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Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

Barcelona, Spain, Europe
401 Carrer de Mallorca
Spain 08013
Tel: 34 93 207 3031's insider take:

Never mind that it's a cliché: If you see only one sight in Barcelona, head to the Eixample and see Gaudí's resplendent Sagrada Familia. An architectural "beauty and the beast," it is at once monstrous and breathtakingly beautiful—Modernisme in its ideal state. The church completely embraces the movement's idea of marrying nature with the handicraft of man: An organic quality, earthy tones, and steeples that seem to drip rather than stand make it look as though it has actually grown out of the ground rather than been constructed on top of it. Cavelike windows are inhabited by gargoyles and monsters, and religious scenes from the Last Supper to the Crucifixion are depicted on the facade. Gaudí is buried beneath the nave—he dedicated 40 years to the building, the last 14 of those living there—and in some sense he's still watching over the progress of his life's greatest work from the grave. The church was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI in late 2010, meaning that services can now be held here, well before the expected completion date of 2026.—Updated by Suzanne Wales

Open daily 9 am to 6 pm, October through March; 9 am to 8 pm, April through September.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.