Unique in the world, La Sagrada Família is a place both fascinating and mysterious, which, once seen, will haunt you the rest of your life. It is a work of epic proportions that defies definition. You don’t have to love the architecture or be a faithful believer in order to visit: the opportunity to appreciate the breathtaking scope of Gaudí’s project for yourself is reason enough to go there. Once inside, simply let the magic of the place take over.
A titanic construction
From the outside, you can admire the 8 towers of the Basilica. Constructed in the form of a church, once completed the towers will represent the 12 Apostles, the Evangelists, the Virgin Mary and Jesus. As the construction will not be complete until around 2026, 10 of the towers which will complete the Holy Family have yet to be added, although work on the central tower representing Jesus continues apace and you can see it rising from its foundations at the time of writing.
Related article: Old vs. New: La Sagrada Familia
The interior of the building consists of several chapels, most notably that of Saint-Joseph, that of Our Lady of the Carmelites which contains Gaudí’s remains, and that of the Virgin of Montserrat. The sanctuary is bathed in a supernatural light thanks largely to the enormous windows which merge the Gothic style with the architect’s own personal vision.
For the pillars of the central nave, the architect was inspired by the image of a tree. Thus, you can clearly distinguish in their design branches terminating in leaves (pictured left). Formed by perforated keystones, the ceiling of the central nave has a hyperbolic structure, cleverly designed to let in natural heat. In the crypt, you will find a museum, models of the church and a chronology of the site’s construction. The entrance is located next to the toilets. An ascent to the summit of the Passion tower will offer you a new perspective on the building as seen from its heights.
Related article: The Nativity Facade of La Sagrada Familia
Welcoming thousands of visitors per day, this site is one of the most visited in Spain. At times as many as 6000 people wait for at least 1 hour and 30 minutes before being able to enter the building. If you want to avoid the queues, you can reserve a timed visiting slot on the official website (there are other tourist agencies offering this service, but they tend to be more expensive).
Once you have your ticket, check the visiting time, as this most often indicates the time for beginning the ascent of the tower. For this reason, it is best to start your visit here. If you want to use an audio-guide, it is perhaps best to visit in the morning, because even if your timed ticket allows you to jump the queues outside, you might still have to wait patiently to pick up the audio-guide. Depending on which guide you have chosen, allow one and a half to two hours for the visit plus extra time for exploring the crypt and museum.
Find out whether you can benefit from any reduced entrance fees, some of which are offered on the official website: students are eligible for reduced entry fees (upon presentation of id), as are people aged 65 and over.
Don’t forget your camera
Majestic and magical, this is one Barcelona’s must-see monuments. An audiovisual show will guide you through the history of the church and its construction. In each facade of the church, two shops offer a large range of products where you may buy souvenirs. But the best souvenirs by far are those pictures you will take with your own camera, capturing the dreamlike moment of your visit. If you need a place to stay whilst visiting Barcelona, ShBarcelona has many rentals available, many of which are very close to La Sagrada Família.