Sagrada Familia

Antoni Gaudí's Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia will be finished in 2026

Barcelona, Spain
Kasper Christiansen
Text & photos: Kasper Christiansen
13th of April 2020 (revised version)

La Sagrada Familia is Antoni Gaudí's most impressive and undoubtedly one of Spain's most interesting monuments. Gaudí built on the church over a period of 43 years without being able to see the finished church. Now, the church is finally getting close to being finished, which will happen in 2026. The church will then have 18 towers, representing the 12 apostles, the 4 Evangelists, the Virgin Mary and Jesus, and three facades, each with an entrance. The tower of Christ will rise in the center of the church over the next couple of years and will measure a total of 172,5 meters when it is finished, making the church more than 65 taller than it is now.

La Sagrada Familia is called Barcelona's third cathedral, after the La Seu de la Santa Creu i la Santa Eulalia - Barcelona's only real cathedral where the bishop has his seat - and Santa Maria del Mar, also called the Cathedral of the Sea. Antoni Gaudí and Bocabella, the man behind the association "the Josephines" that starting the project, wanted a unique church telling the story of the Holy Family (Sagrada Familia) as a thematical theme.
The Nativity Facade on Sagrada Familia
The Nativity Facade on La Sagrada Familia

The three facades

The finished church will have three different facades: The Nativity Facade, The passion facade and the facade of Glory. When Gaudí worked on the church he wanted to start construction on the nativity facade. Starting on this facade meant that probability that the church would be finished was higher, he argued. The reason being that this facade is more positive than the Passion Facade.

The nativity facade

The nativity facade tells the story of the birth of Christ. In the very center we see the holy family (in Spanish: La Sagrada Familia): the new-born child (Christ), Mary and Joseph. Together with them are two animals: an ox and a donkey.

On the right side of the holy family, the Three Kings come with gifts to Jesus and on the left side we see the shepherds. Above the holy family there is a choir and we see a total of seven instruments, celebrating the birth of Christ. Further up, there is a green pine tree: this is the tree of life and doves land on the tree.

Sagrada Familia
Details from the Nativity Facade: here we see the main motif, the holy family, in Spanish La Sagrada Familia. Christ has been born, and with him is Saint Mary and Joseph, and Ox and a donkey.

The Passion facade

The Passion facade tell the story of the death of Christ. The story is told like an 'S', from the bottom left to the bottom right, the across the facade towards the superior left corner and towards the center. In the far-left corner, the disciples are gathered with Jesus for the Last Supper.

Further to the right we see Judas and the kiss, and opposite Peter's three denials and the rooster. Then comes the judgement, and Jesus carrying the cross towards Golgata, and at the top the crucifixion.

The facade of Glory

This facade is still to be finished, which will happen over the next year. But the facade will represent the Glory of resurrection. Now, construction work is going on at this part of the church.

When the Glory facade is finished, it will have three porticos with the Christian values faith, hope and charity. Higher there will be letters forming the phrase "I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth". At the very top, there will be a representation of the Final Judgement.

The interior of la Sagrada Familia

The interior of the church is almost finished. Most of this part of the church was finished when the church was consecrated on November 7th, 2010 by the former Pope Benedict XVI . A total of 52 columns support the ceiling.

Sagrada Familia columns, roof and baldachin
Sagrada Familia columns, roof and baldachin

Problems during construction

Sagrada Familia was planned to have a location right in the center of Barcelona. From the church there is the same distance to the sea and the mountains, and the distance from the church to the two rivers towards North - the Besòs River - and south, the Llobregat River, is also the same. However, when the government planned a route for the new Fast Train that will go through Barcelona, they also wanted it to be right in the middle of the city, in order to take the highest amount possible of people.

This means that the fast train is going to pass right under La Sagrada Familia in a tunnel under ground. Many people in Barcelona are afraid that this will threaten the church. But UNESCO have made some measurements showing that the ground under the church and the church itself should be strong enough to support the effects of the train.

Udsigt til Sagrada Familia
Views of Sagrada Familia

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