Anyone who has traveled outside the US has probably stood in a church that is over a century old. But have you ever visited a church that has been under construction for over 131 years and most likely will need another century before it’s completed? Barcelona is home to such a church. The Gaudi cathedral is one of his ultimate masterpieces—La Basilica de la Sagrada Familia.
I had heard from many people how incredible the cathedral is and that it was a must-see in Barcelona. Being a fan of old religious buildings, I was quite eager to visit it. That is until I saw the ridiculous €14.80 admission price (about $20.53 USD per adult). Children 11 and over don’t get much of a price break, so I had to really think hard about spending around $40 to visit a church.
In the end, I decided that seeing something that won’t be found anywhere else in the world was worth it. Tigger has expressed many times how he is “over” visiting churches. When I explained there is no other church on earth like this place, he agreed to go.
As we entered the basilica, I heard him say, “Okay, I’m impressed.” I have rarely ever heard those words uttered by him, and they have never been used to describe a church or temple. When we were done with our visit, I asked him to rate the experience, and he gave it a 10/10, which was another shock for me.
If you can handle larger groups, it is recommended to do the visit with a tour guide. We chose to do it with an audio guide instead (it’s the same price, €19.30). While you will learn some interesting things, I think the guide is much more informative. You get a lot more detail from them than from the audio guides. Although, kids are probably more apt to use the audio guide and would probably tune out a human.
Tips for visiting the Gaudi Cathedral
- If you don’t buy your ticket(s) online, you’re a fool. Seriously. We heard from people who had been standing in line for over an hour. If you get your tickets online, you may wait for about 15 minutes. You also get a tiny discount with online tickets. Save yourself a major hassle and buy them online. Note the entrance for people with online tickets is on the side of the church with the more ancient-appearing facade, on the other side from the park. If you chose the audio guide, turn to your right at the top of the stairs to pick them up.
- The website can be confusing about whether or not photos will be allowed. You can take photos of almost all of the cathedral’s interior (and, of course, all the exterior is fair game).
- As it is an active worship center, they are fairly picky about dress. Women will probably be asked to cover their shoulders, and men should plan on wearing pants/trousers. Neither gender should plan on wearing anything that doesn’t at least cover their knees. Hats are not allowed to be worn indoors, and there are staff who will make sure you remove them.
- There is a museum beneath the basilica which is fairly interesting. Plan on spending at least 1-1/2 hours at the basilica.
- If you are arriving via the Verdaguer metro station (lines L5 and L4), take the Sant Joan exit. As you come up the stairs make a U-turn and take the street toward your right. This will lead you to the basilica.
Is it worth the price?
That’s a tough one for me. It’s really expensive for a church. On the other hand, it is incredibly unique. While I didn’t appreciate spending almost $40 USD to enter, I am very glad I went. It’s really quite the experience.
Have you visited the Gaudi Cathedral? What did you think of it?