The construction of Barcelona’s iconic, as well as controversial church is expected to be completed in 2026, a century after the death of its architect Antoni Gaudí.
At 172.5 metres height, the Sagrada Família is one of the tallest religious buildings in the world but remains a few metres below the height of Montjuïc, the highest point in the municipality of Barcelona. Gaudí’s plan includes 18 towers: 12 shorter ones on the facades – bell towers of 100 metres high, representing the Apostles, and 6 taller ones in the centre in a pyramidal layout reflecting the hierarchy of their symbolism. Of these, the tallest will be the one above the central crossing, representing Jesus Christ, reaching 172.5 metres in height, surrounded by 4 slimmer, 135-metre-high towers representing the four Evangelists and their Gospels A further tower will cover the apse and will represent the Virgin Mary.
The foundation stone of the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família was laid in 1882. Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí took charge of the project a year later and he scrapped the original neo-Gothic design plans and exchanged them for a grander vision, unlike any the world had ever seen.
When complete, the church will be composed of three major facades, two of which – the Passion and the Nativity, have already been completed, while construction of the Glory facade remains ongoing. Much of the ornate Nativity facade was completed by Gaudí himself, who feared that beginning with the austere Passion facade would temper the public’s enthusiasm. The Passion facade’s gaunt, tortured figures are sculpted by Catalan artist Josep Maria Subirachs and are meant to inspire fear. The Glory facade, expected to be the largest and most impressive of the three, began construction in 2002.
The church’s interior is defined by columns that stretch like tree branches toward the ceiling. Gaudí’s plans also called for 18 spires, eight of which are complete, as well as numerous towers, chapels, portals, and other interior features. When built, the tallest spire, which symbolizes Jesus Christ, will secure Sagrada Família’s place as the world’s largest church building.
Some projections have completion date as 2026, the centennial anniversary of Gaudí’s death, while others estimate construction could continue into the 2040s. Though still incomplete, the church sees an estimated 2.8 million visitors each year.
Plan Your Visit
In the early morning or late evening the sun shines through the stained glass windows on the walls filling the church with an abundance of color. You’re also likely to have less of a wait and crowd to navigate through around these times. Taking into account that an average of 2.8 million people visit Sagrada Família each year, it is best to have your ticket bought in advance.
Cover photo via Basílica de la Sagrada Família page.