The Sagrada Familia is an exceptional place of worship. With its avant-garde architecture, intricate details and storytelling designs, you could find yourself here for hours! Although the official starting date of work on the basilica is March 19th 1882, construction truly began over a year later on August 25th 1883. Five generations have already witnessed the temple’s rise in Barcelona, with a schedule for it to be completed in 2026 - a full 100 years since Antoni Gaudi's death.
Originally it was architect Francisco de Paula del Villar who was in charge of the project, where he envisioned a classic gothic style. But eventually work was entrusted to Antoni Gaudi who was aged just 31 years old. He completely changed the original project and began building his most famous work. From the time he took over the project until his death in 1926, Gaudi worked to build his unique temple that was intended to become a universal masterpiece combining all symbols of Christianity.
The life and teachings of Jesus are represented on portals of the three facades. Each one represents one of the three crucial events of Christ’s existence: his birth: his Passion, Death and Resurrection; and his present and future Glory. As the sun moves across the sky, its light further emphasises the qualities of each facade.
The Nativity Facade
The nativity facade symbolises the birth of Jesus. Built between 1894 and 1930, it is the only facade to be built in almost completion while Gaudi was alive. He saw the facade with a symbol of life and creation, that is why he introduced its exuberant ornamentation, including animals and tools combined with symbols, such as the Tree of Life.
The Passion Facade
Work on the Passion Facade began in 1954 and it was completed in 1976, its construction guided by drawings made by Gaudi. Decorative work was carried out after its initial completion. As its name suggests, this facade is dedicated to the Passion of Christ, which explains its simplicity and unadorned design.
The Facade of Glory
Work began in 2002, It will be the largest and most important of the three facades, because it is the one that will give access to the basilica's central nave.
This facade is dedicated to the heavenly glory of Jesus and represents his rise to heaven. Knowing that he would not see the beginning of this facade in his lifetime, Gaudi drew only a few sketches showing his general ideas and plans, representations of Death, Final Judgement and Glory, as well as Hell for anyone that deviates from God's path.
It is strongly marked by Gaudi's personal style and inspired by nature. The moment you walk in, you are greeted with large pillars that support the structure but Gaudi created these columns shaped like tree trunks to give a feeling of being in a forest rather than inside a church.
Gaudí planned for the light inside the Sagrada Familia to be harmonious with all the stained glass in the apse to have graduated tones to create an atmosphere suitable for introspection.
He was a humble man with a lasting legacy, if you ever visit Barcelona make sure you visit his awe-inspiring masterpiece!