Despite being an unfinished structure there are over 3 million visitors coming in every year to tick off Sagrada Familia from their ultimate travel bucket list. So what is Sagrada Familia and why is it grabbing the attention of so many people? Sagrada Família is a Basilica in Barcelona Spain, a mind-blowing masterpiece by architect Antoni Gaudi. The stunning Sagrada Familia architecture and the enormity of the structure makes it the undisputed jewel of Barcelona. This unfinished masterpiece has been transforming the city’s skyline for the last 135 years. It is the world’s longest running architectural project and is set for completion in a couple of years. Once here, the unique combination of science, math and engineering will change your perspective of what beauty really means. This intricately designed landmark is something you just can’t afford to miss. 

Let’s Step Back In History To Know How It All Started

when was sagrada familia built
Sagrada Família was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 2005.

Everything big has small beginnings, the story of the Sagrada Família is no different. Josep Maria Bocabella, a bookseller, wanted to build a beautiful church after his return from the Vatican City in 1872. Originally architect Francisco de Paula del Villar was appointed by the local religious organization to start construction with money collected from donations. After the resignation of Villar in 1883, Antoni Gaudi began to work on the project and went on to become the project director a year later. The structure was built using the unique Art Nouveau and Spanish Gothic style, drawing inspiration from nature. Architect Gaudi knew that this masterpiece wouldn’t be finished during his lifetime, so he made detailed sketches for the basilica’s central nave, the façade of Glory and the sacristy.

Sadly in the year 1926 while the construction was only 15 to 25% complete, Antoni Gaudi passed away in a freak accident involving a tram. From then it took five generations of architects and builders to bring his vision to reality. Hats off to the tireless work of people over the years for remaining as true to the original designs as possible. Finally when it’s complete, the basilica will be the tallest church structure in Europe that will change the skyline of Barcelona forever. In 2005 Sagrada Familia was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and in 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated it as a place of worship. The construction is said to be completed in 2026, the 100th death anniversary of Antoni Gaudi. 

Exterior And Interior Aspects Of The Sagrada Família

sagrada familia interior and exterior is very beautiful.
Barcelona, Catalonia: Exterior of the famous cathedral La Sagrada Familia designed by architect Antoni Gaudi. It has been under construction since 1882.

Architect Antoni Gaudí, the mastermind behind this incredible design wanted a place where everyone in the city could gather for prayers. So he made this 4,500 square meters large Basilica (as big as a football field) which could hold nearly 14,000 worshippers at a time. Gaudi’s designs had a combination of Gothic, Catalan Modernism, and Art Nouveau styles. The layout was that of a traditional Latin cross with massive dimensions which features five naves, an apse, a crossing and an exterior cloister style ambulatory.

The exterior has three different facades – the Nativity (tells the story of the birth of Christ), the Passion façade (focuses on the crucifixion of Christ) and the Glory façade (represents the road to God and Glory). 

Gaudi had the most control over the Nativity Facade which was the first facade to be completed but the Passion Facade with lots of angles has a completely different look and feel in comparison to the Nativity Façade. The Glory façade is still in the final stages of construction. The sculptures on the façade were carved from bare stones where Gaudí not only used human models but also animals for molding sculptures. 

Once you have gotten over with the impressive spectacle of the exterior, get ready to take in the spectacles of the interiors. The interior of the Basilica is made to resemble a huge forest. There are columns representing tree trunks branching out from the capitals into the vaults. To illuminate the vaults, he put transparent glass on top for the natural light to hit the stained glass windows to bring in colorful light. The Sagrada Familia interior is so real that you get a feel of walking into a surreal dream forest. Everything inside was built using nature as an inspiration. Sadly Antoni Gaudí never lived to see his most famous architectural masterpiece.

10 Interesting La Sagrada Familia Facts

some la sagrada familia facts
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  1. Though not complete, the Sagrada Família is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are six other UNESCO listed world heritage sites in Barcelona. 
  2. Unlike other churches, the Sagrada Familia church portrays and explains messages through its extraordinary facades that are on the outside.
  3. Construction of Sagrada Família is funded entirely with entrance fees and donations. There is no kind of financial help coming in from the church or the government.
  4. Each of the total 18 Sagrada Família’s towers is symbolic. Twelve of the towers are dedicated to the Twelve Apostles and the remaining six towers are dedicated to the 4 Evangelists, the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ.
  5. After Gaudí died in a freak accident on June 10, 1926, he was buried in the El Carmen Virgin chapel which is one of the four chapels within the Sagrada Familia crypt.
  6. The Passion façade has a mysterious square with mixed numbers which adds up to number 33. No one knows what it means but as per experts the square is tied to the age of Christ’s death.
  7. Basilica workers’ faces can be found sculpted in stone of the Portal of Mercy façade as a tribute to them.
  8. With over 3 million visitors every year, Sagrada Família is the most visited place in Spain.
  9. After its completion, the Basilica will be the tallest (170 meters tall) religious building in Europe. 
  10. Amidst the Spanish Civil War In 1936, a group of anarchists set the Basilica on fire. Part of Gaudí’s plaster models, plans, and photographs was burnt in the fire.

Sagrada Família Tickets

sagrada familia tickets is available online
construction of sagrada familia is set to complete in 2026.

Being the most famous landmark in Barcelona, thousands of visitors come in daily to see this man-made wonder. Hence book your Sagrada Familia tickets in advance online on the official site to avoid last minute disappointments. There is a refund if tickets are canceled 48 hours before the visit. Children under 11 years accompanied by an adult can visit the basilica free of charges. Students below 30 years can pay €2 less per ticket after providing proof of age. Do keep in mind that all tickets have a timeslot and if you miss your timeslot, you will need to purchase a new ticket. There are four types of ticket to choose from for your Sagrada Familia visit, details as below:

Basic Ticket 20€ – only available for the last two hours of each day.

Audio Guide Ticket 26€ – 16 languages audio guide tour lasts for 45 minutes and available all day.

Guided Tour Ticket 30€ – 5 languages guided tours last around 50 minutes.

Audio Guides and Towers Ticket 40€ – You can choose which tower access you want.

When Is The Best Time To Visit

Sagrada Família can be enjoyed all year, however the opening times change with the seasons. But the best time to see it in its full glory is in the late afternoon or two hours before sunset. By doing so one can enjoy the beauty of the building in the light of day and also enjoy the magical glowing effect of the sunset across the structure. The good news is, the Basilica is open during Christmas time too. 

November through February – 9:00 am to 6:00 pm

March and October – 9:00 am to 7:00 pm

April to September – 9:00 am to 8:00 pm

25 and 26 December – 9:00 am to 2:00 pm

1st and 6th January – 9:00 am to 2:00 pm

All Sundays from 10.30 am to 6:00 pm

How Do You Get To La Sagrada Família

Sagrada Família's towers
Sagrada Familia basilica in Barcelona.

As Sagrada Família is located in the north east of the city center, it’s relatively easy to move around. There are numerous options to get here. The easiest, efficient and the most affordable one is Barcelona’s metro system. It has its own dedicated station ‘Sagrada Familia’ if you take the L2 and L5 lines. 

With the many buses stopping at short distances, catching a buses 19, 33, 34, 43, 44, 50, 51, B20 or B24 and get off at the Sagrada Família stop is very easy. This is a great way to see the city as some bus routes also pass by other popular sites like Sant Pau Recinte de la Moderniste and Park Guell.

The next option is to take taxis that are easily available from anywhere in Barcelona. Though a little on the expensive side, these taxis will save a lot of your time and energy. Make sure to take only the licensed cab which are yellow and black in color.

Next hop on to the Barcelona Bus Turístic which is a Hop on Hop off bus that has stops at most of the attractions in Barcelona including a stop right in front of the La Sagrada Familia. Tickets for this bus can be purchased directly from the ticket office or as part of your sightseeing pass.

Finally if you have time in hand and want to explore at your own pace, just take a walk. A half an hour walk (1.5 mile) from Plaça de Catalunya will get you right in front of Sagrada Família. This is the best way to explore the city and its culture to the fullest.

What Not To Miss Inside Sagrada Familia

Arguably the most iconic stop one can make while in Barcelona is at the Sagrada Família. Not just the outside of this marvel but the inside too has a lot to see and do. Here’s an overview of what to expect inside Sagrada Família to make the most of your visit.

High Columns

High columns of la sagrada familia
Massive columns that go all the the up to the ceiling of la sagrada familia.

The massive four columns within the Basilica are dedicated to the evangelists John, Matthew, Mark and Luke. They are built to symbolize the saints rising into heaven and the angels coming down to meet them. Drawing inspiration from nature, the interior feels more like a massive jungle than a site of religious worship.

Stained Glass Windows

la sagrada familia colored glasses
Decorative glass work of Temple Basilica la sagrada familia at barcelona spain. Image Source: istock

The beautiful stained glass windows adorning the walls of Sagrada Família are sure to leave one awe struck. The colors on each glass with hues of blue, red, orange, green and yellow symbolize the birth of Christ, resurrection, water and light. In addition, the colors on each glass have been chosen in such a way that it illuminates the interiors when the sun shines. 

Neo-Gothic Apse

outstanding sagrada familia architecture
The beautiful apse is a center piece of the grand Basilica.

The neo-gothic apse was built above the crypt between 1890-93. It was designed in such a way that natural light from the outdoors could spill into it. The semi-circular structure with a dome is surrounded by the seven chapels of the apse dedicated to the seven Sorrows and Joys of Saint Joseph. The simple crucifix as an ornament right in the middle of the apse is simply breathtaking.

The Crypt

The Crypt is where Antoni Gaudi is buried.
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It is the only part of the Basilica that was completed while Gaudi was still alive. Today the crypt is a chapel where the masses are conducted and also the final resting place of Antoni Gaudi. The floor of the crypt is decorated with a beautiful Roman mosaic with images of wheat and vines on it. Sagrada Família was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005.


museum of sagrada familia in spain has a collection of artifacts.
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Next to the crypt is the museum which is a must visit if you want to know Gaudí’s creative process and his techniques. This is where Gaudí worked during the last few years before he died. Details of how to build the Basilica in the form of plans, drafts, models, charts, and photos can be seen here. Visitors also get the privilege to watch architects working towards finishing the unfinished Gaudi’s cathedral.

Suggested Reads: 11 Famous Buildings Around the World You Have To See

Can you believe, this epic creation is creating such a big buzz even before it’s completed! We wonder what the end results are going to be like. Whether you are religious or not, a visit to the most visited monuments in Spain is definitely worth it. We hope this complete guide to Sagrada Família will help make your planning much easier. Do share your views with us in the comments below. 

FAQ’s On Sagrada Família

How much time do you need at Sagrada Família?

Everything inside Sagrada Família takes about two hours to see. However once you are inside, you can stay however long you want. So take your time and see every corner of this wonder, for you will never see anything like this ever.

Can you wear shorts in Sagrada Família?

Anything way above the knee is not allowed for both male and female visitors in La Sagrada Família. As it is an active Catholic church, every visitor must dress appropriately keeping the religious sentiments in mind. It is advised not to wear see-through clothing and dresses that reveal too much skin. 

Can you take photos in Sagrada Família?

If you’re a tourist with a regular camera, no one can stop you from taking pictures of Sagrada Familia Barcelona. It is one of the most Instagrammed monument in Barcelona, so why would one not want to take a picture. Do note that professional photo shoots and its equipment’s are not allowed inside.

Why is Sagrada Familia taking too long to complete?

There are many factors that led to the delay in the construction of the Basilica. Firstly, the untimely death of Antoni Gaudí, the mastermind behind the structure, it was difficult to move forward without his presence. Secondly, the entire construction is funded from private donations, tourism and sponsorships. Thirdly, the pandemic was also responsible for the delay. However the good news is that this highly ambitious project will be completed in 2026, in time for the 100th death anniversary of Antoni Gaudi. 

What is the least crowded day to visit Sagrada Familia?

Monday mornings between 9:00 to 11:00 am is the best time to visit, as during this time the crowd is relatively less. Avoid reaching between 11:00 to 1:00pm as this is the time you need to wait the longest to get inside. However after lunch time the queues shorten and again peaks up during sunset time.

What are the rules of entry to the Sagrada Familia?

– Only tickets issued from the premises and from authorized distributors will be accepted.
– Once a person leaves the premises, he will not be allowed to re-enter.
– There is no restriction on the time that one can spend inside but visitors will be asked to leave 15 minutes before closing time.
– No pets are allowed inside the Basilica.
– Visitors are expected to dress appropriately and behave politely inside the premises.

Do you need a tour guide for Sagrada Familia?

The Basilica of the Sagrada Família can be visited with or without a guided tour. However a guided tour is the best way to explore this master-piece as several fascinating facts and information about Sagrada Família will be missed if you go on your own. In addition, a guided Sagrada Familia tour will also help you skip the line at the entrance with the use of the guide’s license. 


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