Visit Sagrada Familia
What do you get if you cross a church with a porcupine?
The Sagrada Familia is arguably Spains most recognized building and, of course, has a huge number of plaudits to its name. When in Barcelona almost everyone goes to visit Sagrada Familia.
But why should you visit Sagrada Familia in Barcelona?
Let me take you through the highlights, reasons, opening times, ticket costs and other delights of the Sagrada Familia so you can plan your visit and make it a success!
Over 4 Million People!
That’s how many are estimated to have visited the inside of the Sagrada Familia last year. Also, another 7 million just stood outside to look at it!
Top Tips when you Visit Sagrada Familia
- Firstly, book online in advance! The tickets are markedly cheaper.
- Booking online helps avoid the queues.
- There are a limited number of places and they certainly do fill up fast.
- In addition, we chose to go up the Passion facade as it gave great views of the city.
- Cover up! Because it is a religious building, bare arms are not acceptable.
→ When you book online your ticket will be cheaper! It comes as a download which you print off and hand in when you arrive. It’ll help avoid the lines and, importantly, standing around in the hot Barcelona sunshine!
→ Places are limited and they fill up fast! Booking online ensures you get a place in an allotted time. Just turn up and after a bag check, you’re in!
You can choose a number of ticket options ranging from €15 to €29 depending on which tour you want to do. If you want to go up either of the towers, they give great views but cost a little more. We went up the Passion tower.
So let’s dive right into your Sagrada Familia visit.
The first stone was laid in 1882 under the supervision of the Chief Architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano. However, due to an argument with the promoters he resigned and Antoni Gaudi took over the role.
He proposed a radical new design, which at the time, must have blown people’s minds! I’ve often wondered how Gaudi’s brain worked!
How did Gaudi do it?
Was it just one of those unique minds that comes along every generation? Or was it just 30 seconds of illegal herbage? I suspect the former!
While he was alive, he oversaw the construction of the Nativity Facade, an incredibly detailed piece of work. He well knew it would be a project he would not live to see completed. Gaudi was fond of saying
“My client is not in a hurry,”
when asked about the timetable and completion dates of the building work.
Gaudi’s dream, however, still being worked on today. Yeah, they’ve not rushed it! Although to be fair, with the civil war and regime it is understandable. During the civil war, Gaudi’s incredibly detailed plaster models were all destroyed so it has been a real problem for the current architects to visualise Gaudi’s dream. While it is debatable how close the Basilica is to Gaudi’s original vision, work is moving on at a very swift pace.
It’s organic appearance is, of course, reminiscent of some of Gaudi’s other buildings in Barcelona as you would expect. I found the Sagrada Familia to be an enormously impressive building with Gaudi’s influences shining through.
The Basilica looms over Barcelona reminding the city of its Catholic heritage, indeed the apse of the Basilica was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI in November 2010. Visually the Sagrada Família is an organic and almost cave-like structure, with stalactites and stalagmites framing the entrance.
Of course, the building work is very much in evidence as you can see from the photos. Cranes and scaffolding cover some of the exteriors which, unusually, gives the visual impression of a very busy termite mound.
When finished the inside will have space for 15,000 worshippers, with an immense choir loft capable of holding 1,500. The cathedral is planned to be finished in 2026 to (notably) coincide with the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.
Inside the Sagrada Familia
So, let’s get into it!
Inside the Sagrada Familia, a riot of coloured light, varied enough to keep any deranged magpie happy, greets you from all the stained glass. The high vaulted ceilings with their decorative stonework, for example, give a real sense of the attention to detail in the design. With this in mind, wherever your eye roves there is always something new and quirky to look at.
So, what does it mean?
Are they stars in the ceiling, are they indeed, cogwheels? Does it show we are all small parts making up a larger universe? I suspect philosophers could debate the meaning behind this Basilica for ages, because after all, they seem to have made the ‘when a tree falls in the forest‘ debate last a while, eh?
As I have mentioned before when describing Gaudi’s work it, undoubtedly, has a feel of the organic. I’m no stranger to seeing some fabulous architecture but Gaudi’s work is unique from my, albeit, narrow perspective.
At some points, you can see below your feet from the main visiting floor to the crypt. The crypt is used as a place of worship. (Yeah, they do religion here too!) Depending on your tour you may get an audio guide to explain, which will give you the lowdown on the interior.
The Passion facade of the Sagrada Familia
Your ticket choices can include a trip up the tower of the Passion facade or, equally, the Nativity Facade. In short, we chose the Passion Facade in this instance, as that looked out on most of the city. It’s a lift ride to the top for a look at the amazing views of the city and then down a long spiral staircase to get back to ground level.
The views of the city are amazing and the continuing works are still very much in evidence up there. It is the entry fee that pays for all the works, so at least you know your money is going to a good home!
Views from the top of the Basilica Sagrada Familia
What the Sagrada Familia will look like when finished
“I had visited the Sagrada Familia 12 years ago when inside was still a dusty building site but could remember the grandeur of the outside. It still impressed me, it is staggering to think that the current structure is only half it’s finished height, already inducing a jaw-dropping sense of the impossible.”
Make sure you wander around both sides;
“The Passion and Nativity facades are so very, very different. The Nativity facade looks to me like it was made by a family of beavers, a stone equivalent of a dam! The Passion facade is more my thing, the stunning columns reaching out of the ground like tree roots, evoking memories of the interior of Casa Batllo.
Inside it is very much a Cathedral; gorgeous stained glass and breathtaking high ceilings. I can’t wait to return to visit Sagrada Familia in 2026 when it is finished, to be once again bowled over by the unimaginable reality.”
So says Tam, my significant other! To find out why I trust Tam’s artistic opinion, click on her name for her Bio and to see her work in the Harry Potter and Pirates of the Caribbean films!
Visit Sagrada Familia – Conclusions
Yes, to be sure, it’s well worth a visit. Even if, like me, you are an atheist, the building can still be appreciated for its majesty and grandeur as well as its unique architectural style.
Unless you have seen it, explaining what the Sagrada Familia is like is tricky, to say the least! I have included a gallery of images at the bottom of this post so you can see what it looks like for yourself.
It’s the first attraction to receive 100,000 reviews on TripAdvisor and now has over 127,000 reviews at the time of writing in January 2018.
Have you been to the Sagrada Familia? What are your top tips for visiting?
Post them below to help other travellers!
Click on the google map to get directions to Visit Sagrada Familia
Also, see my article about the metro system How to get around Barcelona for a guide on the best and most cost-effective tickets for the Barcelona Metro.
Tickets for the Sagrada Familia
Tickets range from €15 to €29
€15 is just for a basic visit and €29 is for the full tower tour and audio guide
Tickets are available here
All prices correct at time of writing January 2018
Sagrada Familia Opening Times
November to February,
9 am to 6 pm
9 am to 7 pm
April to September,
9 am to 8 pm
9 am to 7 pm
December 25, 26, January 1 and 6,
9 am to 2 pm
Sale of tickets finishes 30 minutes before closing time, but I would advise you to have at least an hour there especially if you have Sagrada Familia Tower Tickets!
For more on our Barcelona Gaudi Trail Adventures, click below
A Gallery of the Sagrada Familia.
In this case, the dramatic converging verticals technique I have used in nearly all my photos of the Sagrada Familia are the product of the extreme wide angle 10-20mm Sigma lens I used. More information about it can be found in my ‘What’s in my Travel camera Bag‘ feature
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