La Sagrada Familia

Overview & History
La Sagrada Familia is an enormous basilica in Barcelona and was the inspiration of a bookseller named José Bocabella. Antoni Gaudí, who is famously known to have designed the building was not appointed as architect director until 2 years after construction began in 1884. When Gaudí passed away in 1926 the basilica was roughly 20% complete. Construction was interrupted and set back during the Spanish civil war in 1936, as Catalan anarchists destroyed Gaudí’s models. This led to many years trying to reconstruct the models. Now, chief architect Jordi Faulí announced in 2015 that the church was 70 percent complete and was set to be finished in 2026. 
The church will have three grand Façades: the Nativity Façade, which is located in the west, the Passion Façade located in the West, and finally the third and last-named the Glory Façade in the South which is yet to be complete.

La Sagrada Familia Picture Courtesy of Arup e1566467281521 La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia | Picture courtesy of Arup

Nativity Façade
Constructed between 1894 & 1930, this piece was the first of the three to be completed. The Nativity Façade is devoted to the birth of Jesus and is decorated with scenes from throughout his life.

The Nativity Façade  e1566467958942 La Sagrada Familia
The Nativity Façade | Picture courtesy of Eugene Zhukovsky

Passion Façade
In comparison to the Nativity façade, the Passion Façade is plain and simple, with its carved straight lines to resemble bones of a skeleton. It is a dedication to the suffering that Jesus endured during his crucifixion. 

Passion Façade Picture courtesy of Askideas e1566468017815 La Sagrada Familia
The Passion Façade | Picture courtesy of Askideas

While you are gazing at the wonders of the Passion Façade you may be puzzled by the 4×4 square of numbers, the term for this type of square is a “Magic Square”. A “Magic Square” is a range of numbers on a square grid, planned so that all numbers across or diagonal add to the same number. One conspiracy to why the sum adds to 33 is that was the age at which Christ was crucified. However, all theories remain theories as Gaudí took the meaning of the “Magic Square” to his death.

Magic Square Picture courtesy of Ferran Pestaña e1566469297867 La Sagrada Familia
"Magic Square" | Picture courtesy of Ferran Pestaña

Glory Façade
This is the largest and most striking Façade and construction began much later than the others in 2002 and is yet to be complete. This Façade is dedicated to the Glory of Jesus, representing the journey to God; death, the final judgment, and glory.

5 fun facts

  • The entire project was funded by donations, this is the reason it was built in stages so that people would be encouraged to donate once they saw the progress.
  • The building has been under construction for over a century, starting in 1882 the projected completion stage is 2026.
  • Even though there are only 8 towers right now once complete the building will house 18 towers and all are important. 12 of them signify the apostles, four represent the evangelists and one will be chosen to signify the Virgin Mary. The last and tallest tower will represent Jesus Christ.
  • Catalonian designer Gaudí who was unfortunately killed by a tram is buried in the underground section of the building.
  • Gaudi believed that individuals creations should never be greater than gods, this is the reason the construction was intended to be a foot smaller than the tallest natural point in Barcelona.

Ticket information
Can I buy tickets in person once I’m there? Yes, you can but the Sagrada Familia is Barcelona’s number 1 tourist attraction and ticket lines can be as long as 2 hours. To avoid these queues, it would be advised that you pre-book your entrance especially during peak seasons (April-September). 

Ticket tip: FREE express passes are included in the Barcelona city pass!

Your visit means a lot
La Sagrada Familia costs around 25 million euros each year to fund. This is supported by the three million visitors annually who help fund the project. So, with your visit, you can say that you’ve helped finish Gaudí’s vision.

The surrounding area 
Visiting Gaudí’s most famous work is not the only thing to do in the area. If you are in the neighborhood take a break from all that sightseeing and grab a bite. You can take a walk down Gaudí Avenue which starts just outside the church; this avenue is packed from head to toe with restaurants and cafes. Once you reach the end of the avenue you can visit Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site, this location is home to nearly 9 international institutions and the buildings are very visually satisfying. 

Gaudí Avenue Picture courtesy of e1566468467986 La Sagrada Familia
Gaudí Avenue – Picture courtesy of Robert Rutkowski


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