The Sagrada Família, or to give it its full title, The Basílica de la Sagrada Família, is an unfinished basilica in Barcelona, Spain. You’ll find it in the middle of the city in the Eixample district. This one-of-a-kind temple is the work of genius architect Antoni Gaudí. This incredible building attracts almost 5 million visitors a year and is one of the most famous monuments in Spain and one of the top things for which Barcelona is famous. So, let’s dig deep and discover some of the most interesting facts about Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain.
7 Interesting Facts about Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain
1. Gaudí wasn’t the original architect
In 1881, Saint John Devotee Association (Asociación de devots de Sant Josep) bought a plot of land on which to build a temple. Architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano laid the first stone the following year. However, due to differences of opinion del Villar stepped down from the project in 1883. It wasn’t until later that year that Gaudí became the architect of the Temple. Gaudí was a young architect, just 31 years old, with only five years of experience.
2. Gaudí had grand designs for the temple
Gaudí’s original plans for the Sagrada Família were ambitious. His designs saw the temple have five naves, three facades and 18 towers. His idea for the Sagrada Família was for it to be a towering Bible in stone, telling all the tales of the Christian faith. The project was so massive that, from 1914 onwards, Gaudí stopped work on all of his other projects.
3. The towers are dedicated to the life of Jesus Christ
The 18 towers all represent important figures in the life of Jesus Christ. Twelve of the towers represent his disciples. Four towers are dedicated to his Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Another tower is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The tallest of the 18 towers is dedicated to Jesus Christ and will be topped by an impressive cross. It is scheduled to be completed in 2022. Reaching a total height of 172.5 metres it will be the tallest building in the city of Barcelona. When finished, it will also be the tallest church in the world.
4. Gaudi died before the Temple was complete
La Sagrada Família has three façades with each dedicated to a stage in the life of Christ. The three life stages are his birth, his suffering and his resurrection. Gaudí finished the bell tower of the Nativity Façade in 1925. It was the only one he was to see finished as he died a year later. As he was walking to church, a tram struck Gaudí and he died three days later on 10 June 1926 at the age of 73.
5. Gaudi’s grave is in the crypt
Gaudi lies in the crypt of the Sagrada Familia. His gravestone has the inscription: “Antoni Gaudí Cornet. From Reus. At the age of 74, a man of exemplary life, and an extraordinary craftsman, the author of this marvellous work, the church, died piously in Barcelona on the tenth day of June 1926; henceforward the ashes of so great a man await the resurrection of the dead. May he rest in peace.”
6. All architectural work is scheduled to be completed in 2026
The completion date for La Sagrada Família is 2026. A whopping 144 years since the beginning of construction and a mere one hundred years after Gaudí’s death in 1926. However, this is the scheduled year for all architectural work on the Basilica to be completed. There is still a lot of work left to be done on the Temple, for instance, the carving and the sculptural elements of the Glory façade.
7. The Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Basílica de la Sagrada Família is Spain’s most visited landmark. UNESCO inscribed the Nativity Façade and the Crypt of the Sagrada Família on its World Heritage list in 2005 as part of the works of Antoni Gaudí. These works feature six other buildings in and around Barcelona. The other buildings are: the Park Güell, the Palau Güell, the Casa Milà-La Pedrera, the Casa Vicens, the Casa Batlló and the Crypt of the Colònia Güell.