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  • Sagrada Familia

    Five amazing facts you need to know

    interior sagrada familia

La Sagrada Familia is a breathtaking church

The Sagrada Família is a one-of-a-kind temple for its origins, foundation, and purpose. Fruit of genius architect Antoni Gaudí, the project was promoted by the people for the people. Five generations now have watched the Temple progress in Barcelona. Today, more than 135 years after the laying of the cornerstone, construction continues on the Basilica.

In this post, we have wanted to comment on five points that seem important to us to understand better what this magnificent work of architecture means.

Gaudi neither started the Sagrada Familia nor finished it.

The original design for the project for the Sagrada Família by diocesan architect Francisco de Paula del Villar followed the general guidelines of the time, with neo-Gothic elements: ogival windows, buttresses, flying buttresses, and a pointed bell tower. Technical differences about the cost of materials led this architect to be replaced with another who was starting to stand out in the field, Antoni Gaudí. He took the project in a different direction, transforming it into an ambitious proposal for the future church.
The apse crypt was completed before Villar’s resignation on 18 March 1883, when Antoni Gaudí assumed responsibility for its design, which he changed radically.
Gaudi began work on the church in 1883 but was not appointed Architect Director until 1884.
Gaudí took over the Sagrada Família project when he was just 31 years old, and he spent the last 12 years of his life wholly devoted to his tremendous vocation: serving God through architecture.
Catalan anarchists destroyed parts of the unfinished basilica and Gaudí’s models and workshop during the war.
The present design is based on reconstructed versions of the plans burned in a fire and modern adaptations. Since 1940, the architects Francesc Quintana, Isidre Puig Boada, Lluís Bonet i Gari and Francesc Cardoner have carried on the work. Carles Buïgas designed the illumination. The current director and son of Lluís Bonet, Jordi Bonet i Armengol, has been introducing computers into the design and construction process since the 1980s. Mark Burry of New Zealand serves as Executive Architect and Researcher.
Sculptures by J. Busquets, Etsuro Sotoo and the controversial Josep Maria Subirachs decorate the fantastical façades. Barcelona-born Jordi Fauli took over as chief architect in 2012

The Sagrada Familia is the only great Temple in the world that is still under construction.

Cathedrals have always taken a long time to build, in some cases a very long time: the Cologne Cathedral (Germany) took 632 to finish; the Milan Cathedral, 577 years; and Westminster Abbey, in London, was built in just 500 years. Other non-religious buildings also took a long time to build, like the Alhambra in Granada, which is calculated to have taken 600 years, and the megalithic monument at Stonehenge (England), which is believed to have taken 1,600 years.

In any case, the era of cathedrals began in the 12th century in a sort of building frenzy that fuelled the growth of medieval cities for three centuries. The phenomenon, however, lasted even longer, and many towns joined in after the initial wave. There was a succession of styles, from Romanesque to neo-Gothic, and we can say that, at its latest, the era of cathedrals lasted until the 19th century. However, there are some isolated cities where it didn’t end until the 20th century, like Barcelona. And that is why the Sagrada Família, which broke ground in the late 19th century, at the tail end of this period, and continued throughout the 20th century, is undoubtedly an exceptional case.

Each cathedral has its history and reasons for building so long, generally lacking funds or donations. In the case of our Temple, however, construction has been ongoing, although the pace of the work has changed. Works only stopped completely from 1936-1939, during the Spanish Civil War, and now, for the second time in over a century, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gaudí is Buried There

La Sagrada Familia is home to the tomb of Antoni Gaudí, who was unfortunately killed a few days after being hit by a tram.

He is buried in the Crypt of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia. This is an underground level located beneath the apse. It is covered by a large vault in which, at the point where the largest arches meet, there is an outstanding sculpted polychrome image of the Annunciation to Mary.

It also has a central altar with an altarpiece by the sculptor Josep Llimona, and four chapels dedicated to the Virgin of El Carmen (the site of Gaudí’s tomb), Christ, the Virgin of Montserrat, and Christ on the cross (the location of the grave of Josep María Bocabella, who was responsible for the idea of building La Sagrada Familia). A Roman mosaic borders the floor of the crypt with images of wheat and vines.

Expiatory temple

From the beginning, the Sagrada Familia is an expiatory temple which means that voluntary donations paid the cost of the work.
Today, thanks to the large influx of visitors from all nationalities and beliefs, the construction goes high speed.
Many people still see it as a Christian church, but it is not uncommon to find opinions of those who believe that the building could become a universal symbol of faith.
The Junta Constructora del Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família is a private, non-profit, autonomous pious foundation. Its purpose is to build, preserve and restore the Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada Família, founded by Josep Maria Bocabella and designed by Antoni Gaudí, on land delimited by Mallorca, Marina, Provença, and Sardenya streets.
The Sagrada Família, as an expiatory temple, has continuously been funded through the donations and contributions of thousands of anonymous individuals over the years.
If you are interested in giving a boost, click here:

The inside is full of spirituality.

Before 2010, the Sagrada Família’s exuberant exterior was what attracted visitors. The architecture-cum-sculpture spoke to all who saw it and word of mouth spread the message that it was made of living stones, full of content.
In 2010, however, the Temple was consecrated as a Basilica. From that time on, the Temple opened up its interior space to worshippers, pilgrims, and visitors, who found a space that few left without feeling moved.
The forest of inclined trunks and branches holding up the vaults with openings that let the light stream in, as if through the branches of the trees in a forest, its great height, proportions, and magnificent play of light and colors from the stained-glass windows make it more than just a unique building: they make it a space full of spirituality that truly enthralls and captivates anyone who visits.

Do you want to enjoy the best visit to the Sagrada Familia?

If your answer is yes, read on. We have the perfect solution for a unique visit.

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This post is also available in: Spanish

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