Basilica of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona: history and most interesting facts

Tiempo de lectura: 7 minutos
Sagrada Familia barcelona

The Sagrada Familia is an iconic basilica in Barcelona, Spain, which attracts millions of visitors every year. This architectural masterpiece, designed by Antoni Gaudí, is not only a place of worship but also a symbol of the city’s rich history and culture. In this blog post, we will explore the history, architectural features, and most interesting facts about the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

What is the history of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona?

Sagarada Familia Barcelona under construction. Photo taken in 1915.

The history of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona dates back to 1882 when a bookseller named Josep Maria Bocabella decided to build a church in the city. He was inspired by a visit to the Vatican and wanted to create a monumental structure dedicated to the Holy Family. Initially, architect Francisco de Paula del Villar was commissioned to design the church, but after a disagreement, he resigned from the project.

In 1883, the young and talented Antoni Gaudí took over as the lead architect, and it was under his guidance that the Sagrada Familia began to take shape as the awe-inspiring basilica we know today.

How long did Gaudí spend working on the Sagrada Familia?

Gaudí dedicated over 40 years of his life to the construction of the Sagrada Familia, transforming it into an architectural masterpiece. His vision for the basilica was ambitious and groundbreaking, combining elements of Gothic and Art Nouveau styles with his unique organic approach to design. 

Throughout his life, Gaudí worked tirelessly on the project, even living on-site during his final years. Unfortunately, he passed away in 1926, leaving the basilica incomplete. At the time of his death, only about a quarter of the structure had been finished.

What happened after Gaudí died?

Since Gaudí’s passing, numerous architects and craftsmen have continued working on the Sagrada Familia, striving to bring his vision to life. The construction has faced many setbacks and challenges, including the destruction of Gaudí’s original plans and models during the Spanish Civil War in 1936.

Despite these obstacles, the basilica has continued to progress, with new technologies and building techniques helping to realize Gaudí’s designs. Today, the Sagrada Familia is approximately 70% complete, with the current target for completion set for 2026. This will mark the 100th anniversary of Gaudí’s death. This iconic basilica stands as a testament to Gaudí’s genius and the enduring legacy of his architectural vision.

Who was Antoni Gaudí?

Antoni Gaudí

Antoni Gaudí, born on June 25, 1852, in Reus, Spain, was a renowned architect and a key figure in the Catalan Modernisme movement. Gaudí’s unique architectural style was heavily influenced by his love for nature, his deep religious beliefs, and his fascination with geometry.

Throughout his life, Gaudí created numerous iconic buildings and structures, including Park Güell, Casa Batlló, and Casa Milà. All of these have become major tourist attractions in Barcelona. However, it is the Sagrada Familia, the monumental basilica that remains under construction to this day, which is considered his magnum opus.

Was the Sagrada Familia his favourite project?

Gaudí’s life was marked by his dedication to his craft and his unwavering commitment to his projects. He was known for his meticulous attention to detail. He often worked on-site alongside his team of craftsmen to ensure that his designs were executed perfectly. In his later years, Gaudí became increasingly focused on the Sagrada Familia, devoting the majority of his time and energy to the project. He even took up residence on the construction site. He lived in a small workshop where he could oversee the progress firsthand.

 Tragically, on June 7, 1926, Gaudí was struck by a tram while walking to the Sagrada Familia. He passed away three days later. He was buried in the basilica’s crypt, his final resting place among the architectural marvels he had dedicated his life to creating. Today, Antoni Gaudí’s innovative designs and enduring influence on architecture continue to captivate. They inspire people around the world.

Architectural Features of the Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia arches Barcelona

The architectural style of the Sagrada Familia is a unique fusion of Gothic and Art Nouveau. It showcases Antoni Gaudí’s innovative and groundbreaking approach to design. Gaudí’s style was heavily influenced by nature, which is evident throughout the basilica’s structure. The organic shapes, tree-like columns, and intricate details all reflect Gaudí’s desire to harmonize architecture with the natural world.

This distinctive style has made the Sagrada Familia one of the most recognizable and iconic landmarks in the world.

One of the key elements of the Sagrada Familia’s architecture is its use of light and colour. Gaudí believed that light played a crucial role in creating a spiritual atmosphere. He designed the basilica’s stained-glass windows and interior layout to maximize the play of light throughout the day.

What are the windows like?

The windows are arranged in a way that allows the sun’s rays to illuminate the interior in a symphony of colours, creating a mesmerizing and serene environment for worshippers and visitors alike.

Another defining aspect of the Sagrada Familia’s architectural style is its symbolism. Gaudí was deeply religious, and he incorporated numerous religious themes and symbols into the design of the basilica. The three main façades are the Nativity Façade, the Passion Façade, and the Glory Façade. Each depicts different stages of Jesus’s life, while the 18 towers represent key figures from the Bible.

The intricate sculptures and reliefs adorning the basilica are also rich in symbolism, showcasing Gaudí’s devotion to his faith and his desire to create a space that would inspire spiritual reflection and contemplation.

What can I expect to see inside the Sagrada Familia

Inside the Sagrada Familia

The interior of the Sagrada Familia is striking, with forest-like columns, intricate stained-glass windows, and an awe-inspiring ceiling. The basilica’s design allows for an abundance of natural light, creating a serene and spiritual atmosphere.

You can also explore the museum within the basilica, which houses original drawings, models, and photographs related to the construction of the Sagrada Familia.

What is the current state of the Sagrada Familia?

Sagrada familia with scaffolding

The construction of the Sagrada Familia has been a long and challenging process, with more than its fair share of setbacks and controversies. After more than a hundred years of construction work, the Sagrada Familia is still unfinished! It’s definitely getting there though. The current target for the completion of the Sagrada Familia is 2026. This will mark the 100th anniversary of Gaudí’s death. However, many people think that this deadline is ambitious, and it will still be years before the basilica is finally finished.

How can you visit the Sagrada Familia?

Passenger on tourist bus in front of the Sagrada Familia

Let’s be frank, you can’t come to Barcelona and not visit the Sagrada Familia. We definitely recommended you book your tickets online in advance to avoid long queues and ensure entry.

To make your visit even more convenient, consider using our bus service, which offers a direct route to the Sagrada Familia. This way, you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the sights of Barcelona as you make your way to this iconic landmark.

Most Interesting Facts About the Sagrada Família

  1. Gaudí is buried in the Sagrada Familia’s crypt, where he spent the last years of his life overseeing construction.
  2. The Sagrada Familia has been under construction for longer than the Great Pyramids of Giza.
  3. The basilica’s construction is entirely funded by private donations and ticket sales from visitors.
  4. The Sagrada Familia was consecrated as a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.
  5. The basilica’s design incorporates a variety of natural elements, such as tree-like columns and geometric shapes inspired by honeycombs and crystals.
  6. If the Sagrada Familia is completed in 2026, it will finally be finished a century after Gaudí died.
  7. During the Spanish Civil War in 1936, the basilica was set on fire, resulting in the destruction of Gaudí’s original plans and models.

Now you're ready to explore the Sagrada Familia!

In conclusion, the Sagrada Familia is an architectural wonder that is a must-see for anyone visiting Barcelona. Its captivating design, rich history, and fascinating facts make it an unforgettable landmark. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore this incredible basilica during your trip to Barcelona.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The Sagrada Familia is expected to be completed in 2026, which marks the centenary of Antoni Gaudí’s death. However, some decorative elements could take up to six additional years to complete.

The Sagrada Familia is culturally significant to Barcelona as it represents the architectural genius of Antoni Gaudí and serves as a symbol of the city’s rich history and artistic heritage. The basilica is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, further highlighting its importance.

The best times to visit the Sagrada Familia are early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid large crowds. There is no specific dress code to visit the Sagrada Familia, but as it is a religious site, visitors are advised to dress modestly and respectfully.

There is a specific dress code for visiting the Sagrada Familia, as it is an active religious site. Visitors are expected to dress modestly and respectfully. The Archdiocese of Barcelona advises against wearing see-through clothing, short or tight trousers, bathing suits, and party suits. It is recommended that trousers and skirts should be below mid-thigh, and shirts should cover the shoulders. If you are wearing a sleeveless top, you can bring a shawl or jacket and put it on when you enter the Sagrada Familia.

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