La Sagrada Familia: The Sacred Pearl of Barcelona

La Sagrada Família, the sacred church, is the most popular attraction of Barcelona. Nearly 3,000,000 visitors travel every year to the city to see this dignified temple. What makes this building so special is its unique style where art, religion, and beauty meet and produce a breathtaking view visible from many points of the city.

La Sagrada Família has a long construction history and is still a work in progress. The first stone was laid on March 19, 1882, around 141 years ago. The temple is planned to be finished in 2026, a few more years left to see the final opening. The chief architect of this ambitious project is no one else than Antoni Gaudi who as an artist obsessed with “Truth”, “Structure” and “Beauty”.

The construction of La Sagrada Família started before Gaudi. In the beginning, the church was planned to be as Neo gothic under the supervision of Francisco de Paula del Villar. However, Villar resigned in 1882 and Gaudi took over the project in 1884. As the new chief architect, he redesigned the structure in the Catalan Modernist style. Gaudi devoted his last 40 years to La Sagrada Família and lived in his atelier under the temple for 20 years.

Gaudi died when only the main crypt and one of the three planned facades were finished (nativity). He left many sketches and plaster models of the church, which helped the new generations take over his project. Thanks to the technology, it is now possible to derive 3D mathematical models and abstract shapes by using computers. Gaudi lived before the advanced technology era, and he relied only on his imagination while designing the abstract shapes and forms. He was very much inspired by nature when formulating those shapes.  

The Church

La Sagrada Familia is planned to be in the maximum height as 172.5 meters, it is slightly less high than Mountain Montjuic, the highest hill that could be seen from the horizon of Barcelona. Gaudi had a specific reason while planning the temple’s height this way, he believes that humankind should not attempt to surpass God’s work. Click here for Gaudi’s orginal drawing of La Sagrada Template.

What makes La Sagrada Familia impressive is the story behind this fancy church. The towers are dedicated to holy saints who had an important role in history and the facades depict important scenes from the rising of Christianity and Jesus.

La Sagrada Familia

Towers: When completed there are going to be 17 towers in La Sagrada Familia. The highest of it will be constructed to the center and it will be dedicated to Christ. For towers will surround the main tower and it is going to be dedicated to one of the four evangenlists. The towers on the facades (12 in total) are dedicated apostles of Jesus which are crowned with elegant pinnacles as a representation of bishop’s miter.

La Sagrada Familia has three facades which are called Nativity, Passion and Glory, each of them is dedicated to bible, lethargy, and nature. Currently, the Nativity facade is complete, and Passion is almost complete and the Glory face is planned to be constructed. When it is complete, the Glory facade will be the main entrance of the basilica.

Facades of La Sagrada Familia

Nativity facade: Nativity faces on the east side of the campus and designed in the style of modernism. There are depictions about the birth of Jesus as the way it is described in the bible. They are on three portals named as Faith, Hope, and Charity.

La Sagrada Familia: Nativity Facade

Charity is the port on the center and there is a cypress tree representing the symbol of eternity. Faith is the portal on the left and there are depictions of the life of Christ. Hope is the portal on the right where there are depictions of Jesus when he was a child and hope of Israel.

Passion Facade: On Passion, there are depictions of death, burial, and ascension of Jesus. The facade is a combination of modern style with Gothic architecture. On this facade, there is also a magic square where all the numbers add up to 33 which is a holy number for the Christian community. Passion facade was constructed after Gaudi’s death, however, he already had detailed models of the design of Nativity facade.

La Sagrada Familia: Passion Facade

Interior of La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia has a stunning interior design which gives a glorious experience to the visitors. The design, the natural forms and reflection of lights in different colors is stunning. I think it adds another dimension to the view. This is unquestionably the best and the most colorful basilica that I have ever visited so far.

La Sagrada Familia has a gothic style apse which is surrounded by seven chapels. The lights enter through stained glass windows which are designed by elliptical circular hyperboloids. What is amazing is that the colors of the lights change through days and even months of the year.

Interior of La Sagrada Familia

The natural style of the walls and ceilings give the basilica a unique interior view. The interior resembles a forest, and it was designed in this way to make the visitors feel as if they were in heaven. Gaudi managed to provide this forest-like expressionism through random shape arboreal style columns. The many color lights dispersed around the walls and ceilings enriches this natural style.

The bronze door is another part that captured my attention in the interior. There will be the main entrance of the basilica when finished and the other side will face the Glory facade. What I found interesting with the door is that it is engraved as the speeches of texts from the bible in various languages and this way it is welcoming all the visitors from different nationalities.

Practical Information

La Sagrada Familia is a “must” attraction to see for anyone who is interested in traveling to Barcelona. The official address is Carrer de Mallorca, 401, 08013. Opening hours depends on the season (November to February: Monday-Saturday 9:00 AM to 6:00 AM, Sunday 10:30 AM to 6:00 PM. March and October: Monday-Saturday 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Sunday 10:30 AM to 7:00 PM. April through September: Monday- Saturday 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM, Sunday 10:30 AM to 8:00 PM). The entry price also depends on the tour and the ticket with an audio guide is € 22,00. Here is the official website of the cathedral. Casa Mila is another work of Gaudi. Click to learn more about it.


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  4. […] Antoni Gaudí is one of the leading architects in modernism. He added his signature all over to Barcelona. The architect was born in Reus in 1952 and got his degree as an architect in 1978. There was still some time until he designed huge masterpieces like Casa Mila and La Sagrada Familia. […]

  5. […] 1899, Pere Campins, who was the bishop of Mallorca, asked Antoni Gaudi (Master architect of La Sagrada Familia) to recreate the cathedral’s altar. It was one of his latest works before he died from a tram […]

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