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La Sagrada Família

The Sagrada Família is one of the most famous churches in the world and a must-see for anyone visiting Barcelona. The monumental church of Gaudí, now declared a basilica, is visited by millions of people annually and is undoubtedly one of the most important symbols and most visited monuments of Barcelona and all of Spain. If you are planning to visit the Sagrada Família soon, it’s wise to plan your visit in advance.


It is now mandatory to book your tickets for the Sagrada Família in advance. The only way to visit the Sagrada Família is by purchasing Sagrada Família tickets online:

🎟️ Buy now: Sagrada Familia Fast Track (skip the lines)

🙋‍♂️ Buy now: Sagrada Familia Guided Tours (90-minute guided tour + access to towers!)

Buy now: Sagrada Familia + Park Güell Combo (the two top attractions of Barcelona, one ticket)

Basilica of the Sagrada Família in Barcelona

Each year, about 4 million visitors come to see the Sagrada Família in Barcelona. The Sagrada Família basilica is thus the most visited monument in all of Spain. Anyone visiting Barcelona must see the Sagrada Família church.

What’s special about the Sagrada Família is not only its monumental size or that it’s still unfinished, but also its groundbreaking architecture, which is unlike any other Gothic and neo-Gothic churches in the city.

What to See and Do at the Sagrada Família

The Sagrada Família is one of the most important must-sees on a city trip to Barcelona. It is considered Gaudí’s masterpiece and has become one of the most famous symbols of the city and the country over the years.

If you plan to visit the Sagrada Família, you now need to reserve your visit and buy tickets online. I highly recommend a visit to the Sagrada Familía; it’s not for nothing one of the most important sights in Barcelona.

Visiting La Sagrada Família

There are people who travel the world to see the Sagrada Família up close. It’s unthinkable to go to Barcelona and not visit the Sagrada Família.

The Sagrada Família is a very special church. It’s one you must see at least once in your life, even if you’re not a fan of churches.

From the outside, you can enjoy the monumental architecture of the Sagrada Família. But the best is undoubtedly to enjoy this beautiful building from the inside. That’s when you can experience the magic of the Sagrada Família and Gaudí.

Buy your tickets for La Sagrada Família online
👉 Buy your tickets for La Sagrada Família online.

The Interior of the Sagrada Família

Gaudí’s vision for the Sagrada Família was based on Gothic and Byzantine cathedrals. His intention was to express the Christian faith through the architecture and beauty of the building and to communicate the message of the evangelists.

He wanted to make the Sagrada Família a place for peaceful retreat.

Although the Sagrada Família is not yet complete, it’s definitely worth buying tickets to visit the interior, or at least, to take a look at the crypt, which is still free.

Interior of the Sagrada Família The interior of the Sagrada Família is breathtakingly beautiful and unlike any other church. The colors that fall through the stained glass windows, the columns that rise to the sky and twist against each other until a forest is formed, the ceiling decorations… Gaudí thought of everything in the smallest details and made the Sagrada Família an unparalleled monument.

Gaudí designed the Sagrada Família in the shape of a cross, the Christian or Latin cross. Contrary to what was customary until then, he placed the cloister of the church in the middle of the nave and not next to it. In doing so, he restored the original purpose of Christian churches, namely to create a closed space for meditation.

As with many of Gaudí’s works, he took into account the proportions of the spaces. In the case of the Sagrada Família, Gaudí used a square of 7.5 x 7.5 meters (the distance between the columns of the nave) as a basis, and all internal dimensions are multiples of this: the nave is 90 meters long, 45 meters wide and 45 meters high in the middle and 30 meters wide on the sides, while the transept is 30 meters long and 60 meters high.

The Exterior of the Sagrada Família

As soon as you approach the Sagrada Família, you quickly discover how incredibly beautiful and special this church building is. Not only because of the elongated towers (where the highest church tower in Europe will soon stand!), but also thanks to all the beautiful decoration and architectural details that make it such a unique building.

The Sagrada Família has no less than three facades, each depicting a phase in the life of Jesus: the birth, the suffering, and the glory.

At present, two of the facades are finished, the Nativity Facade and the Passion Facade. The Glory Facade will eventually be the main entrance, celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Facade of the Nativity

The Nativity facade is on the northeast side (Carrer Marina) and was the first portal to be built, still under the direction of Gaudí. This facade depicts the birth of Jesus Christ and his first years, surrounded by many nature scenes.

The Nativity facade contains three portals, those of Charity, Hope, and Faith.

In the center stands the image of the birth of Jesus. Here you see baby Jesus, Joseph and Mary, the three wise men and the shepherds who come to worship the child, as well as musicians and trumpeting angels announcing his birth.

The portal is crowned by a Tree of Life, where white doves fly around and the Eucharist is represented in the form of a pelican. Both the doors and some of the sculptures on the Nativity facade are the work of Japanese sculptor Etsuro Sotoo, who first came to Barcelona in 1978 and fell in love with the Sagrada Família.

Facade of the Passion

The southwest facade is the Passion facade (Carrer Sardenya) and is about the suffering of Jesus Christ. This side was built half a century after the Nativity facade and is therefore finished in a much more modern style.

In Gaudí’s eyes, this facade had to depict the suffering of Jesus Christ during his Passion and inspire fear. Hence, this facade looks much simpler and somber.

The sculptures are the work of Josep María Subirachs and depict the Passion of Jesus in chronological order, from the last supper (bottom left), the betrayal of Judas (bottom middle), the trial of Jesus (right), to his flogging (in the middle) and crucifixion (top middle).

There are also six long columns, and the portal is crowned by 18 pillars in the shape of a bone.

The three portals are named Crown of Thorns, Gospel, and Gethsemane, and carry texts with which Subirachs tells the Passion through words, textures, and inlays.

Facade of the Glory

The Glory facade, located on the southern side of the church (Carrer Mallorca), will become the main entrance and the front facade of the Sagrada Família once it is completed.

The Glory facade celebrates the glorious eternal life after the death of Jesus. It is on the southern side because that’s where the most sunlight is.

This facade will have a wide staircase five meters high, columns pointing to the sky with Jesus in the middle and above him, the Holy Spirit and God the Father, plus various other sculptures and ornaments that will make this facade the main portal of the Sagrada Família.

The Towers of La Sagrada Família

The Sagrada Família has no less than 18 towers ranging from 110 to 170 meters. These are connected by bridges and crowned by beautiful pinnacles with colorful mosaics and white balls.

All towers in the Sagrada Família have a specific meaning. For example, each facade is crowned by four towers representing the 12 apostles. In the middle are the tower of the four evangelists, at 135 meters, and the Mary tower, at 130 meters, crowned with a gigantic star.

In the future, the Jesus tower will stand here, at 172.5 meters high and crowned with a large cross. This will make the Sagrada Familia the highest religious building in Europe.

Note: For safety reasons, people with limited mobility or vision and children under 6 years old are not allowed to visit the towers. Children up to 16 years must be accompanied by an adult to visit the towers.

The Sagrada Família is estimated to be completed by 2030.
The Sagrada Família is estimated to be completed by 2030.

The Sagrada Família Museum

Besides the church, it’s also possible to visit the museum of the Sagrada Família, which is located under the temple. This is included in the entrance. Here you will discover everything about the history of the Sagrada Família and the plans for the future.

The Sagrada Família Souvenir Shop Of course, there is also a souvenir shop at the Sagrada Família. The souvenir shop of the Sagrada Família is, as usual in such places, encountered at the end of the tour.

For those interested, there are all kinds of objects and books about the Sagrada Família and Gaudí for sale. In the immediate vicinity of the Sagrada Família, you will also find numerous souvenir shops, where you can buy small replicas of the Sagrada Família as souvenirs.

Sagrada Família Architect, Style, and Design

Although the construction of the Sagrada Família church began in 1882, it was the architect Antoni Gaudí who, in the autumn of 1883, took on the task of making it a monumental and innovative temple.

He worked on the construction of the church until his death, and it was built thanks to donations, hence it is also known as a penance church or reconciliation church.

The Sagrada Família is built in a style known as Catalan Modernism, characteristic of late 19th-century Barcelona. This style is marked by asymmetrical and organic forms and decorative elements inspired by nature.

Lightfall in Sagrada Família Barcelona
Lightfall in Sagrada Família Barcelona

Gaudí designed the Sagrada Familia as a stone Bible that explains the history and mysteries of the Christian faith: the towers symbolize Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, the 12 apostles, and the four evangelists; while the facades depict the three key moments in the life of Jesus Christ: the birth, the suffering, and the resurrection. The crossing, the Heavenly Jerusalem, symbolizes peace.

The Sagrada Família is an exceptional temple in many respects. Its revolutionary structure, where Gaudí omitted buttresses and used arches, slanted columns, and hyperboloid vaults, along with its complex symbolism, make the Sagrada Familia a very unique place.

Gaudí’s plan was to build the tallest building in Barcelona, but he ensured that the work of a man did not surpass that of God by keeping the height of the temple below 192 meters, the height of the Montjuïc mountain.

Gaudí’s imprint is most visible on the Nativity facade and the crypt of the Sagrada Família: both declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

The interior of the Sagrada Família is also part of Gaudí’s design: it is like walking in a forest full of light and colors.

Sagrada Família Stained Glass Windows
Sagrada Família Stained Glass Windows

The Passion facade, on the southwest facade, was added later in a clearly more modern style. The angular sculptures adorning the facade are the work of the sculptor Josep María Subirachs.

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Special Features of the Sagrada Família

When you visit the Sagrada Família, you will be overwhelmed by all the splendor that this church has to offer. However, there are four aspects that deserve some extra attention.

1. Star of the Sagrada Família

Since the end of 2021, a huge star crowns the Mary Tower of the Sagrada Família. The star has 12 points and weighs a hefty 5.5 tons. In the evenings, the star, along with the façades of the Sagrada Família church, is illuminated and can be seen from afar due to its large size.

The Mary Tower itself is currently the tallest tower of the Sagrada Família basilica and stands 138 meters high.

2. Magic Square of the Sagrada Família

Many visitors may not know this, but the Sagrada Família is full of puzzles and hidden details. Take, for example, the magic square of Subirachs.

The magic square is located on the Passion facade and contains, as the name suggests, a square of four by four cells with various numbers.

When you add up all the numbers (in rows, columns, and diagonally), you always get the number 33 as a result. This symbolizes the age of Jesus when he died.

Discover the Mysteries at the Sagrada Família
Discover the Mysteries at the Sagrada Família

3. Schools of the Sagrada Família

Next to the church, in an inconspicuous corner within the grounds of the Sagrada Família, stands the building known as the Schools of the Sagrada Família. Here you can see, among other things, a reproduction of Gaudí’s workshop and a room converted into a classroom from that era.

The Schools of the Sagrada Família were built by Gaudí between 1908 and 1909 as a school for the children of the people working in the Sagrada Família, although they were also used by other children from the neighborhood, especially from underprivileged families.

4. Crypt of the Sagrada Família

The crypt of the Sagrada Família is still an unknown place for many. It is located in the basement of the temple and is not open for visits except during the ceremonies that take place there.

The crypt was the very first part of the Sagrada Família to be built. This was still under the leadership of its first architect, Francisco del Villar. After his withdrawal from the project, it was up to Gaudí to complete the crypt.

Since the construction of the crypt was already so advanced, Gaudí left most of it as it was (a neo-Gothic crypt with seven chapels), albeit with some modifications, such as the location of the altar or the stairs.

The seven chapels of the crypt are dedicated to the Holy Family of Jesus. The beautiful altar was made by Josep Llimona and contains, among other things, an altarpiece of the Holy Family that comes from Casa Batlló.

After his death, Gaudí was buried in his beloved Sagrada Família church. Here in the crypt is Gaudí’s burial site.

Tourists who wish to visit it need to report to the entrance at the gate on the left side of the Passion Facade (Carrer Sardenya) just before the ceremony begins. Admission is free.

Attending a Mass in the Crypt

You can attend a ceremony in the crypt of the Sagrada Família at the following times:

  • Weekdays: at 9:00 AM (Spanish) and 8:00 PM (Catalan).
  • Saturday and before a holiday: at 9:00 AM (Spanish).
  • Sunday and holidays: at 10:30 AM (Catalan), 11:45 AM (Spanish), 1:00 PM (Catalan), 6:30 PM (Catalan), and 8:00 PM (Spanish).

Attending a Mass at the Sagrada Família

On Saturdays and Sundays, international masses take place at the main altar in the Sagrada Família. The services are free and held in various languages (Catalan, Spanish, French, English, and Italian).

Access for the mass is set up at the Nativity facade (Carrer Marina) half an hour beforehand. After the mass, you are allowed to view the inside of the Sagrada Família for free.

Weekday masses also take place, but in the Crypt of the Sagrada Família.

The number of seats is limited (700 seats and 2000 standing places), so be sure to arrive at least ten minutes before the start to secure a good spot.

Church Services in the Sagrada Família

  • Saturday and before a holiday: at 8:00 PM.
  • Sunday and holidays: at 9:00 AM.

La Sagrada Família Illuminated

In the evening when it gets dark, the Sagrada Família is beautifully lit. It’s a great excuse to walk by and enjoy this sight!

During special occasions, the lighting of the Sagrada Família can take on special colors or special projections can be made, such as during Semana Santa (Holy Week).

History of the Sagrada Família

The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família traces its origins to 1866 when Josep Maria Bocabella i Verdaguer founded the Asociación Espiritual de Devotos de San José (Spiritual Association of Devotees of San José).

In 1874, the association promoted the construction of a reconciliatory temple dedicated to the Sagrada Família, the ‘Holy Family’.

In 1881, thanks to generous donations, the association was able to buy a plot of 12,800 m2 to build the temple between the streets of Marina, Provença, Mallorca, and Sardenya.

The construction of the Sagrada Família church began on March 19, 1882, based on the plans of the diocesan architect Francisco de Paula del Villar.

The Statue of Jesus in the Sagrada Família
The Statue of Jesus in the Sagrada Família

In the autumn of 1883, Antoni Gaudí was commissioned to continue the work. After receiving a large anonymous donation, Gaudí decided to depart from the old neo-Gothic design. He proposed a new, more monumental and innovative temple, both in terms of forms and structures and construction.

Gaudí worked on the construction of the temple until his death in 1926. Since then, various architects have continued the work according to Gaudí’s original idea.

Since November 2010, the Sagrada Família has been officially called a basilica, after being consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI.

When the monumental temple of the Sagrada Família is finally completed, there will be 18 towers (12 dedicated to the apostles, 4 to the evangelists, one for Jesus, and another for Mary) and the temple will be the highest religious building in Europe.

Interesting Facts about the Sagrada Família

  • The Sagrada Família is the most visited monument in Spain, with about 3 million visitors per year.
  • The Sagrada Família is a penance church and has been funded exclusively by alms since the beginning. The donations were slow to come, so initially, Gaudí went door to door asking for money. Since an entrance fee has been charged to visit the Sagrada Família, construction has progressed more quickly.
  • Construction of the Sagrada Família started in 1882. A century later, in 1982, Pope John Paul II visited the church, and since November 2010, the Sagrada Família has officially been called a basilica, after being consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI.
  • While Gaudí was still alive, he made several designs, models, and drawings that his successors used as a guide. Unfortunately, most of this material was lost during a fire in the civil war.
  • The Sagrada Família is formed by three monumental facades, each depicting one of the three highlights of Jesus’ life: his birth (at Carrer Marina), his suffering, death, and resurrection (Carrer Sardenya), and his heavenly glory, in the present and future, at the future main facade (Carrer Mallorca).
  • The Glory facade, where Gaudí placed the main entrance of the Sagrada Família with a staircase atop Carrer Mallorca, is the last step in the construction of the temple. This step will have significant consequences for the neighborhood residents: two entire blocks, up to Carrer Aragó, will need to be removed to create the promenade Gaudí designed.
  • When the Sagrada Família is finished, it will contain 18 towers ranging from 90 to 170 meters high. Of the towers, 12 will be dedicated to the apostles, 4 to the evangelists, one to Mary, and one to Jesus. For the last two, several blocks in the immediate vicinity will need to be demolished. The tallest tower, at 172.5 meters high, will be dedicated to Christ and will become Europe’s highest church tower.
  • Gaudí was a fervent believer and had great respect for the Creator. That’s also why the tallest tower is no higher than 172.5 meters, so as not to cast a shadow on Montjuïc, the highest mountain in Barcelona.
  • There is a five-meter-high bronze entrance door with the complete ‘Our Father’ in Catalan, and you can find ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ in no less than fifty languages. There are two hidden Gaudís in the Sagrada Família, one in the Nativity facade in Joseph’s face and the other on the Passion facade, on the left side of Veronica, who holds a cloth with Jesus’ face.
  • Subirachs, the author of the Passion facade, left various puzzles for the visitor. The most famous is the magic square with numbers. The sum of which is always 33, the same age at which Christ died, but also the number of degrees of Freemasonry in the Scottish Rite.
  • In 2005, the crypt and the Nativity facade of the Sagrada Família were declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The Surroundings of the Sagrada Família

In the immediate vicinity of the Sagrada Família, there are also fun things to see and do.

Firstly, the gardens around the Sagrada Família are a popular spot to take a photo of the basilica in all its grandeur. You can also sit on a bench there or have a picnic.

Photo Opportunity in the Park in Front of the Sagrada Família
Photo Opportunity in the Park in Front of the Sagrada Família

I recommend grabbing a delicious Frappuccino at Starbucks and enjoying it while looking at the Sagrada Família church.

Another favorite of mine is the view of the Sagrada Família from Avinguda Gaudí, which is also a pleasant promenade for walking and sitting on the terrace. At the end of Avinguda Gaudí, you’ll also come across another gem of Catalan Modernism: the Hospital de Sant Pau.

Restaurants Near the Sagrada Família

While you need to be careful of tourist traps near the Sagrada Família, there are still several good places to grab a bite or have an extensive meal.

Some of my favorite addresses near the Sagrada Família are:

  • Camelia Art Café (Carrer de Padilla, 264): A beautiful brunch restaurant with excellent coffee near the Sagrada Família.
  • Can Pizza Sagrada Família (Passatge de Simó, 21): A well-known pizza restaurant in a quiet street just behind the Sagrada Família.
  • Bodega de Barri (Carrer de Lepant, 280): A simple bar for enjoying some tapas.
  • La Trocadero (Carrer de la Marina, 269): A vegan restaurant with vegan burgers and vegan hotdogs.

Buy Your Sagrada Família Tickets Now

Almost everyone who visits Barcelona wants to visit the Sagrada Família, and this is evident from the crowds around the church. Although you can enjoy the beauty of the Sagrada Família from the outside, it’s best to buy tickets to see it from the inside, preferably with an audio guide. Only then will you fully experience the magic of the Sagrada Família and Gaudí.

As the number of visitors allowed inside the Sagrada Família is limited and no more tickets are sold at the box office, it is now more important than ever to buy your Sagrada Família tickets online in advance. Make sure you have bought your ticket online beforehand, otherwise, you will not be admitted.

👉 Read more about the different ticket options for visiting the Sagrada Família.

Tip: The Sagrada Família is always super busy, so my tip is to come early in the morning (between 9:00 and 10:00 AM) or later in the afternoon (between 3:00 and 5:00 PM). The Sagrada Família is also enchantingly beautiful at sunset. A visit to the Sagrada Família lasts about an hour and a half (two hours if you want to go up one of the towers).

Visiting the Sagrada Família for Free

Some parts of the Sagrada Família, such as the crypt where Gaudí is buried, can be visited for free. You also get free access to the Sagrada Família when you attend the international mass on Saturday and Sunday.

On La Mercè (September 24) and Sant Jordi (April 23), open days are also organized at the Sagrada Família, although the number of places is limited.

How to Get to the Sagrada Família

The Sagrada Família is located in the center of Barcelona, in the district of l’Eixample, to be precise. The Sagrada Família church is very easy to reach by metro. If you get off at the Sagrada Família metro station (L2 and L5), you will find it right away.

All hop-on-hop-off buses and many bike tours also have a stop at the Sagrada Família.

The entrance to the Sagrada Família is via the Nativity Facade (Carrer de la Marina), and the exit is near the Passion Facade (Carrer Sardenya).

People with disabilities should report to the information desk at Carrer Sardenya or the group entrance at Carrer de la Marina upon arrival.

Useful information

Price: From €26 (including audio guide). For a ticket including a visit to the tower, the price is €36.

Discount for students and seniors (over 65).

Free for children up to and including 10 years old and people with a recognized disability of 65% or higher + 1 companion (who must report to the information desk at Carrer Sardenya).

Opening Hours: From November to February, from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

In March from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM. From April to September from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM.

In October from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM. And on December 25 and 26 and January 1 and 6 from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

Address: Carrer Mallorca, 401 08013 Barcelona

Public Transport:

Metro: Sagrada Família (L2, L5)

Bus: 19, 33, 34, B24, D50, H10, N1, N7