Carrer de Mallorca 401, 08013 Barcelona, Spain
GPS: 41.404183348997, 2.1748949281295
Visiting Sagrada Familia (Holy Family) is the most emblematic building in Barcelona. Construction of this exceptional basilica began in 1882 and remains unfinished to this day. The creative and modernist design of this non-conformist project was the work of Antoni Gaudí, a Catalan architect who devoted more than forty years of his professional life to it.
The idea of building an expiatory temple came from Josep Maria Bocabella, a Spanish bookseller who founded a religious community dedicated to St. Joseph on his return from a trip to Rome. Originally, the construction of the Catholic sanctuary of the Sagrada Família was entrusted to two architects, Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano and Joan Martorell i Montells. The plan was to build a neo-Gothic church inspired by the sanctuary of Loreto, a major Christian basilica in Loreto, Italy, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. However, following profound disagreements with the promoter of the Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family (a religious association), the project was entrusted in 1883 to the young Gaudí, a pupil of Montells, who, at the age of 31, profoundly changed the nature of the project in order to create a singular and much more ambitious building. While his aim was to make it the tallest monument in Barcelona, Gaudí also intervened in other aspects such as the liturgy, the acoustics, the light, the altar and the candle to make it an icon of the city.
The Sagrada Família is a symbol of Catalan modernist architecture, with many religious references on its facades. In the midst of its construction, this grandiose complex was marked by the tragic death of its founder in 1926 (only the Nativity façade, the St Barnabas tower and part of the outer side of the apse wall were completed). Nevertheless, the work on the building continued in accordance with the architect’s plans. The monumental appearance, extravagance and confusing architecture of the Sagrada Família are unparalleled anywhere in the world. It is made of stone, brick, tile, glass and blocks of porphyry (magmatic rock) and features a profusion of decorative elements. This “temple of harmonious light”, as Gaudí liked to describe it, perfectly sets off the complex curves of its forms, which are adorned with sculptures and unusual towers. It is inside the building that Gaudí’s boundless creativity is displayed in all its splendour, with particular attention to detail. This master decorator drew his architectural inspiration from nature, God’s creation. After the completion of the Passion façade in 2018, the construction site began work on the four evangelist towers and the central Jesus Christ tower (Torre del Salvador), which will eventually be the tallest tower in the basilica (over 170 metres high). While a third of Sagrada Familia is still to be built, the end of the work is expected in 2026. As a symbol, this year is the centenary of the death of its brilliant architect Gaudí.