La Sagrada Familia
As you make your way out of the Metro, you’ll catch your first glimpse of the masterpiece that is La Sagrada Família. Be prepared for the Basilica’s awe-inspiring architecture and one of the most iconic landmarks around the world. The lifework of Barcelona’s most celebrated architect, Antoni Gaudi, La Sagrada Família is truly unlike any other building in the world. Holidays to Barcelona must include a visit to La Sagrada Família for an unforgettable experience and it’s great for some amazing photo opportunities too.
Entrance tickets can be pre-booked online. It’s also possible to purchase tickets on arrival, although you may have to wait in a queue to buy your tickets on the day. Don’t worry, because the wait is worth it as you’ll get to step inside the huge Gothic Basilica for the very first time.
Visitors can arrange timed tickets, audio guides, guided tours, and separate tickets for the Gaudi House Museum. The Sagrada Família represents an expression in stone of the Christian faith and acts as a model of a united family. It provides an insight into the history of the church, sacred scriptures, dedication to saints and Christian worship, and is inspired by Gaudi’s love of nature and the Christian message.
Mathematics and art combine
Gaudi was born in 1852 in Reus, and went on to excel in Geometry and Arithmetic at school, in addition to learning crafts in his father’s workshop. He later joined the School of Architecture while working in the workshops as a carpenter, locksmith and glassmaker. He continued to excel in design, mathematical calculation, and drawing, before receiving his first official commission, after qualifying in Architecture in 1878. He dedicated his life to the development of La Sagrada Família until his tragic accidental death in 1926.
With construction starting in the 1880s and expected to be completed in 2026, a hundred years after Gaudi’s death, the church has been centuries in the making. With intricate details at every turn, it’s easy to see why it’s taken so long, as you witness the transformation from Gothic architecture to a new original design with balanced and self-supporting structures, which makes this temple so unique.
A celebration of religion
Gaudi’s original plan included 18 spires, chapels, towers and portals and once completed would include a taller spire symbolising Jesus Christ, making it the tallest church building in the world. Each tower symbolises elevation towards God and holds a special significance, including the four gospels and the 12 apostles. The tower above the apse crowned by a star represents the Virgin Mary. The portals include the portal of faith, hope and charity.
Despite it being incomplete, the church still attracts millions of visitors each year. The Expiatory Temple, as it is known, due to its donations and contributions of thousands of people every year, is a church with a central nave flanked by four aisles creating a Latin cross. The top of the cross is closed with a semi-circular apse. With these generous donations, people are helping transfer Gaudi’s dream of a superb piece of architecture into a reality.
Outside the church
Outside this spectacular building, you may notice the contrast in the colour of the irregular shaped stones between the back and front of the building. In addition to slight differences between the design of the old and new sections. Gaudi was actively involved in his creation until he died in 1926, continuously modifying and adjusting until it was exactly what he wished for. The nature of the existing and intricate designs mean that it can be interpreted differently by individual visitors. Work continues today to complete the project, and is showcased at the onsite museum.
The Basilica has three façades representing vital events in Jesus’ life, namely his birth, his passion, death and resurrection and finally the future glory. Inside La Sagrada Família Barcelona, you’ll notice the large angled pillars stretching high up to the tree-like branches that hold up the roof. Inspired by Gaudi’s love of nature, there are no straight lines inside the building, adding to its quirky charm..
Great views of the city
After you explore inside the Basilica, go through the large doors to see the intricate Nativity Facade. Then step back inside and take the lift, or the stairs if you’re feeling fit, up the 100-metre towers. From there, you’ll see incredible views across the city of Barcelona and beyond, before going back down the 400-plus steps of the spiral staircases or heading back into the lift.
Before leaving, make sure you pay a visit to the Gaudi House Museum, where you can find out more about La Sagrada Família’s colourful history through civil war and beyond. You can also pay your respects at Gaudi’s burial crypt and visit the place where Gaudi lived.
Today La Sagrada Família celebrates international and special Masses at the Basilica throughout the year, which are open to everyone. Visit early morning or late evening to witness the sun shining through the exquisite stained glass windows that fill the church with colour. The Nativity façade and crypt of the Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada Família now hold UNESCO World Heritage status.
A new travelling exhibition has been introduced to raise awareness of Gaudi’s outstanding construction. Gaudi always wanted the Expiatory Church of La Sagrada Família to be made by the people. In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the site as a minor Basilica, which is a testament to Gaudi’s work.
Holidays to Barcelona are your chance to visit to this extraordinary piece of Spanish history, which has been witnessed by generations so far. Described as breath-taking, astounding and wondrous, Gaudi’s architectonic language has made him world famous amongst 20th century architects, and his works remain revolutionary nearly a century after his death.