When you visit Barcelona, one of the iconic sights is the Sagrada Familia which towers above the city. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is an unmissable part of any trip to Barcelona. Part of the mystique lies in its long history. The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, to give it its full title, was started in 1882 and it still isn’t finished. In part, that’s because construction of this Roman Catholic church has largely relied on the contributions of private donors. And the Spanish Civil War also interrupted proceedings. Despite that, construction has continued for more than a century.
A Work in Progress
The building we see today is the brain child of architect Antoni Gaudi, who started work on the project in 1883, a year after construction began. In essence, he devoted his whole life to it, as construction was still ongoing when Gaudi died in 1926. His extraordinary design has caused controversy since the inception, with onlookers divided among those who loved the Gothic features and wanted to be sure that future generations would realize Gaudi’s dream and those who disliked it because it was possibly more fabulous than Barcelona’s Roman Catholic cathedral. There have also been concerns at times about the stability of the building.
While it is odd to visit a tourist attraction that is still under construction, the magnificence of the parts that have been completed (such as the magnificent stained glass windows) are reason enough to brave the queues at the entrance. From the outside, each facade of the building represents a different aspect of Christianity – the Nativity, the Passion and the Glory. The multiple spires (8 of a planned 20, according to Gaudi’s vision) are instantly recognizable and anyone who has made the trek to the top (you’re likely to feel winded) will enjoy panoramic views of the city as well as the chance to get up close and personal with some awe-inspiring gargoyles.
While the Civil War resulted in the loss of some of Gaudi’s original plans, these have been reconstructed and in some cases modernized and a series of architects have continued to realize the original aims. Originally, it was thought that construction would last several centuries, but with the advent of computer aided design, the timeline has been speeded up. The current estimate is that the Sagrada Familia will be completed some time within the next two decades, with projected dates ranging from 2026 to 2028.
Marian Jaime writes for Suntransfers. If you are visiting Barcelona, check out their Barcelona airport taxis for a smooth start to your holiday.