The Sagrada Familia – Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia Basilica By Antonio Gaudí
La Sagrada Familia Basilica By Antonio Gaudí / Migel /

History of the Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Família, meaning the “Holy Family” is Barcelona’s famous Catholic Church.  It is the most visited tourist attraction, with over 3 million visitors a year.

This famous building commenced construction in 1882 and will be completed in 2028.  It combines Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms.

By 1930 three additional towers had been added to the building.  This completed the northeast façade.  However, controversy erupted, and in 1936 anarchists unfortunately smashed up and burned the interior of the building, including all of the workshops, and more importantly the plans and models for the final construction.  This activity has caused many Catalonians to condemn the completion of the Catholic Basilica. The reason is they believe that the final building is very far removed from Gaudi’s actual plans.

Currently work is being undertaken on the main Glory Facade. Therefore the southeast end on Carrer de Mallorca is currently closed off.

In 1954 the building of the Passion façade started.  In 1987 the Jesus Christ sculptures depicting the crucifixion were added.  Josep Maria Subirachs i Sitjar, the Catalan sculptor, designed and made them.  The sculptors are very linear and quite distinctly different from what Gaudi would have probably designed.  His designs included a lot of very curvaceous lines.  This has caused a great deal of debate.  However, this façade and its sculptors are very distinct and quite moving to look at.

When the Basilica is completed the Glory Façade will be the main entrance.  The Basilica will have 18 towers.  Twelve of the towers will be on 3 facades: the Nativity, the Passion and the Glory façade.

Each of the facades will have 4 towers.  An additional four towers will represent the 4 evangelists.  These towers will be located around the central and largest middle tower.  The central and middle tower will be dedicated to Jesus Christ and will be 170 meters in height.  A final tower over the apse will be dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

La Sagrada Familia being build since 19 March 1882 and is not finished yet
La Sagrada Familia being build since 19 March 1882 and is not finished yet

World Heritage Site by UNESCO

The Cathedral has been validated as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site, albeit that the building is not yet completed.

Consecrated and minor Basilica

On 7th November 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated and proclaimed the building as a minor Basilica.  This means that the building has been dedicated purely for the purpose of dedication to religion.  Now a minor Basilica this means that it is a permanent and the highest designation a church building can have.

Antoni Gaudi

 Sagrada Familia Barcelona -Antoni Gaudí

Born in 1852, in Catalonia, Spain Antoni Gaudí, an architect designed this fabulous building. He studied architecture at the Escola Tècnica Superior d’Arquitectura in Barcelona from 1873 to 1877.  In 1878 after 5 years of hard work Gaudi was awarded the title of architect.

Elies Rogent, an architect himself who graduated in 1858 in Madrid said when he signed off Gaudi’s architect title, “Who knows if we have given this diploma to a nut or a genius.  Time will tell.”  This is quite an ironic statement, when we look back now, at how famous his work has become.

Gaudi died tragically, aged 73. Unfortunately a tram tragically hit him, on his way to the Sagrada Familia.  At this time the only parts of the Catholic Basilica completed were the crypt, the apse walls, one portal and one tower on the Nativity, Holy Family themed facade.  This was less than a quarter of the project yet to be completed.

He was a deeply religious man and is renowned for famously saying, “My boss is not in a hurry’.  Indeed it will be at least 146 years from start to finish of this magnificent building.

Gaudi Buildings

Roof of Casa Mila (La Pedrera) built in 1905-1910
Roof of Casa Mila (La Pedrera) built in 1905-1910 by Antoni Gaudi. / Filimonov /

The Sagrada Família is one of 12 Gaudi buildings in Barcelona and one of his 17 buildings that was constructed during his lifetime.  Two further buildings designed by Gaudi one, a Hotel Attraction for New York, and a further building in Tangier named the Franciscan Missions unfortunately never got to the construction stage.

Touring the Sagrada Familia

Down on ground level you can wander around the completed sections that have a fascinating museum.  In the museum there is plenty of information available about the history of Gaudi and his famous building.

Tickets Price :

If you want to make the most of your visit to the Sagrade Familia than just the entry ticket, for a modest fee you can pay an additional €9 for a 50 minute guided tour.  If you prefer to walk around and be guided more leisurely you can pick up an audio tour which costs €7.  To hire the audio tour you will need to provide formal identification such as a passport.

The lifts that go up inside the Nativity and Passion facades each have four sky-scraping towers.  These towers are the sides of the Cathedral.  The view from the top of the towers give the most breathtaking and stunning views over the whole of Barcelona and the beautiful blue crystal waters of the Mediterranean.

Entry tickets are from €15 per person and during the hot summer months large queues always gather around this famous, sacred building.  The last entry is approximately 2000 hours.  The views at this time on a summer’s evening are amazing.  On a clear day you can see for miles around this stunning city.

However, for those who either love or hate the building it is undeniably a huge fascination.  It is surrounded by lots of café’s and restaurants.  Once you have visited inside, one of the best ways to admire the building is to take a seat at one of these nearby cafes and view it from a distance.  If you look at it from the outside it really is a magnificent building.

 Organ pipes and ceiling, Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
Organ pipes and ceiling, Sagrada Familia, Barcelona / PlusONE /

You can never see enough of this fabulous Basilica.  Upon completion in 2028 the tourist numbers are bound to increase, make sure you see this building in it’s work of art stage, very soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *