Throwback Thursday: Barcelona

Difficult to travel at present, so let’s enjoy images from earlier trips. In this Throwback Thursday post, I share digitized 35mm photos from my 1987 trip to Barcelona! I love design and Antoni Gaudí takes architecture to his own sky high level. I was experimenting with black and white film at Sagrada Familia cathedral. I like how it plays with the light and shadows of the spaces in the structure.

sagrada familia 1987 front
Sagrada Familia facade  Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

Sad to say, the first time I went to Barcelona, before I studied in Spain I was too busy worrying about my four suitcases arriving from Germany to get out and see the sights. I know, packing light was a talent that developed over time for me…

My roommate in Barcelona I’d met on the train from France asked me several times to see the Cathedral with her. I was too busy waiting. Make that two lessons learned! Pack light and see what you can when you’re there; two tips from my as yet unpublished travel book, Supergringa in Spain: A Coming of Age Memoir.

sagrada familia 1987 side interior
Sagrada Familia sanctuary side  Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

After the program in Spain, I was determined to see the Sagrada Familia. This time I couldn’t get my friend from the program to go. She and I’d traveled north from Toledo together. She argued she wasn’t Catholic (neither was I). She was a feminist (so was I). I didn’t want her to miss out. “It’s just a building under construction, not even a church yet,” I angled. “Okay,” she said. We left to tour Gaudí’s masterpiece.

sagrada familia 1987 side
Sagrada Familia Side Spires  Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

As an architecture fan, I was thrilled. For her, it was just so-so. I think I paid for her ticket, since she was there to keep me company. I wandered around the whole structure, she looked here and there. I was uplifted that this was an historic building. My friend wasn’t as comfortable in this Catholic basilica.

sagrada familia 1987 front interior
Sagrada Familia Front Interior Photo: Rebecca Cuningham

I had seven photos left on my roll of film. I chose carefully the views I recorded. We were able to go up into the balcony, I saved two photos for that height. So disappointed the only photo of a spire turned out blurry. No retakes in those days. As for the second photo, I suppose it is historically interesting to look at the piles of stone blocks… (laughing at myself) It is a view that no longer exists. I have not had the chance to return since then. I’ve been looking at people’s Sagrada Familia photos online with amazement.

sagrada familia 1987 sanctuary

Today, there is a roof, stained glass windows and 8 spires, and the church is still under construction. After the roof was raised, the first mass was celebrated in 2010. The estimated completion date is 2026. Here’s a photo (not mine) of how it looked in 2009.

2009 Sagrada Familia Photo: Bernard Gagnon

As a parting nugget of information, it took the Sagrada Familia building 134 years to get a building permit! It cost 4.6 million Euros, a discount from the 12 million it would have cost a for profit business. The permit application was filed in 1885, but was not approved by the Barcelona City Council until last year. Construction is now legal, retroactively.

What photos would you like to digitize and/or share?

¡Olé! Gracias for reading Fake Flamenco and commenting! –Rebecca


Rebecca Cuningham

33 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Barcelona

  1. Great post Rebecca! I love Barcelona, and the Sagrada Familia is a masterpiece. I saw it first many years ago when the inside had not even been built, then in 2006, then in 2016 and what a difference!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. No, not in 2006, but by 2016 it was built and the Church was operational. Yes, it is a lovely place. Last time I was there I was surprised by the increase in entrance price and the amount of lines, we had to make an appointment to queue up to enter! But it was quite worth it!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Amazing pictures Rebe’. I remember going to Spain on vacation as a child, ’65 I believe. We stayed in Tarragona, went to Barcelona once. No-one talked of la sagrada familia. I remember Barcelona as dark, sooty, dirty. Everybody dressed in black.Franco times. From what I see on-line and my daughters who’ve gone afew times, it has changed quite a bit.
    Thanks for the time-travel.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I first time, probably the movie “Vicky Cristina Barcelona”. I admit to being very superficial. I liked Barcelona so much that I returned on another vacation. Although time is growing a bit short of me, I would not be surprised it I returned one more time.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. My first visit to la Sagrada Familia was when my daughter was five. Who knew that twenty five years later she’d be living in Catalonia herself, with a Spanish partner and baby! However, the building we saw was not as chaotic as this, as it must have been about 1994. But my abiding memory is of climbing up some tower that was then open to the public, and gazing down into the church below to see a large lorry-with-crane at work, looking like some insignificant toy in comparison with the scale of the building. That was somehow even more awe-inspiring than the present soon-to-be-finished building

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your Sagrada Familia story, Margaret! I feel the same way, that the dramatic height of the pillars from the balcony without a roof was tremendous. Fun to think about your daughter living there. Perhaps that visit had a deeper effect on her than you realized. ; ) Once we’re all traveling again and construction ceases, I look forward to seeing the church again. : )


  4. Thanks for the memories! I was a backpacker in Spain during the summer of 1987, and this is exactly how I remember my tour of the open-air Sagrada Familia. Your photos are so much better than mine 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s