaudi artworks and architecture, and covering all four corners of this cultural haven, there was one particular sight and experience that both metaphorically and physically shone above the rest. The Sagrada Familia is not subtle. It stands exposed and proud of the rest of the city, the Gaudi designed spires perpetually surrounded by scaffolding and support as workers endeavour to complete and rework the monument.
Arriving early evening, we were likely to be inside the building during sunset. This was not by design, but would be one of the most fortunate moments I have experienced as what was to behold us was simply out of this world. On entering the building it is clear that there was a spiritual and etherial vibe to the construction. Milling my way through the hundreds of tourists admiring the intricacy present throughout, the sun began to drop lower in the sky to illuminate the interior. It was low enough to shine through the countless prodigious stain glass windows that interrupt the decorative walls, and as it dropped lower and lower cast a varied hue on every surface of the building. Greens, violets, and deep transcendent reds were so intense it felt like the colours had been painted on every surface. If by design, it is genius. It creates a masterpiece, a surreal and intense experience that transmits a meditative state across all those inside, and the noise levels palpably drop as speech becomes tougher and heads crane to the tallest of sections of the roof.
I made my way to the main open space at the front of the building. As I rounded the length of pews and turned to face one of the larger windows, a young couple embraced. It was such a special moment, silhouetted in front of the most beautiful of artworks, transient light beaming all around them and I felt truly privileged to witness this beautiful and caring contact between those who love each other most. It somehow felt symbolic. Moving of course, but more than that. It seems to represent the spirit inside the Sagrada Familia. Elegant and graceful, both this moment and the structure itself blended into a scene that will forever be imprinted in my mind.
As the low winter Catalonian sun dropped further, the colours became more muted. Still beaming onto the metallic surfaces and organ pipes, I was nearly closing time. As if reminiscent of most of my visit to this stunningly beautiful city, time was just not in abundance and I left feeling warm, spiritual and thankful that I had witness this special construction, and all the emotions and perspectives it conjures up.