All you must know about Antoni Gaudí’s temple
Barcelona is on top of world tourism. The charming capital of Catalonia, in Spain, has beaten the record of 12 million tourists in 2019. It is only behind London and Paris in the number of tourists in Europe. More than 75% of these visitors are from out of Spain, mostly from France, Germany, Italy, the UK, and the United States.
What makes Barcelona so attractive is a wide variety of attractions: history, culture, arts, museums, gastronomy, beaches and even mountains, all in one single place with a well-connected network of public transportation. Amongst so many interesting attractions, there is one big favorite and the most-crowded to visit: Basilica La Sagrada Familia, an unparalleled monument in architecture’s history and a Unesco World Heritage site.
La Sagrada Familia is Barcelona’s precious Modernist jewel. The city’s most visited attraction is an astonishing creation by architect Antoni Gaudí and is the biggest exponent of the so-called “Catalan Modernism”. Its construction started in 1882, stopped for the Spanish Civil War, and is still on-going. La Sagrada Familia, a Catholic temple, will be the tallest church in the world when finished, which is expected to happen in 2026 (at Gaudí’s 100-year death anniversary).
It comprises the central nave, three façades (Nativity, Passion, and Glory), 18 spires (8 are already finished), crypt, museum, and some other areas. Nothing, absolutely nothing, at La Sagrada Familia is ordinary. It is a breathtaking monument and, for us, the most impressive temple in the world.
How many tourists visit La Sagrada Familia each year?
The Basilica is easily reachable as it’s in a very centric area (Eixample Dreta). It is at a walking distance to the other famous Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces (La Pedrera and Casa Battló) at Passeig de Gràcia, Barcelona’s chic boulevard.
In 2017 La Sagrada Familia had 4,5 million paying visitors, according to Barcelona’s official tourism authority. Other 13,5 million got to the temple’s doors, took their pictures and turned away. Some of the main blockers for getting there and not getting in are the huge lines and crowded spaces.
How to skip the line at La Sagrada Familia?
The key to skipping the line is on the internet. Old are the days when the only access to the temple was through tickets bought there, in person. Not anymore! There are a bunch of tickets available nowadays that allow you to save time and energy for what really matters: the beauty of the church’s interiors and exteriors.
- Buy a fast-track ticket to La Sagrada Familia
This is the best-seller ticket to the Basilica. It includes the entry to the temple, entry to the museum, a free Barcelona city guide and an audio guide (a recommended resource as La Sagrada Familia is a very complex monument). This ticket doesn’t include entry to the towers. And finally, there’s no need to print the ticket as you can save it in your smartphone.
Price: from 22.10€ (there are discounts available) and free for children under 11
Where to buy: here.
- Buy a fast-track ticket to La Sagrada Familia and 1 of the Towers
This ticket is similar to the previous one, but it does include access to 1 of the 2 towers of the temple.
Price: from 33.10€ (discounts available) and free for children under 11
Where to buy: here.
- Buy a fast-track ticket to La Sagrada Familia with a guided-tour
If you are the kind of traveler that enjoys knowing everything and a bit more of the monument you are visiting, so a guided-tour may be the best option for you. This ticket allows you to skip the line, gives access to the temple’s museum and includes the invaluable support of an official guide. The guided-tour lasts one and a half hour in English, Spanish, German or French. It doesn’t include access to the towers though.
Price: from 42€ (discounts available)
Where to buy: here.
Can I attend a mass inside La Sagrada Familia?
Yes, anyone, of any faith, can attend a mass inside La Sagrada Familia, and more. The temple has 2 kinds of religious celebrations: the international masses and special ones.
Every Sunday and on holy days there is an international mass at La Sagrada Familia at 9 am. It is in an area separate from the touristic visit and is free of charge. The mass is celebrated in 5 languages: Catalan, Spanish, Italian, English, and French. Besides, there are priests available for confessions. The doors are open at 8:30 am and entrance is made on the Nativity façade (Marina street). Groups are allowed but if they are bigger than 25 people, the temple should be informed.
The other kind of celebration is extraordinary masses or events. It’s not open to everyone, and attendance is by invitation only. However, these masses are often streamed live.
Curious facts about La Sagrada Familia
The temple is the culmination of Antoni Gaudí’s genius. It synthesizes his architectural evolution and offers an amazing challenge to the curious visitor as there are a lot of details in each part of the temple. Check these out:
- If you choose to go up the Nativity towers, you’ll have a view of the city’s mountains.
- If you choose the Passion towers, you’ll have a view of the Mediterranean sea.
- The tallest of the 18 spires will be the one dedicated to Jesus Christ: 172,5 meters. It is the majestic central one.
- The project wasn’t originally delivered to Gaudí. Its first architect was Francesc de Paula Villar. Due to disagreements with the City Council, the project ended up in Gaudí’s hands.
- Gaudí knew he wouldn’t be alive to see the end of the construction. He left detailed documentation for it to be finished after his death.
- Gaudí spent his last 15 years fully dedicated to the temple, even living there. His death was on duty. He was run over by a tram while observing the temple and fully absorbed by his work.
- In his last years, Gaudí, who was a man of great faith, simply didn’t care about his appearance. When he was run over by the tram, his poor looks made him unrecognizable by the accident’s witnesses. It took a while for people to realize that that poor “vagabond” was the respected genius.
- In the temple’s interiors, there isn’t one single straight line. All the design honors the richness of nature’s shapes.
- The Nativity façade was the only one finished when Gaudí was still alive.
Practical information about the visit to La Sagrada Familia
How the visit works: when you buy your fast-track ticket online, you have a time window of 15 minutes to enter the temple at the time of your choice (i.e. 12h-12:15). Once inside, forget the outside world for at least one and a half hour.
Opening times: Every day from 9 am to 8 pm (April-September); 9 am to 7 pm (October and March); 9 am to 6 pm (November to February):
When La Sagrada Familia is closed: it is partially closed on December 25th and 26th, and January 1st and 6th, when entrance is over at 2 pm.
Best moment to visit in an ordinary day: after 3 pm
Last entrance permitted: 30 minutes before closing
When to buy your Sagrada Familia ticket: at least the day before. Don’t leave it to buy at the last minute. You’ll run out of tickets for sure.
Not to forget: it is a religious temple. Go dressed accordingly.