La Sagrada Família, in full – Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família in Catalan, “Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family” in English,- is a basilica that is now a major symbol of Barcelona throughout the world, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926), it is his most famous monument. Gaudí’s work on the building is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated and proclaimed it a minor basilica, as distinct from a cathedral, which must be the seat of a bishop.
In 1882, construction of Sagrada Família started under architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. The first stone was laid on St Joseph’s day, 19 March, 1882, in a ceremony presided over by the Bishop of Barcelona, Josep Urquinaona. In 1883, when Villar resigned, Gaudí took over as chief architect, transforming the project with his architectural and engineering style, combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudí devoted the remainder of his life to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.
Relying solely on private donations, Sagrada Familia’s construction progressed slowly and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Since commencing construction in 1882, advancements in technologies such as computer aided design and computerised numerical control (CNC) have enabled faster progress and construction passed the midpoint in 2010. However, some of the project’s greatest challenges remain, including the construction of ten more spires, each symbolising an important Biblical figure in the New Testament. It is anticipated that the building can be completed by 2026—the centenary of Gaudí’s death.
Free: Children 10 and under, people with accredited disability 65% or higher + 1 companion, the unemployed (Wednesdays from 2:00 pm), ICOM members. Discounts: students, under 30s, seniors. Barcelona City Pass (includes Sagrada Familia & Towers + Park Guell)
La Sagrada Familia
Carrer Mallorca, 401
The general entrance is on the Nativity façade, Carrer de la Marina.
Official website; www.sagradafamilia.org
A synthesis of Gaudí’s architectural theory and practice. The initial Neogothic in the crypt and apse evolves toward the parabolic shapes of the towers and the hyperbolic shapes of the vaults, foreseeing that sound has great importance. Gaudí began the four towers of the Birth facade, authentic gospel in stone and ceramics. The models and drawings that have been preserved allow the work to be continued by computer. Upon completion, it will have eighteen towers, the highest reaching 170 meters. In 2010, the nave of the basilica was covered, which had been one of the most eagerly awaited initiatives, and it can now be used as a place of worship. Known from its beginnings as the “Cathedral of the Poor”, because it is an expiatory temple, the ongoing work is financed by anonymous donations.
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