The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is one of Antoni Gaudi’s masterpieces. Although construction began in 1882, the church is still unfinished to this day. But don’t worry, the constructions are still on going and expected to be finished by 2026 for the 100th birthday of Gaudi.
The famous Sagrada Familia is one of the most popular sights in Barcelona and is reason enough for tourists from all over the world to visit the capital of the Spanish region of Catalonia. In which European metropolis do you have the opportunity to combine sightseeing with a beach holiday? Barcelona is diverse and colorful, everywhere in the city you will find the works and buildings of the Catalan artist Antoni Gaudi, some of them have even been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Gaudi’s works are examples of the movement of modernism, which, among other things, combined modern architecture with old materials. Between all these remarkable buildings, the Sagrada Familia is particularly eye-catching – an extraordinary basilica, which I would now like to introduce to you in more detail.
The Sagrada Familia is the most famous church in Barcelona and one of the most important sights in the city. For a full guide of best things to do in Barcelona, check our list!
You will hardly be able to miss it on your walk through Barcelona’s districts, because with its impressive towers, which are over 100 meters high, the basilica towers are over all the buildings nearby. The magnificent and detailed facades make the Sagrada Familia the highlight of the entire city.
Sagrada Familia – Gothic Revival, Modernism and Modern
The Sagrada Familia is always being worked on on some facade. The city’s ambitious goal: on the 100th anniversary of Antoni Gaudí’s death in 2026, the construction of the Sagrada Familia should finally be completed after 144 years.
During this long construction period, of course, some architectural styles were mixed together. There are elements of neo-Gothic, modernism and modernity in and on the building. They can be admired above all on the two facades of the church. The style in which the Sagrada Familia has been built to this day is unique in the world. Nowhere else will you find a comparable church building.
Let’s have a look at what makes Sagrada Familia this special:
The birth facade: An unmistakable style of Gaudi
The birth facade on the northeast side of the basilica, which Gaudí made his life’s work , shows the birth of Jesus and parts of his life.
The level of detail gives an idea of why it took so long to decorate this facade. Three portals that symbolize the Christian virtues of faith, love and hope encompass this biblical story. This is the facade, which was largely built by Gaudí himself and thus shows his unmistakable style. The bell towers of the birth facade were only completed after Gaudí’s death.
The passion facade: Clear structures and large figures
The passion facade on the southwest side of the church is the exact opposite of the birth facade. Instead of the rich decorations, you will find clear structures and large figures. The six sloping columns that support the facade are particularly striking . You can already tell from the different styles: the same master was not at work here. In 1986 the sculptor Josep Maria Subirachs began decorating the Passion facade and the work is far from over. Work on the facade of glory has not yet startedon the southeast side of the Sagrada Familia, 21 columns and two chapels are planned here. The pompous Sagrada Familia will continue to grow and change until 2026 – so there will always be new reasons for you to visit the building.
The towers – fantastic views over Barcelona
In addition to the facades, the towers, some of which even tower above the facades, are also under construction. Eight of the planned 18 towers , which are dedicated to the 12 apostles, the evangelists and Mary and Jesus Christ, are already standing and can even be visited from the inside. If you have enough stamina, you can enter the towers via a steep spiral staircase without railings, otherwise you can of course also take the elevator that will take you up in no time. The towers are connected by bridges. Once you have reached the top, you can visit all the towers without having to dismount again.
It is known that Gaudi is inspired by nature and these towers are believed to be a reflection of the Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia, Turkey.
Inside: Also a masterpiece
If you think the splendor of the facades can hardly be surpassed, then you should take a look at the basilica from the inside. As soon as you enter the basilica, its size and color will blow your mind.
The thick columns are made of different materials and therefore differ in their thickness and structure. All the columns converge under the roof of the church, reminiscent of the crown of a tree. Gaudi liked to be inspired by nature. Therefore it is not surprising that these elements can always be found in his works.
The whole scenario is perfectly staged by the light that shines through the colorful glass windows. The eye-catcher of the interior is the raised altar with a canopy decorated with grapevines. Behind the altar, the Christmas facade shines, which is also a feast for the eyes thanks to its bright colors. By the way: At the moment we are still looking for an organ that is able to fill the entire basilica with sound, because there is no such instrument yet.
Good to know: In 2010, the dedication of the church to the papal Basilica minor also took place in this huge altar room . This dedication is an honorary title for churches. The fact that the Sagrada Familia received it without being completed simply speaks for its breathtaking architecture.
The crypt under the Sagrada Familia
If you have the opportunity, you should also visit the crypt , which is located under the Sagrada Familia.
This part is completed, services are held here regularly, so the crypt may not be open to visitors. Antoni Gaudí was also buried in the crypt in 1926 after he contributed a large part to the completion of the Sagrada Familia. There is also dedicated a museum in the middle of the basilica to him.