The Basílica Expiatòria de la Sagrada Família (Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Sagrada Familia) is one of the most remarkable examples of Catalan ‘modernisme’ (Art Nouveau) and has become a symbol of Barcelona. Undoubtedly it is the unfinished monument that attracts most visitors in the world. Moreover, Antoni Gaudí poured all his efforts and knowledge into the project right up until his death, although he only saw completion of the crypt, the apse and the façade of the Nativity with one of the bell towers. Together, these areas were declared World Heritage Site in 2005.
Construction of the Sagrada Familia began in 1882 with the crypt located under the apse, according to a preliminary neo-Gothic design. When the commission was handed over to Gaudí, he completely changed the design and adapted the project to his naturalist ideals. One of the treasures of the crypt is the Roman-style mosaics on the floor. Another feature that cannot be missed is the framed altarpiece dedicated to the Holy Family by the sculptor Josep Llimona. And it is precisely in this intimate and mystic setting that Antoni Gaudí is buried, specifically in the chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Once the crypt and apse were finished, Gaudí started on a more ambitious and complex project based on detailed symbolism and great formal construction innovations based on the parabolic arch. This led to the Nativity façade. According to Gaudí: "If instead of creating this decorated, ornate and bombastic façade, I had begun with the Passion, hard, bare and bone-like; people would have expressed disapproval". Thus he turned the façade into a detailed stone book relating the episodes of Jesus’s childhood.
After Gaudí’s death, the building went through decades of slow evolution. With the revival of interest in the work of Gaudí, the number of visitors has greatly increased in recent years and construction work on the temple has advanced quickly, following the models and notes left by the master. The interior of the nave of the church is a new attraction and it is hoped that in 2026 the building of Gaudí’s dreams will be completed.
- The basilica offers tours and activities directed at children so that they can enjoy heritage with the whole family.
- Using educational materials, students in different academic years gain an in-depth knowledge of Gaudí and the Sagrada Familia Basilica.
- The Sagrada Familia runs a social-educational programme that promotes the participation of third sector projects.