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Interesting Sagrada Familia Facts That Will Make You Want to Visit Barcelona

The Sagrada Familia is a Catholic church that is a must-see before you depart on a cruise from Barcelona. Before you start thinking that if you’ve seen one cathedral in Europe you’ve seen them all and that you’d rather use your time in Barcelona to taste tapas, know this: the Sagrada Familia is truly like no other church in Europe, or the world. It looks like something from a gothic fairytale and the sheer size of it will astound you. And that’s before you step inside it and see its incredible ceiling.

Not only is Sagrada Familia visually striking to behold, it also has a rich history with some interesting trivia. Here are some Sagrada Familia facts that will get you even more intrigued to see this famous Barcelona landmark.

Sagrada Familia Fact #1: Its Famous Architect is Buried There

The mind behind the intricate design of Sagrada Familia was Antoni Gaudi. Spend time in Barcelona and you’ll be hard pressed to leave the city without learning more about Spain’s most famous architect. Not only did Gaudi design Sagrada Familia, he also designed many of Barcelona’s most famous buildings, most of which are historical landmarks today that are open to the public to tour. Antoni Gaudi created the design for Sagrada Familia in 1914 (after taking over from the first architect hired for the job and completely revamping the design) and was very involved with its construction in the beginning, but would never see it completed. Gaudi died in 1926 after being hit by a tram. He is buried in a crypt located within the cathedral.

Sagrada Familia Fact #2: It’s Still Not Finished

One of the most interesting Sagrada Familia facts is that the church is still a work in progress.

Gaudi would have to be over 160 years old today to see the Sagrada Familia in its current state…which still isn’t finished! A plan to finish the cathedral in Gaudi’s vision has been underway ever since with multiple starts and stops along the way. The current estimated completion year is 2026, in time for the centennial of Gaudi’s death.

Sagrada Familia Fact #3: It is Rich with Religious Symbolism

Sagrada Familia is designed with numerous religious symbols – which probably comes as no surprise for a Catholic church. An easy one to notice are the 18 towers, which signify the 12 apostles, the four Gospels, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus Christ. The tallest tower is the one representing Jesus Christ and it reaches 560 feet, making it the highest point on the church and just shorter than Barcelona’s highest point of land: Montjuic. Gaudi did this purposefully as he didn’t believe anything created by man should be higher than something created by God.

The details of the Sagrada Familia are also astounding in their attention to the stories of the Bible. The exterior of the building features three main facades with sculptures and carvings that cover main events in Christianity: the birth of Jesus; the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus; and the present and future glory of Jesus.

The name of the cathedral itself is religious since Sagrada Familia means Holy Family in Spanish.

Sagrada Familia Fact #4: The Design Incorporates Elements of Nature

Part of what makes the architectural design so mesmerizing, besides its gothic and otherworldly aspects, are the nature components that are weaved into the design. A prominent way this was done is inside, where you’ll look up and see an elaborate sunburst design with columns reminiscent of tree trunks and branches supporting the vaulted ceiling. Outside, the Glory façade was strategically located so the midday sun would shine right onto it. As the Glory façade is right over the main entrance, this will illuminate the entrance due to the way it was constructed.

There are many other ways Gaudi used nature elements and the way the sun rises and sets to enhance the ambiance of the cathedral; a shore excursion with an expert guide is a great way to hear the stories behind the design.

Sagrada Familia Fact #5: You Can Go Up to the Top of a Tower

It’s well worth it to buy a ticket to see inside the Sagrada Familia since the way the interior of the church is designed to incorporate light and color is a sight to behold. There is also an additional ticket you can purchase that lets you take an elevator up to one of two tours for views of the city (though you have to go down via stairs).

Sagrada Familia Fact #6: It Didn’t Have a Building Permit Until Recently

Construction has been done on the Sagrada Familia for over a century, but there was never actually a permit in place for work done in the modern era. Recently, the trustees of the church and the city of Barcelona worked out a deal to get the proper permits needed if the church pays $41 million in back fines over the next decade. This isn’t the city being greedy, though. Millions of people visit the Sagrada Familia each year, and to ensure Barcelona can continue to cater to these people without it impacting the city infrastructure, those fines will be used to create public transportation, access points, and redevelopment of the surrounding neighborhoods to enhance the visitor experience as well as local life.

Sagrada Familia Fact #7: It is the Top Tourist Attraction in Barcelona

It is estimated that around three million people visit the Sagrada Familia every year, making it the city’s top tourist attraction. This is a pretty incredible feat for something that isn’t even finished yet!

When visiting Barcelona on a cruise with us, we make it easy for you to see Sagrada Familia by offering several different shore excursions in Barcelona that visit Sagrada Familia on guided tours.

Book Your Mediterranean Cruise and Learn Other Sagrada Familia Facts

If you also want to be one of the people who get to see the Sagrada Familia with your own eyes, book your Mediterranean cruise vacation on an itinerary that lets you experience the wonders of the church and learn all about the top Sagrada Familia facts firsthand.

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