In researching for our trip, we had read of strict dress codes for entry into cathedrals/churches in Spain and France. For men and women, that meant covered shoulders, knee-length shorts/skirts, no bare midriffs and, for gentlemen, no hats (What? A dress code more strict for men than women?). We weren’t sure how strictly enforced these dress codes were, but to be on the safe side, I had shopped and packed accordingly and was sure to carry a cardigan when I wore my sleeveless tops. Better to err on the side of caution than to miss out on some amazing opportunities. In general, I have noticed that dressing modestly seems to keep options open and it gives the added bonus of blending in (at least a little more).
While in line to enter the Barcelona Cathedral, we saw guards denying people entry to the cathedral. It was then that we noticed the sign near the door depicting the dress code entry requirements. I didn’t get a picture of it, but I did find this one online, so you can check it out. I was relieved to see our planning and packing had paid off! Those in front of us started fidgeting uncomfortably as they realized they would be forbidden entry; one girl was trying to fashion her hoodie into a skirt to cover her bare legs, and another girl was hiking up her pants in hope of covering her stomach. In reality, all she was accomplishing was creating a major wedgie.
We walked past the guard without a problem to enjoy the last 45 minutes of free visitation time (it is free during the mornings and evenings when there aren’t as many tourists). Our breath was taken away as we stepped through a small door cut into the huge door and into a quiet, peaceful interior; it was stunning, majestic, and awe-inspiring. It definitely isn’t the most beautiful cathedral on the planet, or the largest or most intricate, but something about cathedrals makes me just want to stop, think, and listen. They force me to acknowledge my smallness and humanity and come to terms with just how insignificant and powerless I really am. I love that. Buildings and art are able to confront me on a level that humans can’t, in a quiet and personal manner rather than the loud, in-your-face method that humans seem to revert to. I think it is because art challenges your spirit and your soul rather than your pride and intellect.
We wandered around wide-eyed and gaping, trying to soak up the experience. There were many beautiful side chapels in the cathedral, and it was fun to read about the different saints, even if some only listed their names. I found it incredible that the lives of individuals who lived hundreds of years ago are still being remembered today and, as a result, are still having an impact. Amazing. It challenged me to take my life a little more seriously; my life, though no one may write about me, has an impact on the future. This is true whether or not I want it to be, and the sooner I acknowledge the and live/adjust my life accordingly, the better, more positive my impact should be.