Petit Futé's opinion on SAGRADA FAMÍLIA
Gaudí's ultimate masterpiece, this basilica is the most visited monument in Spain! The project is expected to be completed in 2026.
Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família (Expiatory Temple of the Holy Family) is Barcelona's most emblematic work and Gaudí's absolute masterpiece. Under construction since 1882, the cathedral should be completed in 2026 to mark the centenary of the death of its illustrious creator.
The cathedral is located in the Eixample district, on land purchased at the time for a modest sum of 172,000 pesetas (a little over 1,000 €) by a Catalan bookseller named Josep Maria Bocabella. This philanthropist from Barcelona imagined the creation of a Catholic temple, the project of which was entrusted to the architect Villar. The first stone was laid on 19 March 1882, during a ceremony attended by the then thirty-year-old Gaudí. Shortly afterwards, Villar abandoned the project, which was finally entrusted to Gaudí in 1883. He is in charge of modifying the plans and giving them his incomparable style. This was the beginning of a lifetime's work, since he worked on the project until his death in 1926.
The architect, who completely redesigned the neo-Gothic bearing structures to evolve them into hyperbolic vaults and parabolic forms, succeeded in expressing his profound mysticism in the very symbolic and exuberant setting of this work, to which he devoted forty years. In addition to its sacred character, the Sagrada Família has become a monument to the glory of the Catalan ideal, and its ongoing completion is a real challenge for Catalonia. Indeed, for many years, the work was slowed down due to a lack of money. This was without counting on the generosity and determination of the Catalans who financed the building. In fact, this titanic work did not have a building permit until recently! After 136 years of work without any taxes being paid to the municipality, an agreement was signed in 2018 between Barcelona City Hall and the people in charge of the basilica. In fact, nothing seems to be able to stop this titanic project. Neither the death of Gaudí in 1926, crushed by a tramway on his way to the church of Sant Felip Neri, nor the destruction of the plans of the cathedral, burned during the civil war. A few models spared from the flames and documents published in specialized magazines will make it possible to reconstruct the plans more or less accurately. But let's not forget that Gaudí liked to rework his plans as the work progressed. Thus, the controversy has been with this project for decades....
The Sagrada Família consists of three monumental facades: the Nativity Façade, in the east; the Passion and Death, in the west; and the Glory Façade, under construction since 2002. Despite the work in progress, the Sagrada Familia is open for worship and visits. Once completed, the basilica will have 18 towers. The highest, that of Christ, should reach 172 meters high. The Sagrada Familia will thus become the highest cathedral in Europe, surpassing that of Ulm, in Germany (161.53 metres).
The 18 towers planned refer to the twelve apostles, the four evangelists, Jesus and the Virgin Mary. To date, 8 of them have been completed. In the shape of a shell, the façade of the Nativity, inspired by the Old and New Testaments, is decorated with angels, animals from Noah's Ark and rich plant motifs. Initiated in 1892, it is the only facade built during Gaudí's lifetime, who supervised almost all its construction. The sculptures of the Passion Portal, the current entrance to the sanctuary, were entrusted to the sculptor Josep Maria Subirachs, whose work has been controversial because of their great stylistic contrast to the naturalist statues on the Nativity façade. The sculptor Subirachs also created the bronze doors on the Passion façade, which contain various texts and sentences, including a passage from Dante's Divine Comedy. Inside the basilica, you can also visit the crypt where Gaudí's body rests and reach the top of the towers by elevator, which offers splendid views of Barcelona. In the basement, an exciting museum is dedicated to Gaudí and the construction of the temple. In particular, we can see very interesting models that allow us to better understand the architectural solutions used by Gaudí and based on hyperboloids, paraboloids and helical columns.
Sagrada Familia is one of the most visited tourist sites in Spain and receives more than 4.5 million visitors each year, so it is essential to buy your entrance tickets in advance and book a time slot to avoid queuing for hours. Allow a good morning or an entire afternoon for the visit. Many options are available on the cathedral site: we recommend that you opt for a visit with an audioguide and access to the towers for a very complete overview.
Consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010, Sagrada Familia is above all a place of worship. Every weekend, international masses are celebrated in several languages. They generally take place on Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 9am. Access takes place 30 minutes before the beginning of the Mass through the façade of the Nativity. Admission is free, but places are limited!
Information on SAGRADA FAMÍLIA
Every day from 9am to 8pm (6pm between November and February, 7pm from March to October). Admission from 17 €.
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