Explore the Iconic Facades of Sagrada Familia


The Sagrada Familia basilica or the Basilica of the Holy Family is a phenomenal architectural wonder situated in Barcelona. The minor basilica has been under construction for over 140 years and is the largest unfinished church in the world. The UNESCO World Heritage Site combines Spanish Late Gothic, Catalan Modernism, and Art Nouveau architectural styles.

The basilica, when completed, will have 18 towers, which will come together to form three glorious facades, namely, the Nativity, the Passion, and the Glory facades. Today, only two of three facades are complete.

What are the Sagrada Familia Facades?

Sagrada Familia Facades - Facades

A facade is a view that a few towers combine and create for the viewer. The Sagrada Familia has three major views, each dedicated to a different aspect of the life of Jesus. Of the eight complete towers, four are part of the Nativity facade, and four are part of the Passion facade

  • The Nativity Facade, facing east, is the oldest among the three, and is dedicated to the birth of Jesus.
  • The Passion Facade, facing west, is dedicated to Christ's Passion/death/resurrection.
  • The third is the Glory Facade, facing south, which will act as the main facade of the basilica and is dedicated to the glorious nature of Jesus even after his death.

Explore the Sagrada Familia Facades | Main Highlights

Sagrada Familia Facades - Nativity Facade

Nativity Facade

The oldest among the three Facades is the Nativity Facade which is dedicated to the early life of Jesus. The Nativity facade was constructed between 1894 and 1930 and is the only part of the Sagrada Familia that Gaudi saw built during his lifetime. The facade is divided into three portals upon careful observation. The one on the left is dedicated to Joseph and is known as the portal of Hope, the one on right is called the portal of Faith dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and the middle one dedicated to Jesus is called the portal of Charity. One can see the sculptures of Jesus’ birth, the shepherds, and the three Magi, along with angels around them.

Sagrada Familia Facades - Passion Facade

Passion Facade

Guided by drawings made by Gaudi, work on the Passion Facade started in 1954 and was completed in 1976. The Passion Facade represents the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ and is often considered the most iconic facade of the basilica. According to Gaudi, this facade was to be “Hard, bare and as if made of Bones” and the facade does elicit the as if it were made so. Strikingly different in form when compared to the Nativity Facade, this façade has a skeletal feel, with pillars resembling bones and expressive sculptures re-enacting the last week of Christ's life. 

Sagrada Familia - Glory Facade

Glory Facade

The newest one is the Glory facade which, upon completion, will provide access to the Basilica's central nave. The Glory Facade represents Christ’s eternal glory and features scenes of Christ’s rise to heaven and eternal bliss. The construction of the facade began in 2002 and is still far from being completed. Although unfinished, it is already the tallest of all the facades. Gaudi was well aware that construction of the Glory facade would not be completed in his lifetime and hence drew just a few sketches with a general idea of what his vision and plan were, and this included representations of Death, Final Judgement, Hell, and Glory.

Passion Facade or Nativity Facade - Which is Better?

While both facades are completely different from each other and equally magnificent in their own right, you might have to make a choice when visiting the basilica. When you purchase Sagrada Familia tickets, most tickets limit your visit to the ground level, and if you wish to have access to the towers, you must get a specific ticket with tower access. While making the booking, you will have to choose which tower you want to visit. Here's all you need to know to make a choice between the Nativity and Passion facade.

Sagrada Familia - Nativity Facade

Nativity Facade

The Nativity facade might be considered grander as they depict the birth and the early days of Jesus. The facade being the only one that was constructed during Antoni Gaudi's lifetime, probably best depicts his vision.

The visit to this façade begins with a lift taking you up Saint Jude’s tower. Once you get off the lift, you have to climb up the stairs until you reach a bridge located behind the cypress tree sculpture. The bridge connects the tower with the next tower: Simon’s. From the bridge, you can enjoy spectacular views of the city as well as view details of the towers from close. Afterward, you will head to the Saint Barnabas tower, which is the highest point you’ll reach at 75 meters. On your way down, you can make your way into the balconies, from where you can once again enjoy close views of the towers. As you climb the steps, there will be parts that are dark as they don't get sunlight and have not been fitted with electric lighting, but the view at the top makes it totally worth it.

Sagrada Familia - Passion Facade

Passion Facade

The Passion Facade depicts the poignant essence of Jesus’ life. This facade has a more bare-bones appearance compared to the grandeur of the Nativity facade, which is one of the reasons why visitors prefer the latter. However, the Passion facade depicts more iconic moments in Jesus' life. The Passion Tower is also a little higher than the Nativity Tower. While the facade was built almost 25 years after Gaudi's death, the plans for it have been based on Gaudi's model.

While the facade consists of four towers, you can only visit two of them. The visit would start with the lift taking you up the Philip Tower. Once you step out, you will find a platform at the top of the tower from where you enjoy the ocean view. You would then cross over to the Thomas Tower, where you will reach the highest point at 90 meters high. From here, you will make your way back to the ground level.

Access to Sagrada Familia Facades

Tourists visiting Sagrada Familia in Barcelona can view the Nativity Facade by purchasing a general admission ticket, which allows access to the exterior of the basilica. To visit the Passion Facade, they will need to purchase an interior ticket, granting entry to the basilica's interior where the Passion Facade is located. Both facades offer unique architectural and artistic experiences, making it essential to explore both parts of this iconic masterpiece. Tickets are required for both exterior and interior visits.

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Visitor Tips 

  • Purchase Tickets in Advance: To avoid long lines and potential disappointment, buy your Sagrada Familia tickets online in advance. This will not only save you time but also ensure you get access to both the Nativity and Passion Facades.
  • Plan Your Visit Time: Try to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid crowds. This will give you a more relaxed and enjoyable experience when viewing the facades and exploring the interior.
  • Guided Tours: Consider joining a guided tour. Knowledgeable guides can provide insights into the history, architecture, and symbolism of the facades, enhancing your appreciation of Gaudi's masterpiece.
  • Respect Dress Code: Remember to dress modestly and respectfully, especially if you plan to enter the basilica. Avoid wearing revealing clothing, as there are strict dress codes in place.
  • Visit Both Facades: Don't miss the opportunity to view both the Nativity and Passion Facades. Each has its own unique story and design elements, offering a well-rounded understanding of Sagrada Familia's significance. Take your time to appreciate the intricate details.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sagrda Familia Facades

What is the Sagrada Familia Facade?

The Sagrada Familia has 3 facades or faces of the basilica which are depictions and dedication to the birth, death and eternal life of Jesus.

Can I visit the Sagrada Familia Facade?

Yes, you can visit the Sagrada Familia facade by booking tickets. 

Do I need tickets to view the Sagrada Familia facades?

Yes, you will need tickets to view the Sagrada Familia facades up close. 

How many Sagrada Familia facades are there?

There are three facades to the Sagrada Familia, namely, the Nativity, the Passion, and the Glory facades. Today, only two of three facades are complete.

How many Sagrada Familia facades are completed?

As of now, only two of the three Sagrada Familia facades have been completed.

What does the Glory facade represent?

The Glory Facade represents the glorious eternal life after the death of Jesus.

What is the Passion facade and what does it represent?

The Passion facade is the facade to the south of the basilica and is dedicated to the death of Jesus.

What does the Nativity facade represent?

The Nativity Facade represents the birth and the early life of Jesus.

Which facade of Sagrada Familia is better?

Both completed facades of the Sagrada Familia are impeccable in design. While the artistic side of you will like the Nativity Facade, the emotional side of you may like the Passion facade.