The Sagrada Familia, officially called ‘The Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia’ is a Catholic basilica in Barcelona, Spain. The construction of Sagrada Familia began in 1882 by architect Francisco Paula de Villar. He designed the church in Gothic style and began with the construction of the crypt in 1882. After his resignation, in 1883 architect Antoni Gaudi took over and transformed it into Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. He worked on it for over 40 years until his death in 1926.
Sagrada Família remained unfinished at Gothic’s death with only less than a quarter of the work completed. This project later continued under the guidance of Domènech Sugranyes and series of other architects. The construction proceeded slowly due to several setbacks like financial crunches, vandalism in 1936 followed by Spanish Civil War. Construction of Sagrada Familia resumed in the late 1950s and estimated to be completed by 2026.
The church, Sagrada Familia has a central nave surrounded by four aisles, forming a Latin cross. The central nave vaults are 45 m (150 ft) in height while the side nave vaults are 30 m (100 ft). The top of the cross is closed by the semi-circular apse. The basilica has three monumental facades, each one representing one of the three crucial events of Christ’s existence: his birth; his Passion, Death and Resurrection; and his present and future Glory.
Nativity Facade : The Nativity Facade of Sagrada Familia was built between 1849 and 1930. This one was dedicated to the birth of Jesus and was the first one to be completed. It is decorated with scenes of elements of life. The facade is placed facing to the northeast of the rising sun symbolizing Christ’s birth.
Passion Facade : The construction of Passion Facade started in 1954 and was carried out according to the instructions documented by Gaudi. This facade was plain and simple with carved lines resembling the bones of a skeleton. It was dedicated to the Passion of Christ, the suffering of Jesus during his crucifixion. The Passion Facade was meant to portray the sins of man.
Glory Facade : The Glory Facade would be the largest and the most outstanding one amongst all the facades. This facade is dedicated to Jesus, which symbolizes the way to God : Death, Final Judgment, and Glory.
Eighteen towers were proposed to be built for Sagrada Familia, out of which eight are built. Twelve of the eighteen towers are proposed to be 100 m high. They represent the twelve Apostales and bears the name and statue of its apostle. The remaining six will be in the centre arranged as a pyramid raised according to their importance. Four would be 135 m high towers representing the four Evangelists and their Gospels and one covering the apse would represent the Virgin Mary. The tallest of all (172.5 m) would be the one representing Jesus Christ.
The Sagrada Familia is one of the tallest religious buildings in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Though the church is incomplete, around 2.8 million visit the place each year.