Okay, okay, I know – everyone knows what Sagrada Família is, how does it look, where it is located and who was its constructor. Yet, I need to write about this building. Even though I was perfectly aware of all those things that I have just written, I was taken aback by its majesty, size and beautifulness. To be honest, you should start your visit in Barcelona exactly here.
This monumental basilica is known in Spanish as «el Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia», which translates to the «Expiatory Temple of the Sacred Family». Although the official starting date of work on the basilica is March 19, 1882, construction truly began over a year later on August 25, 1883.
The first idea that always came to my mind when I was thinking about this place was Gaudi. But! Originally, it was architect Francisco de Paula del Villar who was in charge of the project, which he envisioned in a classic Gothic style. His plans consisted of a three-nave church with elements such as blister windows, exterior buttresses and a high needle-like spire, all typical to Gothic architecture. But eventually, the work was entrusted to Antoni Gaudí in 1883, aged just 31 years old. Gaudí completely changed the original project and began building his most famous work (!!! Did you know that?), which marked his style, made him known worldwide, and allowed him to be known as the master of modern architecture. From the time he took over the project until he died in 1926, Gaudí worked to build this unique temple that was intended to become a universal masterpiece combining all symbols of Christianity.
The Sagrada Familia is an expiatory temple, that is to say, a place made to commemorate the reparation of sins made against God or the laws of the Church. The work is directly financed by donations made by visitors and the public, which explains its slow construction progress. Gaudí even 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». Construction continues today and its completion is scheduled for 2026, a date symbolic of the centenary of Antoni Gaudí’s death.
Gaudí was aware that the construction of the Sagrada Familia would last for centuries, which is why he proposed to focus on the front of the church; he wanted the generation that had begun the work to be able to enjoy a form of completion, as well as inspire future generations to continue the construction of a project that had begun before their time.
The façade, as well as the towers and the interior, are amazing, and look like something impossible – impossible to be projected, and, above all, constructed! Yet – it is real. When it comes to numbers, 14,000 people can fit inside, there is a 170-meter high central tower dedicated to Jesus (and, therefore, it is the tallest religious building in the world!). Moreover, you can find there 12 bells that represent the 12 apostles of Jesus. I encourage you to be one of more than 2,5 million tourists who visit the basilica every year.
– A. Homańska.