Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain

La Sagrada Familia, the breathtaking basilica in the heart of Barcelona, is one of the most important landmarks of the city and of all Spain, despite its pending completion.

The impressive Sagrada Familia is located in the beautiful port city of Barcelona in the north of Spain in the Eixample district. The construction of the magnificent Roman Catholic basilica was started in 1882 by the famous architect Antonio Gaudí and is still not completed. According to the latest forecasts, the Sagrada Familia will be completed in 2026.


Nevertheless, it is an unmissable landmark and clearly belongs to our top 10 sights of Barcelona and Spain. It has also found a place on our lists of the 10 most beautiful churches in Spain and Europe.

In 2005, the Nativity façade, the apse façade and the crypt of the Sagrada Família were added to the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO to the works of Antoni Gaudí. The last consecration of the Sagrada Familia took place in November 2010 by Pope Bendedict XVI, at the same time the cathedral was elevated to the status of basilica minor.

PICTURES: Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Photo gallery: Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Financing of the Sagrada Familia

The entrance to the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona seems almost puny considering the size of the cathedral, Spain - © Pavel Kirichenko / Shutterstock
© Pavel Kirichenko / Shutterstock

La Sagrada Familia was built as a church of atonement, which means that one hundred percent of its financing comes from private funds. At the same time, the 2.5 million visitors who marvel at the church every year make a not insignificant contribution to the progress of the still ongoing construction work.

The construction of the Sagrada Familia is promoted by an ecclesiastical foundation, which manages the budget and plans and carries out the individual construction projects. In 1895, an independent, private and authorized building authority was established by the then Bishop of Barcelona, Jaume Català.

However, the management of the funds and the activities of the Foundation are delegated to a person outside the ecclesiastical sphere, who works closely with the Building Authority. The members of the Building Authority, as well as the President of the Foundation, the Archbishop of Barcelona, carry out their activities altruistically.

Origin of the Sagrada Familia

The facade of the Sagrada Familia is decorated all over with stone figures and ornaments, Barcelona, Spain - © VLADJ55 / Shutterstock
© VLADJ55 / Shutterstock

The construction of the Sagrada Familia was started in 1882, when Jose Maria Bocabella y Verdaguer founded the "Association of Devotees of Saint Joseph". This association began shortly thereafter to promote the construction of an expiatory church in honor of the Holy Family. Thanks to a generous donation, a total of 12,800 square meters of land were purchased for the construction of the Sagrada Familia. The foundation stone for it was laid on March 19, 1882, the feast day of Saint Joseph, by the then Bishop of Barcelona.


After the diocesan architect Francisco de Paula del Villar withdrew the project due to disputes with the promoters, he was succeeded by one of the most important figures of Catalan culture and international architecture: the world-famous Antonio Gaudí. His studies drew him to Barcelona, where he also founded his family and created most of his spectacular works.

Gaudí's gigantic house of worship

The ornamentation at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is sheer overwhelming, Spain - © VLADJ55 / Shutterstock
© VLADJ55 / Shutterstock

Gaudí made good progress with the work on the church because he was supported by a large number of donors. A donation of very large proportions finally caused him to deviate from his original plan: Instead of building the church in the neo-Gothic style, he now wanted to build it larger, more monumental and more innovative. Gigantic towers were to make his work visible from afar. Gaudí's ultimate goal was to explain the teachings of the church through the building.

The church offers a lot of Christian symbology, which was deliberately designed by Gaudí. Thus, the building tells the life of Jesus and the story of faith. The 18 bell towers represent Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the four evangelists and the twelve apostles. The building fronts symbolize the human life of Jesus from his birth to his death, the interior represents the heavenly Jerusalem.

Gaudí himself said of the church, "La Sagrada Familia is created by and reflected in man. It is a work in the hands of God and the will of man."

Stained glass windows refract light in the entrance hall of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain - © VLADJ55 / Shutterstock
© VLADJ55 / Shutterstock

The famous architect was always keen to make construction work safer, more comfortable and faster. For example, he introduced the use of carts to transport building materials.

Gaudí, in addition to building the church, also founded a school for the children of the workers, as well as for local children who were members of the parish. In the years before his death in 1926, he devoted himself entirely to the Sagrada Familia, which is why no other works of his were created during this period.

Sagrada Familia - Gaudí's tomb and legacy

Interior view of the magnificent Basilica Sagrada Familia, whose construction was started in 1882 by the famous architect Antonio Gaudí, Barcelona, Spain - © VLADJ55 / Shutterstock
© VLADJ55 / Shutterstock

Gaudí's remains rest today in the crypt of his masterpiece. After his death, various architects continued to work on the church, all adhering to Gaudí's original plan for the Sagrada Familia.

In the period of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, the further construction of the church was suspended. Instead of continuing to build it, on the contrary, individual parts of it were destroyed. It was only after the war that the burnt crypt was rebuilt, and many destroyed models and patterns from Gaudí's time were also reconstructed.


In 1952, the 35th Eucharistic Congress was held in Barcelona, during which some events were held in the Sagrada Familia. In 1955, for the first time, an entire day was dedicated to collecting donations for the Church. This action was so successful that it was repeated in the following years.

In 2002 Antonio Gaudí was celebrated in a special way: In honor of his 150th birthday, the International Year of Gaudí was declared. Today, workers and architects still follow Gaudí's plan for this gigantic church. La Sagrada Familia, the church in the center of Barcelona, is today one of the most important landmarks of the city and the entire country.

Visit to the Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona by night, undisputed masterpiece of architect Gaudí, Spain - © Vladyslav Danilin / Shutterstock
© Vladyslav Danilin / Shutterstock

The entrance fee for the probably most famous church in the world is of course not quite cheap, but it is definitely worth it. Even from the outside, the gigantic house of worship is breathtaking, but the interiors are actually even more spectacular to look at!

Those who want to have the imposing church a little for themselves should be there right at the beginning of the opening hours at 09:00. Until about 10:00 the rush is not yet quite so great. After about 2 hours, one has seen everything within the cathedral including climbing the towers and the small Gaudí museum in the basement. Particularly interested visitors can of course spend the whole day in the Sagrada Familia.

Tip: The Sagrada Familia and Park Güell, among others, are included in the Barcelona City Pass.

Related links:

Official website of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona