Sagrada Familia

The Iconic Facades of Sagrada Familia

The Architecture

The Sagrada Familia features a mix of Catalan Modernism, Spanish Late Gothic, Catalan Noucentisme and Art Nouveau. While the church began construction during the Art Nouveau, Gaudi has been credited with bringing Art Nouveau style much beyond its usual application as a surface decoration. 

While the Sagrada Familia was never meant to be a cathedral, it was designed to be one in terms of its scale. Featuring a shorter width than most other cathedrals in Europe, the Sagrada Familia showcases a complex symphony of parts, including numerous steeples, three portals, an ambulatory with seven apsidal chapels, double aisles and towers. 

The interesting thing about all these structures is how distinctly different they are in terms of both structure and ornament. Another highlight of the church is in its interior — the covered passages which form a rectangle around the church and passed through the narthex of its three portals. Also, unlike most other churches around the world, the Sagrada Familia doesn't boast of exact right angles inside or outside the church and very few straight lines in the design.

While the church is still being constructed, the areas open to the public still feel like a mystical castle straight out of a fairytale, with colourful stained glass windows framed by vaulting columns and an intricately carved ceiling.

The Sagrada Familia Facades


Nativity Facade

The Nativity facade, along with the Glory facade and the Passion facade, are the only parts of the Sagrada Familia which have been completely designed by Gaudi. The Nativity facade was constructed between 1894 and 1930 and is the only part of the Sagrada Familia that Gaudi saw built in this lifetime. The Facade is intricately designed and richly ornamented with marble animals like turtles, salamanders and pelicans, and a huge tree of life surrounded by white marble doves. It represents the birth of Christ and is symbolic of symbolic of birth, life, and light.

The Nativity facade faces the north east and has three entrances which represent the three theological values, namely, Faith to the right, Charity at the centre, and hope to the left, along with the Door of Jesus and the Tree of Life. The facade culminates with four bell towers dedicated to St. Barnabas, St. Matthew, St. Jude, and St. Simon.


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.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. 

 The Passion facade is supported by six large columns which resemble Sequoia trunks. It features a pyramidal pediment with 18 bone shaped columns atop the six columns and all this culminates in a large cross with a crown of thorns. There are scenes sculpted into the facade which are divided into three levels, Jesus' last night before crucifixion at the lowest level, the Calvary of Christ at the middle level and the Death, Burial and Resurrection of Christ at the highest level.


Glory Facade

The Glory Facade represents Christ’s eternal glory and is the only one yet to be completed. It features scenes of Christ’s rise to heaven and eternal bliss. Although unfinished, it is already the tallest of all the towers. 

Deemed the most important amongst the three facades of the Sagrada Familia, the Glory Facade provides visitors access to the basilica's central nave. One of the most recent additions to the construction process, work on the Glory facade began only in 2002 and is the only one yet to be completed. The Glory Facade represents Christ’s eternal glory and features scenes of Christ’s rise to heaven and eternal bliss. 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 was, which included representations of Death, Final Judgement, Hell and Glory.

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Fast Track Guided Tour of Sagrada Familia

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