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10 interesting facts about the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain.

Updated on April 13, 2013
La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain.
La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. | Source
The original model of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia as designed by Antoni Gaudi.
The original model of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia as designed by Antoni Gaudi. | Source
Antoni Gaudi, designer of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain.
Antoni Gaudi, designer of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. | Source

One of the most interesting and beautiful sights in Barcelona, Spain is the basilica, the Sagrada Familia. It has been under construction going into it's third century and is a sight to behold in Barcelona.

It is in the middle of downtown Barcelona and is surrounded by other buildings, but its spires rise so high into the sky that it can be seen from almost anywhere in the surrounding area of Barcelona.

It is often described as a 'decorated frosting of a cake' because of its intricate design and beautiful decorations and sculptures on the facade of the Basilica. But, the inside is just as beautiful and decorative.

Here are ten interesting facts about this beautiful and ongoing construction of the basilica:

1. The full name is: Basilica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia. When construction began it began as a simple Roman Catholic Church in Barcelona, Spain in the region of Catalonia. It then was changed to become a cathedral and about five years ago, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated it as a Basilica, a seat for popes.

2. The Basilica was the original inspiration of a Catalan bookseller, Josep Maria Bocabella. Bocabella made a pilgrimage to Rome to visit the Vatican and returned from his journey with the intention of building a church inspired by the one in Loreto. He began raising funds in Barcelona to build the church. The construction of the church began in 1882 and it is still under construction today.

3. The present design of the basilica is by Antoni Gaudi, one of Spain's famous modern architects. When he took over in 1883, he radically changed the design of the Basilica. Gaudi's design is a combination of Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudi died in 1926 at the age of seventy-six and less than a quarter of the Basilica was completed at that point. It is slated to be completed by 2026, the centennial anniversary of Gaudi's death. The Basilica has been described as "the most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages."

4. It has had several architects since Gaudi's death, but since 1940 the architects have been Francesc Quintana, Isidre Puig Boada, Lluis Bonet i Gari, and Francesc Cardoner. They are continuing to follow Gaudi's plan and model.

5. Sculptures both inside and outside are by J. Busquets, Etsuro Sotoo and Josep Subirachs and they are responsible for decorating the facades of the Basilica.

6. Inside, the central nave vaulting was completed in 2000. The basic inside plan is that of the Latin cross with five aisles. The transept has three aisles.

7. Today, computer-aided design is being used to hasten the construction of the Basilica.

8. The style today, originally designed by Gaudi is most like Spanish late Gothic, Catalan Modernism and Art Nouveau.

9. The original design of the Basilica calls for eighteen spires. Each spire will represent in descending order of height the twelve apostles, four evangelists, the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ. By 2010, eight spires have been built so far. The four apostles at the Nativity facade and four apostles at the Passion facade.

10. The finished Basilica is to have three grand facades. The Nativity facade faces the east. It represents the birth of Christ. It is the most ornate and the first one completed. The Passion facade faces the west and is austere, plain, and simple. It depicts the crucifixion of Christ. The Glory facade faces the south and is the longest and most striking of the three facades. This is the principal facade and the main access to the central nave. It represents the road to God.

Although there is much to see in Barcelona, just a trip to view the Sagrada Familia is a treat. It can take days to discover all that is there to see, especially with the intricate and ornate designs on the outside of the building, let alone on the inside. See the photos below of the Basilica in construction.

Nativity facade of the Basilica.
Nativity facade of the Basilica. | Source
Passion facade of the Basilica.
Passion facade of the Basilica. | Source
Glory facade of the Basilica.
Glory facade of the Basilica. | Source
Inside ceiling of the nave of the Basilica.
Inside ceiling of the nave of the Basilica. | Source


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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      We visited Spain for the summer Olympics many years ago. While staying on the Island of Mallorca we were shuttled back and forth for Olympic events to Barcelona by airplane. We also did some touring of Barcelona. The Sagrada Familia is an amazing building! It should definitely be on the top of people's lists for those visiting Barcelona.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      3 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      When we first saw the Basilica, we were astounded trying to decipher what Gaudi wants to convey. Recently, in Dan Brown's book, Origin, the basilica is featured. Quite interesting.

    • Glenis Rix profile image

      Glen Rix 

      4 years ago from UK

      Nice hub. I visited the Sagrada Familia about ten years ago .It was fascinating to see a cathedral during the early stages of wok, when stonemasons were still chipping away inside. And Iloved the modernist figures on the outside of the building. Must return soon. Thanks for the memories.

    • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzette Walker 

      5 years ago from Taos, NM

      aesta: Thank you so much for reading this and I am glad you enjoyed it. It is one of my favorites too. I wonder when it will ever be finished, it is so intricate.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      It is an amazing basilica, one of my favourites.

    • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzette Walker 

      8 years ago from Taos, NM

      Thanks Eddy: I really love Spain and just about everything in it. I have spend much time there and it is almost home away from home. Thanks so much for reading this and for your comments.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      8 years ago from Wales

      A brilliant read and thank you so much for sharing.


    • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzette Walker 

      8 years ago from Taos, NM

      Thank you Lesley. I'm glad you enjoyed this and thank you so much for the visit. This is an incredible building, isn't it? Your comments are most appreciated.

    • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzette Walker 

      8 years ago from Taos, NM

      Vinaya: As they say, 'someday' . . . I think you will see some of these places. I had to work hard and save money to do all this traveling and studying overseas and it was worth it. I taught high school English in Germany and was able to travel all over the continent. Then, I offered tours of Spain to my students when I taught Spanish and spent many a summer there. I'm so glad you enjoyed reading this. Add this to your list of places I'm sure you will get to one day!

    • suzettenaples profile imageAUTHOR

      Suzette Walker 

      8 years ago from Taos, NM

      bdegiulio: You will love Barcelona. It is my favorite city in Spain after Madrid. I just love the energy and creativity of the city. There are other Gaudi buildings and architecture by him, but this tops everything I think I've ever seen in

      Europe. I'd love to be there in 2026 when it is completed. I'm sure the dedication will be something. Thanks so much for your visit and I'm glad you enjoyed this.

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hello suzette, I was fortunate to visit Barcelona just for a day a few years back.

      The architecture is amazing and the Basilica, the Sagrada Familia is an incredible sight.

      A very interesting and informative hub, enjoyed this very much thank you and voted up.

      Best wishes Lesley

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 

      8 years ago from Nepal

      I was introduced to Spain when I was a fifth grader, in geography and history class. However, I have never been near to Spain. I wish I could be on the place you describe.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 

      8 years ago from Massachusetts

      Suzette, I have wantd to visit Barcelona for a while now and this will come in very handy when we get there. What an amazing piece of architecture. Isure they be quite the celebration when it's finally compelted. Thanks so much for sharing this.


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