La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

Looking for a day trip while visiting Barcelona, Spain? La Sagrada Familia, unfinished yet after 100 years of construction attracts almost 3 million visitors a year. Close to many Barcelona Apartments and hotels, La Sagrada Familia makes for a great afternoon or just a stroll by to admire the architecture.

Formally known as the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, this iconic Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Spain is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Though still incomplete, it was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI and named a minor basilica in 2010.

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, SpainConstruction on this unique structure began, amazingly, in 1882. Architect Antoni Gaudi joined the project in 1883, and commenced transforming it into his own interpretation of a combination of Art Nouveau and Gothic styles. While Gaudi himself died in 1926, his life’s work has continued, with one notable hiatus during the Spanish Civil War in the 1950s. Construction reached the halfway mark in 2010, and the goal is to complete the basilica by 2026, the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.

La Sagrada Familia was one of the beneficiaries of the financial boon provided by the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games. This has allowed for accelerated construction, as has the development of computer-aided design technology. In addition, stone is now milled by machine rather than by hand.

Gaudi’s design specifies a grand total of 18 spires: these represent the Twelve Apostles, the four Evangelists, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus Christ. Upon their completion, topped by traditional symbols of the individuals represented, the spires will make La Sagrada Familia the tallest church in the world, surpassing notables such as Ulm Minster in Germany, Lincoln Cathedral in England, and Estonia’s St. Olaf. The peak is deliberately designed to be just 1 meter shorter than the highest hill in Barcelona – Gaudi didn’t want his masterpiece to surpass those of God.

When complete, the church will have three facades: the Nativity facade, the Passion facade, and the Glory facade. First to be constructed, the Nativity facade celebrates the life of Jesus, and depicts life in the form of countless animal sculptures along with the Tree of Life. Its three east-facing porticos represent the virtues of faith, hope, and charity. Gaudi envisioned the sculptures as painted in a lifelike fashion.

The Passion facade appears austere in comparison – lacking the ornamental sculpture and detail of the Nativity facade, its resemblance to the bare bones of a skeleton is intended to evoke Christ’s suffering during his crucifixion. The Glory facade represents the path to God via death and final judgment.

Currently visitors may access the nave, the crypt, and the Passion and Nativity towers. They’ll have to wait several more years before attending mass.

Enjoy a afternoon visiting La Sagrada Familia before heading back to your hotel or  Barcelona Apartment to plan your next adventure in Barcelona.

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