Sagrada Familia Exterior with Street Sign
Barcelona, Destinations, Europe, Spain, Travel

Sagrada Familia: The Church That is Too Big For Pictures

A long long time ago, I went on a trip to Europe. September 2013 to be exact. Now that it’s 2015, it’s time to start sharing some of my experiences! Today, I’m starting out with one of the last stops on my trip – Barcelona, Spain where I toured the Sagrada Familia.

Sagrada Familia a Church Too Big for Pictures

If you ever go to Barcelona, Spain and you only get to pick one thing to do, visiting the Sagrada Familia should be that thing. Full stop.

I’m not even sure where to begin when talking about Sagrada Familia, because its history is just as fascinating as its architecture. Since I can’t even begin to figure out how to weave the facts together, here’s a bulleted list:

  • Construction began in 1882
  • Designed by Antoni Gaudí, a renowned architect
  • Gaudí focused on the church from 1883 through 1926, at the time of his death, when the church was only 25% of its way to completion
  • Sagrada Familia, along with Gaudí’s other works of architecture, is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Construction of the building won’t be completed until 2026

Let me let that last fact soak in. Sagrada Familia is not yet finished. It won’t be finished UNTIL 2026!

Outside Looking In

When you visit Sagrada Familia, you will be overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed. And every picture you try to take will inevitably not be able to fit everything into the frame.

Front Sculptures on Sagrada Familia

Here is a view of one of the three themed-façades that are planning. The Passion façade, which you see here, depicts the stations of the cross. The Nativity façade is on the other side of the building and the last, the Glory façade, is not yet completed.

Front of Sagrada Familia

Exterior of Sagrada Familia

Another view of the Passion façade.

Exterior of Back of Sagrada Familia

If you look closely here, you can see parts of the Nativity façade. This view also shows the bell towers, which you can go up to tour.

To the Top of the Tower

If you’ll remember my trip to Toronto a few years ago, Richard and I enjoy going to the top of the highest point in whatever city we are visiting. In the case of Toronto, we hit up the CN Tower. In Paris, we hit up the Eiffel Tower. In Barcelona, we went up one of the bell towers of the Sagrada Familia.

View of Barcelona from Sagrada Familia Tower

As you make your way up the tower, you get to see some amazing views of Barcelona.

Colorful Towers on Sagrada Familia

One of my favorite things about Sagrada Familia is the dash of color that is incorporated in certain aspects of the building.  Here you can see the tops of the lower spires, which are said to represent the Eucharist.

Nicole in Sagrada Familia Tower Looking Over Barcelona

Of course, I had to take the obligatory “me in front of the city” picture on my way to the top.

View of Barcelona from Sagrada Familia

Another view of Barcelona. Look at those mountains!

Stairs in Sagrada Familia Tower

Eventually, there came a time where we had to descend. We couldn’t stay in the tower forever. And thus, the trek down the winding, dizzying stairs began. If you go to Sagrada Familia and go up the tower, just don’t think about falling down these stairs.

Finally to the Bottom of the Sagrada Familia Tower

Eventually, we made it to the bottom. And it was time to explore more good stuff!

Inside the Sagrada Familia

I already thought the Sagrada Familia was ridiculous. Large. Magnificent. Complex. Intricate. Then I went inside. And, of course, those feelings were amplified.

Stained Glass Windows in Sagrada Familia

When you are inside, everything is bright. Light comes through the intricate stained glass windows and bounces off of the white pillars.

View of Sagrada Familia Altar

As you would expect it to be, the altar is unique.

Inside Sagrada Familia Looking Up

Walking inside Sagrada Familia feels like walking in a forest, as Gaudí intended.

View of Sagrada Familia's stained glass windows

The nearly white columns provide a beautiful canvas for the stained glass windows to case their reflections.

Just the Beginning

As I mentioned at the top: SAGRADA FAMILIA. WON’T. BE. FINISHED. UNTIL. 2026. What! If you’re interested in what the building will look like when it’s done, check out this 2026 We Build Tomorrow video.

The Verdict

Exterior of Sagrada Familia


5 stars of 5

5 of 5 Stars: I think that you could probably go to Sagrada Familia every single day for the rest of your life and uncover something new every single one of those days. We didn’t have a lot of time to explore Barcelona, but I’m glad that this was on of the things that made it onto our itinerary. Next time I go to Barcelona, I will definitely be going back.

Time Needed


3 to 5 Hours: Expect that a trip to Sagrada Familia will take you approximately three to five hours. This includes time waiting for tickets (we waited about 45 minutes, but I believe the lines can get much longer depending on when you go), going up the tower, exploring the exterior and interior, and checking out the small museum that is attached to the Sagrada Familia. If you want to cut down wait time, you can also purchase tickets ahead of time.


free to 2 dollar signs

The cost to visit Sagrada Familia depends on what you want to do. For the most up to date ticket information, check out the Sagrada Familia website.

We opted to purchase tickets for access to the church, access to the towers and the audio guide – our cost was around 24€. As a comparison, if you only want to visit the church, it costs 15€. If you want to visit the church and the towers, but have no audio guide, the cost is 19.50€. For us, the audio guide was well worth it! It was a great complement to the experience and pointed out background and information about all of the major points of interest inside and outside of the church.

So, what do you think? Ready to go and visit Sagrada Familia for yourself?

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