The Basilica de la Sagrada Familia is one of the most impressive works of neo-Gothic architecture in all of Barcelona.
The old saying goes, “All good things come to them that wait.” Well, for those who were there at the laying of the Sagrada Familia’s foundations, it would seem this proverb has let them down. Officially the “Basilica de la Sagrada Familia,” it was designed by the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi and construction first began in March 1885. In 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the building and it became a minor basilica. It is perhaps the most recognizable building in Barcelona and it remains under construction (so for anyone waiting since 1882…). Despite being a modern building still under construction, it is UNESCO World Heritage Listed.
History And Background
- Year Consecrated: 2010
- Status: Underconstruction (For 135 Years And Counting)
- OpenToPublic? And it is
Aspects of the design have changed over time and the original design was based on the prevailing guidelines of the time. The original design called for neo-Gothic elections including buttresses, flying buttresses, a pointed bell town, and ogival windows. The architect of Antoni Gaudi was actually not the first architect, he is the one that took it in a current direction after he took over from diocesan architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. Gaudi was exceptionally ambitious with his designs.
The construction of this magnificent cathedral building is limited due to the fact that it relies solely on private donations. This limited funding has made the construction progress slowly. There was a pause in construction during the brutal Spanish Civil War where the country ripped itself apart between the Spanish Nationalists And Spanish Communists. During this destructive war, the revolutionaries in 1936 set fire to the crypt. It took 16 years to repair the damage they did and piece together the fragments of the master model.
It wasn’t until the 1950s that construction resumed albeit intermittently. Since then and aided by modern computer technology, construction has sped up and it only crossed the midway point in 2010. Some of the most challenging phases of the construction are yet to commence and it is not expected to be completed until 2026.
The architect, Antoni Gaudí, lived from 1852–1926 – so it is expected to be completed on the centenary of his death. That being said, it seems doubtful that this target will be met due to the delaying effects of the COVID-19 pandemic (that we are all too familiar with).
The design of this massive church is truly awe-inspiring and unlike anything else on earth. It is a testament to human engineering and art.
Today tourists can access the Nave, Crypt, Museum, the Passion and Nativity steeples, and – rather predictably – the shop. If you are thinking of climbing the steeples, then you ought to plan ahead as it requires a reservation. As funding for the Sagrada Familia is via private donations, until other basilica and churches in Europe, entrance is not free. Also, reservations can book out for a few days, so it’s best to reserve in advance.
- Cost Of Admission: 26 Euros or $30.50
- Costs Of Admission With Guide: 27 Euro or $32 (Only One More Euro)
- Included: Audio Guide And Download Of The Sagrada Familia App
Design And Symbolology
Sagrada Familia was designed to be a cathedral-sized building but it was not the intent to actually be a cathedral. The building is very complex and its structures are ornate. It has many steeples, double aisles, and an ambulatory with a chevet of an astonishing seven apsidal chapels.
The Sagrada Familia is to have eighteen spiers and eight of which had been built by 2010. The tallest is to be the one representing Jesus Christ. Below that one is four to represent the four Evangelists (the four Evangelists are the authors ascribed to the four Gospels of the New Testament – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).
Below this is one dedicated to the Virgin Mary (who is so centrally important to the Catholic branch of Christianity). Finally, there are 12 spires representing the 12 apostles (the original 12 apostles were Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, Jude Thaddeus, Simon, James, and Judas The Iscariot – although Judas Iscariot was replaced with Matthias after he betrayed Jesus and hung himself, Paul is also described as an apostle).
- Fun Fact: that Would Mean That John And Matthew Have Two Dedicated Spires
- Expected Final Height Of The Sagrada Familia: 172.5 Meters or 566 feet – The Tallest Church In The World
When the Sagrada Familia is completed it will be the tallest church in the whole world. The current holder of that title is Ulm Minster which towers at 161.5 meters or 530 feet.
In short, whether you are Catholic or not, the Sagrada Familia is one of the most stunning and intricate buildings in the world. And the world has been waiting a long time to see it!
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