La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia. Unfinished, unashamed, unbelievable. Barcelona’s most ostentatious cathedral and Gaudi’s most prolific work of art. A trip to Catalunya’s capital is not complete without visiting this place.

Situated right in the middle of the city, with its own metro stop, La Sagrada Familia Barcelona is a world famous landmark. Built from 1882, it has been a labour of love and one of the only cathedrals built entirely from donations. Expected to be finished in 2026 on the 100th year anniversary of Gaudi’s death, it will be his greatest legacy.

Entrance to La Sagrada Familia

The Grand Entrance to La Sagrada Familia

I went early in the morning to beat some of the crowds and it began to get busy after 9am. I picked up an audio guide which I would recommend. There is so much history and symbolism to understand in La Sagrada Familia; its worth paying for the audio tour.

Exterior Artwork on La Sagrada Familia

Intricate Artwork with Big Sculptures

 

Detail of art on La Sagrada Familia

Looking up at the layers of detail in the arches

Just approaching the front entrance, you get an idea of the massive scale and extensive detail of this cathedral. The sculptures are full-sized humans and animals and a mixture of very traditional gargoyles and ultra modern contemporary figures. Religious words and phrases are carved into each section and every inch teams with layers of art.

Then you walk inside.

Inside La Sagrada Familia

Incredible space in central nave with high ceiling, giant columns and detail

The space is unbelievable. My eyes were drawn up the tree-like column structures to the ceiling and I felt so small in the cavernous central nave. Despite the number of people already gathering and tour groups, it was very quiet. You can find yourself alone looking at one of the many piece of art or stained glass windows and it was a very relaxed atmosphere. The cloisters you walk through on the outside protect La Sagrada Familia from any sounds from the city. It is a strange calm, like being in a man-made forest of stone.

Stained glass in La Sagrada Familia

Stunning colourful stained glass

 

Stained glass in La Sagrada Familia

Magical atmosphere when light hits the stained glass

I adored the stained glass against the white of the interior. Such a wonderful contrast. Modern yet religious, it is perfect for the space and when the light hits, colours dance all over the side naves.

Modern geometric design in La Sagrada Familia

Modern geometric design in La Sagrada Familia

The structure has been built to mimic nature therefore has few straight lines. Gaudi was against straight lines in his work, favouring curves and spirals but these were mixed with geometric designs. It was like nothing I had seen before and possibly the most unusual and distinctive cathedral I will ever see.

The Lord's Prayer in spanish

The Lord’s Prayer in spanish

 

Main altar in La Sagrada Familia

Looking at the main altar

 

Ceiling in La Sagrada Familia

The ceiling is fantastic!

 

Crucifix above main altar in La Sagrada Familia

Crucifix above main altar

 

Altar, organs, stained glass in La Sagrada Familia

Altar and organs in La Sagrada Familia

 

Coloured glass against white building

Tree columns and coloured glass against white

After walking around the interior and listening to the audio guide on history, symbolism and the construction, I headed to the Nativity Tower. This was the tower I had picked to go up and explore. Tickets have various options and you can choose between the Nativity facade or the Passion facade when you book at this link.

Please go up one of the towers if you do visit La Sagrada Familia. The views are phenomenal and you get up close to all of the design details on that side of the cathedral. It really is worth the extra few euros.

View from La Sagrada Familia

View from Nativity Tower, La Sagrada Familia

 

Looking up at tower of La Sagrada Familia

Looking up at the spires being worked on

 

Looking down inside Nativity Tower in La Sagrada Familia

Looking down inside Nativity Tower in La Sagrada Familia

 

Decoration on Nativity Tower, La Sagrada Familia

Decoration on Nativity Tower with full sized doves

 

Spires on Nativity Tower, La Sagrada Familia

View of spires on Nativity Tower

In the original designs by Gaudi, there were 18 spires planned for La Sagrada Familia Barcelona. These would represent the 12 apostles, 4 Evangelists, the Virgin Mary and the tallest at 170m would represent Jesus Christ. I would love to see La Sagrada Familia finished but this has been an extremely controversial topic among the residents of Barcelona and even the whole of Spain.

Plans and part of the interior of the cathedral were destroyed by anarchists. Many critics believe this is far from the vision Gaudi had for the people’s cathedral and others say it is a monstrosity in the city and the real cathedral of Barcelona should not have competition. It certainly is a dominant feature of this part of Spain and one of the most famous religious buildings. Whatever your views, it is unmissable.

Spire up close on the Nativity Tower

Spire up close on the Nativity Tower

 

Spiral staircase La Sagrada Familia

Spiral staircase mimicking nature

Back inside at the museum exhibit, there is further explanation about the shapes and construction of Gaudi’s work. These elements are found not only in La Sagrada Familia but in his houses throughout Barcelona. Casa Mila, Casa Batlló and Park Güell all have beautiful examples of his style.

Information points La Sagrada Familia

Information points on architecture and symbolism

 

Geometry and design of La Sagrada Familia

Information points on geometry and symmetry in La Sagrada Familia

So why visit here? Is it worth the price of the ticket?

It is expensive. I’ve travelled through a lot of Europe and live in the UK which has some expensive tourist attractions but La Sagrada Familia is one of the top for price. At 15.00 Euros basic entrance, you need to decide whether this is for you. If you commit to visiting, I think you might as well get entrance, go up one of the Towers and get an audio guide for 24.00 Euros. The audio guide gives a really good amount of detail and takes you to various parts of the building as well as details on the tower, Gaudi and construction progress. It was my must-see attraction so I felt it was worth spending a bit extra as a value traveller.

The architecture, art and scale of La Sagrada Familia are further reasons to explore this place. It is a gigantic work of art and labour of love.

It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most visited places in Spain.

It was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI and you can attend mass (not regular weekly/monthly) and there are places for prayer and reflection. Check updates for live mass details at La Sagrada Familia

Practical Information

La Sagrada Familia is open from 9.00 until 20.00 with the crypt open from 9.00 until 10.00 then 18.00 until 21.00 most days

The towers have a lift up but descent is on foot down spiral staircases. Wear good shoes or supportive sandals

It is a religious building therefore dress respectfully.

Any bags you carry will be checked before entry. No food is permitted and you must have the print out of your ticket

La Sagrada Familia Barcelona

Sagrada Familia selfie!

 

Gaudi's workshop

Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia school for worker’s children

Check out the small school Gaudi had built for worker’s children and go into the park opposite and get views of the outside from different angles. I would recommend La Sagrada Familia to everyone. A very unique cathedral in Barcelona.

La Sagrada Familia Barcelona

Standing outside of La Sagrada Familia

Have you visited La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona? What did you think?

 

28 Comments

  • Such an inspiring piece of architecture!

  • Such beautiful photos – you’ve inspired me to visit Barcelona!
    Simone x

  • Tami says:

    Saw this post last week on my mobile but couldn’t see the photos–so GLAD I came back to check it out on my desktop. Your photos are amazing, and so is the cathedral!

  • heather843 says:

    Love your stained glass window pics, so pretty with the sun behind them. Barcelona was the first place I ever travelled without my family and the Sagrada Familia the first icon I visited, still remember that climb!

  • titi81 says:

    Barcelona is on the top of my bucket list and Sagrada Familia is one of the reasons. Great pictures by the way!

  • Claudia says:

    It truly is a work of art. I visited it when I was a child and my parents took me to Spain on vacation. I wonder what it would look like to me now 🙂

  • This is without a doubt, one of the most impressive buildings in Europe. Great pictures! I love the place.

  • What a great article and your photos are amazing! I enjoy all of the historical detail you provide around Gaudi’s particular style of architecture. When I saw this beautiful work of art in person it was closed so I only explored the crypt, which was also very cool.

  • I have to say, I saw it when I was a teenager and I remember not liking it, and even now when I see it in pictures I can’t say I find it “beautiful”. But since so many travelers love it, I’ll give it a second chance :)
    Valeria

  • Sarah says:

    This is such a beautiful place. We loved it when we went – a long time ago now – and would really love the chance to go back too. Great pics as well.

  • it’s unbelievable that the Sagrada Familia is still uncomplete! I visited it a few years ago and I liked it. I’m not such a big fan of Barcelona in general, but Gaudi’s works are outstanding!

  • Gaudi’s architecture is what makes Barcelona so unique, and the Sagrada Familia is his masterpiece. I always love seeing photos and checking on the progress.

  • Amazing Photos!!
    We have visited Sagrada Familia last year (for the second time) and I was impressed by such a stunning project! I really hope the might finished the cathedral so we can enjoy the masterpiece.
    Nat 🙂

  • Connie Reed says:

    This is amazing–and to think that it isn’t even finished yet. I visit cathedrals whenever I get a chance, and your photos show that this one is awesome in the true sense of the word.

  • This is one of my favorite sites and architects. Thanks for the unique visions too.

  • Was just thinking what you wrote – looks like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Amazing

  • What an amazing work of art. Surely, one has to visit on any trip to Barcelona.

  • Milosz Zak says:

    Much like any architect,Gaudi would modify his work mid-construction, and so there’s a lot of talk that the final design and conception of the Sagrada Familia is at best an approximation of his fantastic vision.

  • The Roaming Renegades.com says:

    It is almost unreal!! it is like something from a fairytale, it’s crazy how long it has been unfinished really but with the level of detail you can see why. It is inspiring that these piece of art are continued to be worked on in the modern day. Love your photos too.

  • Such a vast work of art! I’ve been to Barcelona once but never got to see this! Your photos are beautiful.

  • I adore the Sagrada Familia. Even as an atheist I found it deeply moving. I absolutely agree about going early – either that or buy a timed entry ticket. When I arrived at 9.50 for a 10am entrance, the queue was already an hour long. I love, love, love your photos. Lots of people write about the Sagrada Familia, but it’s rare to see photos that do it justice as yours do.

  • Vanessa says:

    I love visiting houses of worship when I travel – they are so much more than religious sites and the artwork is always stunning.

  • Love this post. Your photos are gorgeous. Usually I don’t like visiting churches as I find them a bit eery, but this one looks stunning.

  • WanderingCarol says:

    I haven’t been here for a long time, but I visited the Modernist Cemetery in Lloret de Mar, designed by some of his contemporaries. What an intriguing art movement, and so unique.

  • Jen says:

    I hadn’t taken the opportunity to go inside the building and really enjoyed your photos. What a fascinating place.

  • Revati says:

    Loved La Sagrada. It definitely left us in awe, and really stands out from all the other churches we’ve seen in Europe. We’ve made a vow to return when it’s completed, and here’s hoping that happens in our lifetime!

  • Alana says:

    We’re headed to Barcelona in October and I’m happy to read you thought the visit was worth it. We’ll definitely be getting the audio guide, thanks for the suggestion!

Comments are closed.