La Sagrada Família

The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family) is considered to be the symbol of Barcelona

La Sagrada Família

The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family) is considered to be the symbol of Barcelona by many residents, and the one place you shouldn’t miss when you visit the Catalan capital.

Initially intended to be a simple Roman Catholic church dedicated to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the church ultimately became the most prominent example of Catalan Modernism. Pope Benedict XVI declared it a basilica in 2010.

Dreamed up by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, the basilica exemplifies Gaudí’s philosophy that nature is the work of God. Gaudí sought to combine Christian speech and biblical allegories with complex natural symbols like organic, geometric shapes which are prominent in every column, pinnacle and stained glass window of the basilica.

The end result is an astounding architectural masterpiece which, despite being unfinished and under construction for nearly 140 years, has become one of the most visited monuments in Spain, receiving 4.7 million visitors in 2019.

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History of the Sagrada Familia

The creation and construction of the Sagrada Familia is living history.

Local bookseller Josep Maria Bocabella wanted to build an expiatory temple consecrated to the Holy Family. Bocabella initially assigned the project to the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar, who designed a neo-Gothic project, and began construction in 1882.

However, because of several disagreements with Bocabella, Antoni Gaudí took over the assignment. Gaudí conceived a groundbreaking design that pushed the boundaries of all known architectural styles.

Gaudí’s primary goal was to build a church with facades that highlighted the three phases in the life of Jesus: Nativity, Passion and Glory. The architect’s vision was to incorporate organic symbolism in the architecture, stained glass and design elements in order to tell Jesus’s story as well as highlight some key biblical histories.

In 1891, when development of the Nativity facade began, Gaudí realized that the construction of the Sagrada Família was such an ambitious project that he certainly would not see its completion in his lifetime. In fear of the project being stopped after his death and once the church acquired its worship function, Gaudí decided that, instead of building the central nave, he would start on the external part of the church.

At the time, Gaudí was also working on Casa Milà (La Pedrera) and when that was completed in 1912, he focused exclusively on the construction of the Sagrada Família. He worked on it until he died in 1926 and was buried inside the crypt. After Gaudi’s death, Domènec Sugrañes i Gras assumed the main role of architect.

The temple suffered heavy damage during Spain’s Civil War (1936-39), when a group of anarchists set it on fire, burning a significant part of Gaudí’s workshop. Fortunately, part of his material could be restored.

Work resumed in 1954 and it’s been under construction ever since.

Why is the Sagrada Família not finished and when will be completed?

Even with today’s technology, skilled architects and engineers are finding it challenging to decipher and bring to life the complex geometric shapes that compose what is going to be the tallest church in the world (172.5m).

In addition, despite its international renown, the Sagrada Família is a project that was promoted by the people for the people, so it has always relied on private donations. There have been times in history when there wasn’t any funding, especially during Spain’s Civil War and the decades that followed. It was only after the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, when the city started to gain an international reputation and the number of visitors increased, that construction accelerated exponentially.

The Sagrada Família was expected to be completed in 2026 – for the centenary of Gaudí’s death – but its completion has been postponed because of COVID-19. Work has resumed already but a new completion date hasn’t been announced.

Visiting the Sagrada Família

The site of the Sagrada Família has four main sections: the basilica, the school building, museum and towers. In the past, each section required its own ticket to visit. However, due to COVID-19, the only portion available to visitors is the basilica. 

To visit the basilica, an individual ticket with an audio-guide app – available in 16 languages – costs €26. If you prefer visiting it on a guided tour – available in 6 languages – an individual ticket costs €27, which also allows you to visit the site on your own after the 50-minute tour is finished.

The Basilica

The Basilica is composed of five naves, built in the shape of a Latin cross, the roof of which is supported by the angled pillars. These angled pillars are a treelike column structure that creates the effect of a living forest with dappled light streaming in.

Gaudí Museum

The Gaudí Museum has a recreation of the architect’s workshop, as well as a set of his materials and mockups.

School Building

Gaudí designed and built the school building, which was for the workers’ children, in 1909. Its design is similar to that of the Casa Milà.

The Towers

Four towers representing the 12 apostles ascend from each of the three exterior facades (Nativity, Passion and Glory). Gaudí built the Nativity Facade, and in 2005 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, along with the crypt. On the west side is the controversial Passion Facade, whose architect, Josep Maria Subirachs, has been heavily criticized for being too abstract and not strictly following Gaudí’s model. The unfinished Glory Facade is supposed to be the most gorgeous of the three once it’s complete and crowned with its missing four towers.

How to get to the Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Família is in the Eixample district, in Mallorca, 401 street. Metro lines 2 and 5 stop at Sagrada Família station. From Barcelona’s Old City, it’s a 30- to 40-minute walk.

When to visit the Sagrada Familia

The Basilica is open to visitors every day of the year, subject to change due to special events taking place inside.

To avoid the largest crowds, it’s best to visit early weekday mornings.

A complete visit takes 2-3 hours.

Things to do around the Sagrada Familia

The Right Eixample is home to some of Barcelona’s major attractions which can be easily visited after your Sagrada Família tour. An unmissable landmark is Hospital Sant Pau, a building designed by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, one of the most influential architects of Catalan Modernism after Gaudí. Monumental, a former but imposing bullfighting arena, is also worth the detour. Finish your Eixample circuit at Barcelona’s triumphal arch, located at Passeig de Lluís Companys, a palm-lined boulevard that leads to Parc de la Ciutadella, the largest park in town.

Where to eat near the Sagrada Família

Be aware that all restaurants surrounding the Sagrada Família cater to the tourist crowd. However, by walking just a few blocks, you come to a particularly local area of l’Eixample.

For Spanish tapas and wine, we recommend Hasta Los Andares. For authentic Spanish tortillas, look for La Granota and, for traditional Catalan food, grab a bite at Olé Mallorca, which tends to get busy at lunch time (2 to 3pm). In the morning, you must stop at Puiggròs, a one hundred year-old patisserie.

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Prambanan Temple

Prambanan Temple

Top choice in Central Java

Prambanan Temple

Comprising the remains of some 244 temples, World Heritage–listed Prambanan is Indonesia’s largest Hindu site and one of Southeast Asia’s major attractions. The highlight is the central compound, where eight main and eight minor temples are assembled on a raised platform – an architectural crescendo of carved masonry and staircases, the high note of which is Candi Shiva Mahadeva. Prambanan sits within a large park dotted with lesser temples – a day is needed to do the site justice.

Extended over two centuries, building at Prambanan commenced in the middle of the 9th century – around 50 years after Borobudur. Little else is known about the early history of this temple complex, although it’s thought that it may have been built by Rakai Pikatan to commemorate the return of a Hindu dynasty to sole power in Java. The whole Prambanan Plain was abandoned when the Hindu-Javanese kings moved to East Java and, in the middle of the 16th century, a great earthquake toppled many of the temples. Prambanan remained in ruins for years, its demise accelerated by treasure hunters and locals searching for building materials. While efforts were made in 1885 to clear the site, it was not until 1937 that reconstruction was first attempted. Most temples have now been restored to some extent, and, like Borobudur, Prambanan was listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1991.
Prambanan suffered extensive damage in the 2006 earthquake. Although the main temples survived, hundreds of stone blocks collapsed or were cracked (479 blocks in the Shiva temple alone). Today the main structures have been restored, but a lot of work remains to be done and parts of the complex are still off limits.

In the main courtyard, Candi Shiva Mahadeva, dedicated to Shiva, is not only the largest of the temples but also the finest. The main spire soars 47m high and the temple is lavishly carved. The ‘medallions’ that decorate its base have a characteristic Prambanan motif – small lions in niches flanked by kalpatura (trees of heaven) and a menagerie of stylised half-human, half-bird kinnara (heavenly beings). The vibrant scenes carved onto the inner wall of the gallery encircling the temple are from the Ramayana – they tell how Lord Rama’s wife, Sita, is abducted and how Hanuman, the monkey god, and Sugriwa, the white-monkey general, eventually find and release her.

The temple’s interior comprises a main chamber at the top of the eastern stairway with a four-armed statue of Shiva the Destroyer. The statue is notable for the fact that this mightiest of Hindu gods stands on a huge lotus pedestal, a symbol of Buddhism. In the southern cell is the potbellied and bearded Agastya, an incarnation of Shiva as divine teacher; in the western cell is a superb image of the elephant-headed Ganesha, Shiva’s son and the god of knowledge. Ganesha’s right hand, usually holding his ivory tusk, was broken off in the earthquake. In the northern cell, Durga, Shiva’s consort, can be seen killing the demon buffalo. Some people believe that the Durga image is actually an image of the Slender Virgin, who, legend has it, was turned to stone by a man she refused to marry. She is still an object of pilgrimage and her name is often used for the temple group.

Candi Vishnu touches 33m and sits just north of Candi Shiva Mahadeva. The temple’s impressive reliefs tell the story of Lord Krishna, a hero of the Mahabharata epic, while a four-armed image of Vishnu the Preserver crowns the inner sanctum.

Candi Brahma is Candi Vishnu’s twin temple. South of Candi Shiva Mahadeva, it is carved with the final scenes of the Ramayana. The spectacular mouth doorway is noteworthy and the inner chamber contains a four-headed statue of Brahma, the god of creation.

The park surrounding Prambanan contains a number of lesser-known temples, including the Buddhist temple Candi Sewu. Dating from around AD 850, it comprises dozens of outer shrines, decorated with stupas. Originally it was surrounded by four rings of 240 smaller ‘guard’ temples, leading to its name ‘Thousand Temples’. Outside the compound stood four sanctuaries at the points of the compass, of which Candi Bubrah, now reduced to its stone foundation, is the most southern. The renovated main temple has finely carved niches around the inner gallery, which would once have held bronze statues. To reach Candi Sewu, hire a bike (20,000Rp) or take the toy train or golf cart (20,000Rp) that shuttle visitors back and forth from the exit of Prambanan’s main temple site; failing that, it’s a pleasant 20-minute walk from the main complex through semi-shaded parkland.

Tickets for Prambanan can be purchased online. Options include a combined Prambanan–Kraton Ratu Boko package and a Prambanan–Borobudur discount ticket. Note that the latter is only valid for two days and doesn’t cover the extra surcharge to visit at sunrise or sunset.


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How to Reach Newark

This travel guide to Newark might help you if you are visiting the town for the first time. The city is well-connected through land, air, and even water. You can take a flight to the Newark Liberty International Airport from anywhere in USA or the world to reach this dynamic city. Multiple trains from major towns of America are also available in case you want to reach Newark. You can also opt for a ferry or boat to reach Port Liberty Cruise Terminal via water. A road trip in a car or a bus is also an amazing experience that you can try based on your preferences. 

Places to Visit in Newark

There are countless tourist attractions in Newark that will make your trip to this beautiful city memorable. Symphony Hall showcases the cultural diversity of the town perfectly. From architectural wonders such as Basilica Cathedral of Sacred Heart to the natural ones like the Branch Brook Park, you will love exploring these spots. Although some places like South Mountain Reservation or Turtleback Zoo are located a few miles drive away, these are definitely worth your visit. Some of the best places to visit in Newark are mentioned below: 

  1. New Jersey Performing Arts Center
  2. The Newark Museum of Art
  3. Prudential Center
  4. Branch Brook Park
  5. St. Lucy’s Church
  6. Newark Public Library
  7. Military Park
  8. Museum of the Old First Ward
  9. Grammy Museum Experience Prudential Center
  10. Greater Newark Conservancy

Hotels in Newark

Wondering where to stay in Newark? The dynamic city attracts millions of visitors annually and hence is home to countless world-class hotels and other accommodation options. If you are planning a longer stay or are concerned about your privacy, you can also opt to stay at various Airbnbs in Newark. The city boasts of excellent hospitality and the management and staff at these hotels offer great services to the guests as well. From complimentary breakfast, Wi-Fi, meeting rooms to spa, you can utilize these facilities at most of the hotels. Some of the top places to stay in Newark include:

  1. Ramada by Wyndham East Orange
  2. Hudson Plaza Motel
  3. Rodeway Inn
  4. Hampton Inn & Suites Newark-Harrison-Riverwalk
  5. Courtyard by Marriott Newark Elizabeth
  6. Robert Treat Hotel
  7. Haiban Inn
  8. Peachtree Suites
  9. Courtyard Lyndhurst Meadowlands
  10. TRYP by Wyndham Newark Downtown

Restaurants in Newark

People from different parts of the world live in this dynamic city. Also, Newark attracts millions of business travelers, students, and tourists from all over the globe. Hence, you can find countless restaurants in Newark serving delicacies from an array of cuisines; apart from the local dishes. If you want to try food in Newark be it local or international, you can check out the following places:

  1. Portucale Restaurant
  2. Luigi’s Italian Tradition
  3. Sabor Unido
  4. Adega Grill
  5. Allegro Seafood Grill
  6. Casa d’ Paco
  7. Casa Vasca
  8. Spanish Tavern
  9. McWhorter Barbecue
  10. Krug’s Tavern

Best Time to Visit Newark

Winters can be very severe in Newark and summer might be extreme for a few tourists. The best time to visit Newark can be between March and July or the months of spring and fall. If you are a nature enthusiast, you must consider visiting Newark in the month of April. This is when the gorgeous Cherry Blossoms are in their full bloom and offer a mesmerizing sight to all the guests touring the city. 

There are numerous tourist attractions in Newark that you can discover to make your trip to this city fun-filled. Are you planning a trip to this town soon? If yes, comment below and let us know if you found this travel guide to Newark helpful. 

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