The Sagrada Familia is a famous Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Spain, designed by Antoni Gaudi. The construction of the Sagrada Familia commenced in 1882 and came to a temporary halt in 1926, when Antoni Gaudi passed away.
The church’s construction has since resumed and is anticipated to be completed by 2026, marking Gaudi's death's centennial. Although incomplete, Sagrada Familia attracts millions of tourists every year. Continue reading to learn more about the architectural style and design of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.
While Antoni Gaudi is credited with being the genius who envisioned the Sagrada Familia, he is not the only one who worked on the basilica. The construction of the cathedral started in 1882. When Gaudi passed away in 1926, the church was only 25% complete. Over the course of 140 years of its construction, nine architects have taken on the project.
In 1872, Josep Maria Bocabella, inspired by the basilica at Loreto after a trip to Italy, harbored dreams of constructing a church. He enlisted the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar to design a Gothic revival church. Construction commenced on March 19, 1882, under Villar's direction, but he resigned a year later, on March 18, 1883. By that time, the apse crypt had been completed.
Following Gaudí's passing, his primary disciple, Domènec Sugrañes i Gras, assumed responsibility for the project and diligently continued the work until the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 brought the progress to a halt.
Sugrañes had first met Gaudi in 1905, during his final year at the school of architecture, and the two collaborated on several of Gaudi’s projects, including the Bellesguard house, Casa Batlló and Casa Milà. Over the course of the 10 years during which Sugrañes led the efforts on Sagrada, the Nativity Facade was successfully completed.
Following the conclusion of the Spanish War, Francesc de Paula Quintana i Vidal, a collaborator with Gaudi on the Sagrada Familia, assumed control of the project. Under his guidance, the construction of the Passion facade commenced.
Additionally, Quintana played a pivotal role in restructuring the Temple Board of the Sagrada Familia.
However, his most crucial task involved the reconstruction of models for the basilica that had been vandalized by anarchists during the war. The recreation of these plaster casts was integral to ensure Gaudi's vision for Sagrada Familia was not destroyed.
Born in 1890, Isidre Puig Boada first met Gaudi in 1914 while he was still a student.
He had been working with Gaudi, Gras and Vidal, on the Sagrada Familia. In 1950, Boada was appointed director of this construction. He continued in this role until 1974.
His works El temple de la Sagrada Família (1929), L'església de la Colònia Güell (1976) and Gaudí's thoughts (1981), also serves as a great insight into Gaudí's political and social thoughts.
A student of the Barcelona School of Architecture, he joined Isidre Puig i Boada and Francesc Quintana to continue the work on Sagrada Familia. He collaborated with them to work on the Passion façade. From 1974 to 1983, he assumed the position of project director. During this timeframe, he revisited his architectural roots, deeply influenced by Gaudí's style. In 1982, he experienced heart failure, prompting a professional step back.
Nonetheless, he continued in his role as director for an additional year.
Francesc de Paula Cardoner i Blanch, who graduated in 1965, worked along with Isidre Puig i Boada and Lluís Bonet i Garí in the workshops of the Sagrada Familia Expiatory Temple. Between 1983 and 1985 he took on the role of the director of the project. He was also the architect of the Gaudí House-Museum in Park Güell under the direction of Josep Maria Garrut.
Son of Lluís Bonet i Gari, Jordi Bonet i Armengol , took on the role of construction director and coordinator of the Sagrada Família from 1987 to 2012. During his time, the work on Sagrada started becoming mechanized. He introduced the use of computers and technology into the design and construction process.
In 2012, when he stepped down as the director, he took on the role of Architect Emeritus and Advisor to the Board of Trustees
In 2012, Jordi Faulí i Oller took over as the architect of the project and is the current director architect of the Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada Familia.
He joined the team of architects working on the basilica in 1990 when Armengol was the director. Under him, new technologies such as CAD, computer simulation, and 3D images were used to create a virtual plan of the temple so that the design envisioned by Gaudí could be recreated. In October 2015, Oller announced that 70% of the construction of Sagrada Familia was complete.
The architectural design of the basilica incorporates eighteen spires, symbolically representing the Twelve Apostles, the Four Evangelists, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus Christ in ascending order. As of 2010, eight spires have been constructed, with four gracing the Nativity façade and four adorning the Passion façade.
The central spire dedicated to Jesus Christ will be crowned with a monumental cross, while the four smaller spires will feature sculptures depicting the traditional symbols of the Evangelists—a bull (Saint Luke), a winged man (Saint Matthew), an eagle (Saint John), and a lion (Saint Mark). Upon completion, the Sagrada Família is poised to become the tallest church building in the world, a testament to its awe-inspiring design and symbolism.
In the construction of the Sagrada Família, the external walls bear the sole responsibility of supporting their own weight, as the weight and pressure from the vaults are transferred to the floor through internal columns.
These walls feature numerous openings such as rose windows, ogives, and large windows, that serve to significantly reduce the overall weight of the walls.
Antoni Gaudí employed hyperboloids extensively, aiming to implement the most effective technical and aesthetic solutions. This choice allowed sculptors to craft intricate details, including depictions of musician angels, singing angels, and the terminations of the pediments on these walls.
The elevated roofs of the central nave feature a succession of interconnected pyramids, linked to both each other and the expansive windows by sizable paraboloids. These structures are topped with lampposts that incorporate references to the Holy Family.
The roof and vault, reaching approximately 25 meters, are organized into four levels, each connected by small spiral staircases. Meanwhile, the flat roofs of the lateral naves are designed to accommodate larger windows in the upper walls of the central nave.
This architectural configuration not only provides structural support but also enhances the aesthetic appeal of the Sagrada Família's roofscape
Much like the exterior of the Sagrada Familia, the interiors are a showcase of Gaudi’s gothic naturalism architectural style.
Within the Sagrada Familia, the interior columns are crafted from various materials, each chosen to symbolize the hardness of distinct types of rock.
The tallest and most robust columns are constructed from a coarse volcanic rock known as red porphyry. These particular columns provide essential support to the central five towers of the Sagrada Familia.
Smaller and darker columns, composed of basalt, form the outer row of columns that uphold the basilica.
The smallest columns are crafted from granite sourced from Montjuïc. The deliberate selection of these materials not only serves structural purposes but also contributes to the aesthetic and symbolic richness of the interior architecture.
An apse is a semicircular area inside a church, typically located behind the altar. The Sagrada Familia crypt is situated inside this half-circle area. Antoni Gaudí is among those buried in the crypt, as are other important figures in the history of architecture. Stairs leading to the upper levels are located on either side of the apse. The inside of the apse contains seven chapels, each with a different design and purpose.
To one side of the apse is a throne upon which Jesus Christ sits while on the cross. Surrounding the cross are sizeable stained glass windows. These windows fill the inside with light and color that change throughout the day. Behind the altar is another set of stairs leading to organ pipes that produce solemn music.
Sagrada Familia's interior has five naves.
The central nave rises higher and farther than the others, connecting with the transept on one side and ending in the choir with its chapels at the rear.
The altar stands before an impressive set of stained glass windows
In the upper semicircular portion of the church, seven chapels encircle a central ambulatory and altar area. Stained glass windows adorn the space, heralding the arrival of the Messiah, invoked through seven distinct names.
The initials of each name combine to form the Latin phrase "Ero Cras," translating to "Tomorrow I will arrive."
Sagrada Familia's architecture follows the Late Spanish Gothic, Catalan Modernism, and Art Nouveau style.
Antoni Gaudi designed Sagrada Familia.
The Sagrada Familia architecture is famous for its unusual construction style and modern engineering technology.
Sagrada Familia was inspired by the Loreto Basilica in Italy. The founder of the Spiritual Association of Devotees of St John, Josep Maria Bocabella visited Italy in 1872 and was inspired to create a similar church in Barcelona.
Sagrada Familia's construction began in 1882, and it's still in progress.
Sagrada Familia is around 140 years old.
Sagrada Familia consists of stained glass windows, an altar, chapels, naves, columns, and facades.
Sagrada Familia's exterior consists of spires, tall roofs, carved walls, and large windows.
The columns, the altar, the chapels, the naves, etc., all are part of the interior of Sagrada Familia.
Sagrada Familia will be the tallest church upon its completion in 2026, with the central tower reaching a height of 170 meters.
Sagrada Familia is 90 meters in length and 60 meters in width.
Sagrada Familia is made of granite, stones, steel, glass, wood, etc.
You can purchase Sagrada Familia tickets online.
The construction is funded through private donations, ticket sales, and various fundraising initiatives.
"Ero Cras" means "Tomorrow I will arrive" and is formed by combining the initials of names in the stained glass windows, symbolizing the anticipation of the Messiah's arrival.
The Sagrada Familia is planned to have 18 spires. They symbolize the Twelve Apostles, the Four Evangelists, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus Christ.