If you’re planing to visit Barcelona, the Sagrada Familia should be at the top of your list of things to see and do during your stay in the Catalan capital! You will be amazed by the huge proportions, the impressive architecture, and the beauty of this Gaudi masterpiece!
Before you head there, here is everything you need to know about the most beautiful building in the world and to organize your visit of the Sagrada Familia: when will it be finished, what will it look like, when is the best time to visit, how much does it cost, where to buy your ticket, etc.
History of the Sagrada Familia
When did the construction of la Sagrada Familia start?
Construction began in 1882 under the architect Francisco Paula del Villar. It was during a visit to the Vatican in 1872, that Josep Maria Bocabella, a bookseller, founder of the Spiritual Association of Devotees of St. Joseph, decided that he wanted a church similar to the ones he had seen in Italy to be built in Spain.
Who designed la Sagrada Familia?
If it had continued under Francisco Paula del Villar’s direction, the Sagrada Familia would have been a standard neo-Gothic church. However, he resigned a year later and Antoni Gaudi, probably the most famous Catalonian in the world nowadays, took over.
With only the crypt of the apse finished, Gaudi radically changed the plans and the current Sagrada Familia project was born to become a great example of Modernism. When Gaudi designed the Sagrada Familia, he had an ambitious plan that he knew he wouldn’t finish during his lifetime. That’s why he planned the construction in stages: this was done so that architects of different periods could add their own style to the design of the church. And indeed, when Gaudi died in 1926, only a quarter of the basilica was completed. That’s why talented architects have been taking over his work ever since over the years. Today, more than 20 architects and 200 builders work full time to get this incredible masterpiece project done!
To know more about Gaudi’s project, the Passion façade, the Nativity façade, and all the symbolism he used, have a look here!
Restoration of the Sagrada Familia today
When will the Sagrada Familia be finished?
It is said that the Sagrada Familia will be finished by 2026, which will be the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s tragic death (he was hit by a tram). Pressure is on!
You might wonder why it has been taking so long. Well, this incredible construction is fully privately funded, so, over the last century, building had been slowed or stopped few times because of money issues but also in 1936 when the Spanish civil war started. Once completed in 2026, the construction of the Sagrada Familia will have taken 10 times longer than the Great Pyramids of Giza, 123 years longer than the Taj Mahal and 50 years longer than the Great Wall of China!
Anyway, you don’t have to wait until then to go check it out: the inside has been opened to the public since 2012 and offers an incredible experience to 3 million visitors each year! This makes the Sagrada Familia the most visited attraction in Spain and one of the world’s top attractions according to TripAdvisor users worldwide.
What will the Sagrada Familia look like once it will be finished?
Once completed, the basilica will have three grand façades: the Nativity Façade, the Passion Façade, and the Glory Façade. The Nativity and Passion façades are already finished.
The Sagrada Familia will also have 18 towers. For now, only 8 are completed, and 2 can be visited: the Passion Tower and the Nativity Tower.
Each one of the 3 facades is made of 4 towers (a total of 12 towers) representing the Apostles of Jesus Christ. Next to these towers, close to the middle of the church, are 6 taller towers: 4 are dedicated to the Evangelists, one to the Virgin Mary, and the last and highest one to Jesus Christ. This last one will be placed in the center and will make the Sagrada Familia the tallest church in Europe with 172,5 meters (560 feet), but 1 meter smaller than Montjuic, the highest point in Barcelona: no man-made object should be elevated higher than the work of God, according to Gaudi.
How is the construction of the Sagrada Familia financed?
The full name of the Sagrada Familia is “el Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia”, which literally translates to the “Expiatory Temple of the Sacred Family”. Gaudi named it to say it was a place to commemorate the reparation of sins. So, it only makes sense that the project is entirely financed by donations made by visitors and the public: the construction is neither supported by the government nor the church, and the approximate 25 million Euros budget is entirely generated by entrance tickets and private donations. So be happy, your ticket is financing one the most beautiful building in the world!
Gaudí once said “the Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada Familia is made by the people and this is reflected in it. It is a work that is in the hands of God and the will of the people”.
Visit the Sagrada Familia during your stay in Barcelona
When is the best time to visit the Sagrada Familia?
To avoid the crowd and get the best light, choose to visit the Sagrada Familia early in the morning, from 9am to 12pm. Collect your audio guide as soon as you enter, and start your visit outside to admire the Nativity façade. Then head to the elevator to climb up the tower you picked: the lines are shorter early in the morning and going down the towers at this time of the day will be easier as the crowd is sparser.
Once you‘re done with the tower tour, you can fully enjoy the inside of La Sagrada Familia! You’ll be inside at the best time of the day: seeing the stained-glass windows around noon when the lights bursts through them, is a one of kind life experience!
Your second-best option if you cannot make it in the morning, is any time slot after 3pm. Always start with climbing the towers first and try to be inside between 5 and 6pm to capture the light stream shining through the amazing stained glass.
Remember to avoid the 12pm-3pm time slot as the Sagrada Familia is overflowing with tourists including day trippers from cruise liners stopping in Barcelona.
If you’re interested in capturing the exteriors, come back before the sunset when La Sagrada Familia is bathed in yellow sunlight. Also, it looks stunning at night when it is lit!
Here are the opening hours throughout the year:
- November to February from 9:00-18:00
- March from 9am to 7pm
- April to September from 9:00-20:00
- October from 9:00-19:00
- On 25 and 26 December and 1 and 6 January from 9:00-14:00
Ticket sales stop 30 minutes before closing time (15mn for Gaudi House Museum)
How much time do I need to visit the Sagrada Familia?
Allow 30 to 45 minutes for the outside, 30 minutes for the tower, one hour for the inside and 30 minutes to one hour for the basement museum depending on your level of interest. So more or less 3 hours in total is plenty of time to get a full tour of Sagrada Familia, including the museum.
How much does it cost to visit the Sagrada Familia?
Depending on if you want a guided tour, an audio guide, a tour that includes one of the towers, or a simple entrance ticket, you will pay between 20 and 28€ if you buy your ticket online (adult, 2020 prices).
Tickets are non-refundable and cannot be modified.
How to book a ticket to visit La Sagrada Familia?
Keep in mind that even if you can buy your ticket at the counter:
- you might have to queue for a long time
- it might be fully booked for the day
- you will pay more expensive
That said, we do recommend you purchase your ticket online on the official website far in advance, as soon as you know which date you’ll be visiting the Sagrada Familia: chances are high tickets will be sold out few weeks before. So buy your ticket here!
Secret Barcelona can also organize for you a private full day Gaudi Tour including a private guided tour of the Sagrada Familia. Contact us now to plan your visit!
Which of the Sagrada Familia towers is it best to visit?
When buying your ticket, you can choose whether or not you want to include a visit of the towers, and then you’ll have to choose between the Passion Tower and the Nativity Tower.
Many people wonder whether they should include a tower of Sagrada Familia in their tour or not. If you don’t mind heights, it can definitely be a bonus in your Sagrada Familia experience! But which tower should you choose? We do recommend you visit the Nativity tower since it was built by Antoni Gaudi himself. Plus, choosing this tower, you’ll have to walk on a bridge that connects two towers of the Nativity façade and offers incredible views over the city and the mountain range behind Barcelona!
During the peak season, you might not have to choose the tower you will visit: depending on the availability, you will get a chance to go up either the Nativity or the Passion Tower.
Where is the Sagrada Familia?
At the time, this unusual basilica church was surrounded by fields! It is now part of the fancy El Eixample neighborhood.
The street address is Carrer de Mallorca 401 (N 41º 24 ‘283 “| E 2º 10’ 486”).
You can get there easily using public transportation:
- Metro: L5 and L2, Sagrada Familia station
- Bus: 19, 33, 34, 43, 44, 50, 51, B20 and B24.