Architecture

Facts about La Sagrada Familia

22 facts about La Sagrada Familia

Under construction for over 100 years

Sagrada Familia is the pride of Barcelona and an expression of the genius of its creator - Antonio Gaudi. Although its construction has been going on for 139 years, we still have to wait for its completion. Anyway, its creator planned its construction for many years, communicating that his client is in no hurry because he is eternal.

This amazing structure attracts over 3 million tourists every year, making it the most visited tourist attraction in Spain. When construction is completed in 2026, and the tower of Jesus is built, Sagrada Familia will become the tallest church in the world.

1
The Sagrada Familia - Holy Family Church is a Catholic church with the status of a minor basilica.
It is located in Barcelona, a city in northeastern Spain, the second largest in the country.
2
The basilica is considered to be Antoni Gaudi's significant architectural achievement.
Antoni Gaudi was a Catalan architect and engineer of Art Nouveau (a direction in architecture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries), famous for his exceptional designs. A turning point in Gaudi's artistic life was meeting with the Barcelona industrialist Eusebi Güell, with whom the architect became friends. Güell greatly appreciated Gaudi's art and financed many of his projects. Gaudi created many buildings for him, including a hunting pavilion and a church. He also did commissions for the church and, in total, did about 20 major projects, mainly in and around Barcelona.
3
Gaudi's style was very sculptural and Art Nouveau, striving for a stylistic unity by combining different fields of art, especially craftsmanship, interior architecture, sculpture and graphics.
In his architectural work, he used parabolic arches, fantastic forms and intricate patterns, and organic shapes seen in nature. He often referred to the fluidity of the underwater world, which is why today, he is considered a precursor of biomorphic architecture.
4
With the experience he gained, Gaudi began to experiment more with his designs.
He used the equilibrium rule of the catenary, creating a spatial model of a building and testing the forces of gravity on it. He tested the strength of different materials, such as basalt and granite and experimented with lighting - for a better effect, he used mirrors or photographs to design. To decorate surfaces, Gaudi used the Catalan style of trencadis mosaic. His most mature works come from this period: Colonia Guell, Casa Mila or Sagrada Familia.
5
The construction of the temple began in 1882.
The idea to build a church in this place goes back to 1866 when the founders of the Spiritual Society of St. Joseph started a campaign to build a temple dedicated to the Holy Family. After 15 years, thanks to donations, an amount was raised to purchase a plot of land. The cornerstone was laid on St. Joseph's Day, March 19, 1882. The church project was commissioned to the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar, who, however, could not come to an agreement with the association and resigned after a year. His place was taken by Antonio Gaudi.
6
Gaudi began work on the church in 1883.
Thirty-one-year-old Gaudi presented a completely new design of the building. It assumed building a church without external arches and buttresses, with an enlarged central tower 172.5 meters high. The church was to be devoted to Jesus Christ. As mystical-religious references were of great importance in Gaudi's work, he prepared a complex iconographic program.
7
Gaudi repeatedly changed the temple's design, which over time became more and more visionary, both in innovative technological and architectural solutions and the associated symbolism.
Both the architecture and ornamentation of the facades and interior of the Sagrada Familia are saturated with Christian symbolism. This church, through its size and architectural splendor, was to refer to the most significant Gothic cathedrals.
8
The temple is built on the plan of a cross.

It contains three facades: The Nativity, the Passion, and the Glory, each of which is a different style. It has 18 towers that symbolize the 12 apostles, the four evangelists, Christ and the Virgin Mary.

The dimensions are governed by proportions based on the number 7.5, which is the base dimension. The length of the nave is the most important in this five-nave church (as in other churches). In this case, it is 90 m (7.5 x 12), where 12 symbolizes the apostles. The height of the main nave is 45 m (7.5 x 6). The transept (transverse nave) is 60 m long (7.5 x 8 or 5 x 12) and 30 m wide (7.5 x 4). The apse is 75 m (7.5 x 10) high.

9
Gaudi's architecture is based on the geometry of complex curves, including the elliptical paraboloid.
It consists of two planes of symmetry having a single axis. Their number and infinity may symbolize the Holy Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
10
The Sagrada Familia has three facades.

They take their names from the portals adorning them that are closely related to the gospels, and their moodiness alludes to the three main literary types. 

  • Nativity façade - (the only one largely completed during Gaudi's lifetime) has a lyrical, joyful character related to the birth of Jesus.
  • Passion façade - has the poignancy and bleakness of drama.
  • Glory façade - has epic overtones.