Sagrada Familia Tickets La Basilica de la Sagrada Familia explained
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Sagrada Familia History

The story of the Sagrada Familia begins with the devotion and philanthropy of one man. Barcelona, in the midst of the Industrial Revolution, was enjoying an unprecedented economic boom. Josep María Bocabella y Verdaguer, a printer, and bookseller devoted himself to the cult of Saint Joseph. With the idea of promoting the values of the Christian family, in 1866 he conceived the idea of building a Catholic church dedicated to the Holy Family, La Sagrada Familia.


To achieve this, Josep María Bocabella founded the Association of Devotees of St. Joseph, which had up to 600,000 members, as well as the magazine "El propagador de la devoción a San José". Thanks to the donations received and the sale of the magazine, in 1881 he was able to buy the land on which the church was to be built for 172,000 pesetas (1,000 euros).


What does Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, mean?

Its name translates as Temple Expiatori of the Holy Family and is explained as follows:

  • The work of an expiatory temple is financed exclusively through alms.
  • The Holy Family is the name given to the family formed by Jesus of Nazareth and his parents, Mary and Joseph in the Catholic religion. The Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, and Jesus are sculpted on the facade of the Nativity.

A crazy idea, a land, an association, funds... The work begins in 1882 with the initial project of the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano. Despite the laying of the first stone on March 19, 1882, this neo-Gothic style church project did not seduce. Villar was replaced by a young 31-year-old architect, Antoni Gaudí i Cornet.


Antoni Gaudí - 1878


This young man with an extraordinary creative imagination proposed a radically innovative project for the time. The construction of a temple of naturalist-modernist tendency, formed by five naves, three facades, and eighteen towers, twelve of which symbolize the apostles, four for the Evangelists, one, the highest, in the center, to symbolize Jesus Christ and one for the Virgin Mary crowned with a twelve-pointed star at a height of 138 meters, inaugurated on Wednesday, December 8, 2021. This is the latest event, 139 years after the beginning of the construction.


The main stages in the history of the construction of the Sagrada Família

1883: Antoni Gaudí resumed the construction project of the Temple while continuing to work on other buildings in Barcelona, including his first building, the precursor of Catalan modernism: La Casa Vicens.


1885: Inauguration of the Chapel of Saint Joseph in the crypt.


1891: Work begins on the facade of the Nativity.



La Sagrada Familia in 1905

La Sagrada Familia in 1905 - Barcelona



1914: A turning point in Antoni Gaudí's life, he began to work exclusively on the Temple until his death 12 years later.


1925: Completion of the bell tower of Saint Barnabas of the facade of the Nativity.


The Sagrada Familia as Gaudí was able to see it before his death.


1926: Gaudí died at the age of seventy-three, hit by a streetcar. His disciple Domènec Sugranyes took over the project.


La Sagrada Familia in 1930 by Walter Mittelholzer



1936: The Sagrada Família is sacked during the Spanish Civil War. The revolutionaries destroy the workshop. Plans and photographs are burned, the plaster models are broken. Nevertheless, the construction can continue thanks to the few documents that survived the event.


1939: Francesc de Paula Quintana took over the management of the building site, which was able to continue thanks to the material saved from Gaudí's workshop and reconstructed from the published plans and photographs.


1952: Construction of the staircase of the Nativity façade and the first lighting of the façade.


1954: Laying of the foundation stone of the Passion façade.


The Nativity facade of the Sagrada Familia  in 1957



1958: On March 19, the feast day of St. Joseph, a group of sculptures by Jaume Busquets representing the Holy Family was installed.
A museum is opened to visitors to explain the historical, technical, artistic and symbolic aspects of the Temple.


1966: Francesc de Paula Quintana dies. The architects Isidre Puig i Boada and Lluís Bonet i Garí take over.


1977: Completion of the bell towers of the Passion facade.


Pinnacles of the towers of the Passion façade.


1978: The construction of the facades of the side naves begins.


1983: The architect Francesc Cardoner i Blanch takes over the project.


1985: Jordi Bonet i Armengol is appointed chief architect and site manager.


1986: Josep Maria Subirachs was commissioned to create the sculpture groups of the Passion facade.

Foundation of all the naves, columns, vaults and facades of the main nave, transepts, crossing and apse.


2005: The facade and the crypt of the Nativity are classified as World Heritage by UNESCO. The work continues according to the plans of Antoni Gaudí.


2010: On November 7, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI consecrates the basilica to religious worship and designates it as a minor basilica.


2012: Jordi Faulí succeeds Jordi Bonet as chief architect and director of the Sagrada Família temple works.


2016: The construction of the towers of the Evangelists, the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ began.


2018: A cross is placed on top of the pediment of the Passion facade.


2019: The Jesus Christ tower, the Evangelists tower and the Virgin Mary tower begin to take shape.


2020: The Jesus Christ tower and the Virgin Mary tower exceed the height of the Passion and Nativity facade towers.


2021: Inauguration on Wednesday, December 8, 2021 of the tower of the Virgin Mary with the installation at 138 meters high of a twelve-pointed star that is illuminated every evening from 6 to 10 pm.


Video : The tower of the Virgin Mary in 2021



2026: Date expected to finish the construction of la Sagrada Família Basilica and the anniversary of the centenary of the death of Gaudí. But this was without counting on the Covid-19 pandemic that delays the works since 2020.


The two men behind the most visited monument in Spain, Josep María Bocabella and Antoni Gaudí, were buried in the crypt of the Sagrada Família.

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