11 Things You Should Know Before Visiting Antoni Gaudí’s La Sagrada Familia
Antoni Gaudí might be the unofficial saint of Barcelona. His architectural vision changed Spain’s city and captivated other architects and civilians around the world. Born in Spain in 1852, Gaudí’s name has become synonymous with the greats creating distinctly recognizable parks, public spaces, and homes.
Working at the forefront of the Catalan Modernism, his work looked to nature for his creations using natural, organic shapes paired with colorful mosaic tiles to bring his vision to life.
Dubbed God’s Architect, there is one building that has become so iconic that it is on par with buildings like Paris’s Eiffel Tower or, Rome’s Colosseum: La Sagrada Familia.
La Sagrada Familia has become the jewel of Barcelona attracting aspiring architects, the curious, and tourists each year. In fact, this church is the most visited attraction in the Spanish city, attracting over 3,000,000 visitors each year.
So you have probably seen La Sagrada Familia pop up in your news feed or have seen people talk about it, but how much do you actually know about La Sagrada Familia? As the summer approaches and as you begin to pick your next vacation location, consider checking out Barcelona just to view this architectural feat.
A Century Later
Sagrada Familia has been in construction for a long time; like a really long time. The massive project originally started to take shape in 1882. Nevertheless, Gaudí passed away in 1926 with only a quarter of the basilica completed. The architect was aware of this, however, he probably never would have thought it would take so long. How long?
Sagrada Familia is still being worked on, however, it is believed it has entered the final stage of construction, with its end day set to be completed in 2026. In short, the basilica has taken 150 years to complete
Anyone who has seen the cathedral will tell you that the church is one of the most unique looking structures they have ever seen. Gaudí very literally took the idea of a church and recreated it in his image. However, this has been a cause of controversy. Some locals hate the design while others think it detracts from other important monuments in the city.
Not All Gaudí
As mentioned above Antoni Gaudí was well aware that he would not be around for the completion of his masterpiece. Nevertheless, his original plans were destroyed by Catalan anarchists during the Spanish Civil War. Though some of the original plans have been reconstructed, some do worry if the building has stayed true to Gaudí’s plans.
It Almost Went Down
During the unrest of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, a group of anarchists broke into the Sagrada Familia and set fire to the crypt. Many important materials tied to the cathedral were lost during the fire, even threatening the very foundation of the building.
A Functioning Roman Catholic Basilica
Sagrada Familia is still a fully operational Roman Catholic basilica. Masses are held within its halls all throughout the year and is even used for special religious ceremonies. If you are planning to get your worship on, be prepared to make a respectful donation to the church.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site
In 1984, Sagrada Familia was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building’s unique architecture and innovation are what attracted this honor, making it one of seven buildings by Gaudí that fall under this category.
As mentioned above Antoni Gaudí found inspiration just above everywhere in nature and Sagrada Familia was no different. Gaudi studied animals, plants and even the stars to understand their geometry and function. You can see this vision manifest itself in the columns in the basilica.
Sagrada Família is covered in symbols, with each part of the basilica supposed to represent something. If you want to create your own Da Vinci code experience, this is the place to be. Antoni Gaudí was deeply religious and this can be seen in some of the symbols used.
Each of the 18 towers represents a figure from the Bible, with the largest tower dedicated to Jesus Christ, four towers for the Evangelists, a tower for the Virgin Mary and twelve towers for the apostles.
Expect a Lot of People
No matter the time of the year, expect Sagrada Família to be crowded. Hundreds of people are visiting the basilica each day, any day throughout the year. However, if you are willing to brave through the crowds, it will not detract from your overall experience. However, the best time to go and to take pictures is around 5-6pm or early in the morning.
Explore All of It
Both the interior and exterior of Sagrada Família is stunning and will be worth your time. From the outside, you can bear witness to the tremendous architecture and symbolism scattered throughout the exterior. While inside, expect to be bombarded with beautiful stained glass windows, ornate sculptures, inscriptions, and more religious iconography.
Gaudí is There
Antoni Gaudí made La Sagrada Familia his eternal home. Located in the underground of the basilica, visitors can see his tomb for themselves. His resting place is surrounded by four separate chapels with each one dedicated to a different figure.