Sagrada Familia

Basilica of the Sagrada Familia


Access: Rue de Mallorca, 401. M° Sagrada Familia

Opening hours: April to September: every day from 9 am to 8 pm, until 6 pm the rest of the year.

Admission: 15 €, 19,50 € with audio guide. Attention! Reservation is preferable.


A major and unfinished work by the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, who devoted part of his life to it, the Sagrada Família is the emblematic monument of Catalan modernism and the city of Barcelona.

Exceeding both the Alhambra of Granada and the Prado Museum in Madrid, with more than three million annual visitors, the Sagrada Família is the most visited monument in Spain.

The parts built during Gaudi’s lifetime, the crypt and the façade of the Nativity, are declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Expiatory Temple, in Catalan its full name is “Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família”, the works are financed by donations and alms without any public funding. This has meant that some work has not always been done at crucial times. However, since the 90s, with the increasing influx of visitors, the economic situation and the reputation of the Sagrada Familia have increased.

History of a masterful project

The history of this beautiful religious building began on December 31, 1881, when a man named Josep Maria Bocabella bought a block of houses in the name of the “Association of the Devotees of St. Joseph”.

The money collected by the charity was to be used to build a church and schools. The architect Francisco del Villar y Lozano was responsible for the design of a neo-Gothic church. The first stone was laid on Saint Joseph’s Day 1882 by Bishop José Maria de Urquinaona.

Bocabella supporting the project of a replica of the sanctuary of Loreto to which Francisco del Villar did not adhere, disagreements multiplied. Joan Martorell i Montells, architect assessor, then proposed his apprentice, Antoni Gaudi, carrier of a more ambitious project.

The arrival of Gaudi

In contrast to Villar, at only 31 years of age, Gaudi proposes a very personal project: a temple of naturalist-modernist architecture composed of five naves, an apse, a crossroads and an ambulatory.

Three facades and eighteen towers, twelve to symbolize the apostles and four for the evangelists, one surmounted by the morning star for the Virgin and one in the center to symbolize Jesus Christ, complete this project. The one dedicated to Jesus culminating at 172.50 meters in height will be the highest..

Reflecting the history and mysteries of the Christian faith, the facades represent the three stages of Jesus’ life: the Nativity, the Passion and the Glory. As for the cross, it refers to the heavenly Jerusalem, symbol of peace.

Gaudi dedicated the rest of his life to this temple 120 metres long and 45 metres wide. Its total surface of 4 500 square meters has a capacity of 14 000 people.

While the crypt was inaugurated in 1885 and work on the Nativity façade began in 1891, Gaudi understood that his life would not be enough to complete this great work, which was in danger of being altered by lack of public interest and funding.

Antoni Gaudi was overthrown by a tramway and died on 10 June 1926. After having devoted a quarter of a century of his life to its construction, he will see completed only the Nativity façade, the Saint-Barnabé tower and an external part of the apse wall. Gaudi is buried in the crypt of the chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Work continues

It took 10 years, from 1926 to 1936, for Domènec Sugrañes, Gaudi’s assistant, to complete the work on the three towers that remained to be built, thus completing the construction of the entire Nativity façade.

Catalan anti-clerics set fire to Gaudi’s workshop in 1936 during the Civil War, destroying all plans and models, sketches and guiding information left by Gaudi.

Several architects : Francis Quintana, Isidre Puig i Boda and Lluis Bonet i Gari, took over the work in 1944 after having decided how to proceed with the work while taking Gaudi’s aspirations into account.

Then, once the construction of the façade of the Passion was voted by the association of the devotees of Saint Joseph in 1953, the works began and in 1976, the towers completed and inaugurated for the fiftieth anniversary of Gaudi’s death. The crypt was completed in 1958 and the museum opened in 1961.

In 1990, the installation of the first statues of the Passion façade by Josep Maria Subirach was the subject of controversy because of the aridity and contemporaneity of their style, which was very different from the one Gaudi used for the Nativity façade. Finally, the central nave completed in 2000, the roof of the temple was completed in 2008.

The façade of the Nativity

Known as the Levant, it is the only one to have been finished during Gaudi’s lifetime. It is from this facade overlooking Marina Street that the work continued. It has three portals representing from left to right Hope, Charity and Faith.

In the centre on the main door stands a cypress tree symbolising the Tree of Life. It is surmounted by a T-shaped cross, appearing tau for the symbol of God the Father. The diagonals in the shape of X which cover it represent the chi, symbol of Christ.

Gate of Hope. The sculptures visible on the central part evoke the wedding of Mary and Joseph in a cave as well as various symbols.

Gate of Charity. The columns that frame it represent the mother of God and Joseph.

Gate of Faith. It shows the Visitation, Jesus and the doctors of the Temple.

The Sagrada Familia Museum

Opened in 1961, the museum is located under the crossing of the transept, in the underground of the temple on the site of the former workshops of the building. It was enlarged after the Sagrada Familia schools were moved in 2002.

The museum has a collection of models and plans, old and original drawings, photographs of the evolution of the works as well as tools for the preparatory studies carried out by Gaudi and models of the sculptures on the façade of the Passions made by Josep Maria Subirachs.


Visualisation of the Finished Basilica


The Mystery of Creation


Inside

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