La Sagrada Familia was not a name we had heard of before arriving in Barcelona. Nor was Antoni Gaudí. But we’ve been, we’ve seen and oh, how we loved what we discovered! But is La Sagrada Familia worth visiting? Today we share La Sagrada Familia facts, tips and tricks to help you get the most from your visit!

la Sagrada Familia facts

La Sagrada Familia cannot be dismissed in just a paragraph of a “what have we been up to” type post, nor can I put it aside and write about it later; as an absolute highlight of our travels so far, it deserves a post of its own, NOW! If the words on this page can portray even a fraction of how this building made us feel while we visited, I will consider this blog post a success.

So here is our La Sagrada Familia review – I’ll blow the punchline now – if you come to Barcelona, IT IS AN ABSOLUTE MUST SEE!!!

La Sagrada Familia is a stunning masterpiece!

La Sagrada Familia Facts

La Sagrada Familia is a large Roman Catholic church, found in the heart of Barcelona, which began its journey almost 134 years ago (and remains incomplete today).

The church was the vision of Spanish Bookseller Josep Maria Bocabella, who returned from a visit to the Vatican City with the desire to build a church. In 1882, under the direction of Architect Francisco de Paula del Villar, work began in the crypt area of the church. Not 12 months on, however, Villar resigned from the project after heated disagreements between himself and another Architect consulting on the job.

So in 1883, a man who’s own Professor had dubbed him “either a fool or a genius”, took over the project and made radical changes.

Antoni Gaudí – a fool or a genius?

La Sagrada Familia Facts

la Sagrada Familia factsAntoni Gaudí i Cornet, (1852-1926), was a Spanish Catalan Architect. Inspired by nature and religion, his work features beautiful sweeping lines and curved edges and completely avoids sharp lines and corners. Such shapes are not found in nature and as such, all of Gaudí’s works have a unique style. As you can imagine this makes for some incredibly unusual architecture and some stunning, unique buildings.

Known as having been a unique character – reserved and isolated, Gaudí did things in his way. He struggled in class while studying at both Llotja School and the Barcelona Higher School of Architecture, found it difficult to make the necessary grades, and on occasions failed his classes. But in 1878 he graduated and on handing him his degree, the director of Barcelona Architecture School, said: “We have given this academic title either to a fool or a genius. Time will show.”

History indeed shows the later to be true!

Watch out for the workmen!

La Sagrada Familia Facts

Just one week after our visit, la Sagrada Familia celebrates it’s 134th year anniversary of the commencement of construction… and yet, it is a LONG way from completion. Gaudí worked on the project for some 43 years, and at the time of his death, only 15-25% of the project was finished. Gaudí himself estimated the project would take 200 years to complete!

la Sagrada Familia factsDue to this, la Sagrada Familia is in a constant state of construction, and while the building itself is spectacular, throughout our visit there was no hiding from the construction, massive cranes, a huge quantity of scaffolding and large areas of blank walls awaiting further work. I can only imagine how this place will look completed.

la Sagrada Familia facts

Completed works (tan) v’s yet to be completed (white)!

At his death, Gaudí left detailed notes, and models of his vision of the church, and work has continued steadily since, with a major disruptionin 1936 during the Spanish Civil War. A large portion of the models and Gaudí ‘s workshop were severely damaged – with much of his work lost. The building we see today are based on reconstructed plans, compiled by a joint collaboration between Spain, New Zealand and Deakin University in AUSTRALIA! (We were a little excited to see that link to home!)

Getting through the front door could take you an hour!

La Sagrada Familia Facts

The eastern entrance to la Sagrada Familia, the cornerstone of Gaudí’s work before his death, is incredible. The spectacular detail, in ever part of the entrance, is a testament to the time that Gaudí spent on it.

la Sagrada Familia facts

The Nativity Facade: the only work completed by Gaudí before his death in 1926.

Known as the Nativity Facade, this portion of la Sagrada Familia is dedicated to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and the level of detail is spectacular. In fact, as the perfectionist he was, Gaudí was known to have pulled people off the street to model for each sculpture – with participants spending many, many hours posing, or indeed being subject to a full casting to capture every last detail.

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The largest central door is dedicated to the birth of Jesus. A smaller entrance to the right is dedicated to Mary while the one to the left features Joseph, who Gaudí felt didn’t get as much recognition as he deserved.

la Sagrada Familia facts

The large central door is dominated by statues of the birth of Jesus

Upon arriving at la Sagrada Familia, as we walked the steps to behold this grand entrance, we were overwhelmed by the detail. In fact, we discovered that it is easy to get completely lost in the myriad of characters, and the more one looks, the more one discovers.

la Sagrada Familia facts

The detail of Mary’s door, the right-hand entrance.

Stained glass windows have never looked so good!

La Sagrada Familia Facts

As we walked into the church, we were struck by a brilliant light, streaming through the side walls of the church. Shades of yellow, orange and red on one wall, with blues, greens and purples on another, flooded the room and created a gorgeous rainbow of colour on those that entered.

la Sagrada Familia facts

Walls of stained glass windows towered above us.

la Sagrada Familia facts


The sheer size of these windows was impressive enough, but the play of light on the floor below was simply striking. The ceiling above the windows, highlighted with even more colour, looked like wisps of coloured cloud swirling above our heads, and one couldn’t help but be completely overwhelmed.


A panorama of the interior – click to enlarge!

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Beware of neck injuries!

La Sagrada Familia Facts

Seriously, when you walk inside la Sagrada Familia, you cannot help but drop your head backwards and stare upwards. The view is impressive!

la Sagrada Familia facts

The forest of columns!

la Sagrada Familia facts

Gaudi’s love of nature is evident in this design – as you stare upwards, you quickly realise that what might ordinarily be just massive columns supporting the building above, has been designed as tree trunks, stretching upwards and branching apart to create a canopy above our heads.

Watch out below!

La Sagrada Familia Facts

A lovely surprise as we toured the church was the original part of the building that was created pre-Gaudi, the Crypt.  As we wandered around the massive interior, we realised that below our feet lay even more! The style is entirely different (being that of another Architect), but is a hidden surprise that we were not expecting.

la Sagrada Familia facts

Brody enjoying listening to an audio tour, peering down into the Crypt below.

la Sagrada Familia facts

The huge crypt area, hidden below our feet.

A harsh exit!

La Sagrada Familia Facts

Given that Gaudi died some 90 years ago, the Western entrance/exit has been completed by a new Architect, which has resulted in a very different look and feel. The Passion Facade was inspired by plans left by Gaudi, however, the details he left were somewhat limited, as he did not want to limit the imagination of the future Architect.

la Sagrada Familia facts

The Passion Facade – cold, harsh and rough.

la Sagrada Familia facts

A popular place!

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In contrast to the highly decorative Nativity Facade, the Passion Facade is rough, harsh and cold, inspired by the death of Jesus. It deliberately faces the setting sun, symbolic of the death of Christ.

While the feel of this side is completely different, it is, nonetheless spectacular!


Buyer beware!

La Sagrada Familia Facts

If you are planning a visit to la Sagrada Familia, there are a couple of things to be aware of.

Firstly, unless you love waiting in lines for long periods of time, you MUST buy your la Sagrada Familia tickets before you arrive. La Sagrada Familia is incredibly popular which equates to lots of people wanting to enter! I can’t imagine the disappointment some may face, arriving at the church, only to discover the need to wait in line for an hour or more.

Secondly, visiting la Sagrada Familia with an audio guide is a must! Now purchasing an audio guide with your tickets will sting you €7 ($AUD10.50/$USD7.78) PER PERSON! With 4 of us along, and no discount for children, this quickly adds up, however in researching we discovered an awesome audio guide hack!


Why didn’t we think of this sooner! We have enjoyed audio guides at nearly every tourist destination we have visited, but they do come at a cost. But in visiting la Sagrada Familia, we found an awesome guide for only €3 ($AUD4.5/$USD3.33) – which we put on both iPhones and both iPads – saving us a fortune!

Simply search for la Sagrada Familia Audio Guide to find the most recent – there are quite a few available!


So what did we think?

Clearly… we loved it! Such a completely unique building, so unlike anything we have seen in the past. We are not a religious family, nor to we have any particular love of architecture, but this building attracts all types – and for good reason.

If you are ever in Barcelona, this needs to be at the very top of your list. Not only is this visit about a stunning building, but an extraordinary man, that proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he was not a fool, but a genius that deserved is degree!

Until next time…





Have you been? What did you think?

Tell us in the comments below!

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