The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia , or most popular called the Sagrada Familia, is a large, privately-funded Roman Catholic church that has been under construction in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain since 1882 and is not expected to be complete until at least 2026.
Considered the master-work of renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926), the project’s vast scale and idiosyncratic design have made it one of Barcelona’s (and Spain’s) top tourist attractions .
When you visit the building you will see the contrast in the stone color between the front and back of the building. Also the actual style of construction appears somewhat different between the new and old parts of the building.
The architect Francisco de Paula del Villar designed a neo gothic church and led the construction which started in 1882.
When Antoni Gaudí took over this project , as lead architect at the age of 31 , he devoted most of his life to the construction of the church. Instead of sticking to the original plans, Gaudí changed the design drastically. The neo gothic style made way for Gaudí’s trademark modernist style, which was based on forms found in nature. When he died in 1926 only one facade (the nativity facade), one tower, the apse and the crypt were finished. Because Gaudí was constantly improvising and changing the design while construction was going on, he left few designs and models. And most of these were destroyed during the civil war in 1936.
After Gaudí’s death in 1926 construction slowed dramatically due to a lack of funds and the civil war. Construction pace started to pick up again in the mid 1950s and now two facades and eight tower have been completed.
Still, architects now have a clear idea of what Gaudí had in mind. The last version of his design called for a church 95m/312ft long and 60m/197ft wide. The church will be able to accommodate 13,000 people. When finished, the Sagrada Familia will have a total of 18 towers.
Much controversy surrounds the building of the Sagrada Familia. Today new construction materials are being used which, some feel, Gaudi himself would not have used.
Even though the Sagrada Familia is far from finished, the remarkable church is well worth a visit. You can visit the crypt were Gaudí is buried. A museum tells the story of this great architect and the history of the church.
You can also visit the towers. An elevator and a long walk will lead you to the top of a tower from where you have a magnificent view over Barcelona. The climb is not recommended for those with fear of heights or for people with claustrophobia.
Regardless of all the controversy surrounding the Sagrada Familia it is a magnificent building and an absolute must-see when you visit Barcelona .