The Sagrada Familia: Gaudi’s Obra Maestra

The Sagrada Familia is perhaps one of the most well-known construction sites in the world, as well as one of the longest running. Intended to be the obra maestra of Antoni Gaudí, his untimely death leaving the construction site nearly 100 years ago launched the church into the epicenter of a battle over how closely to finish Gaudí’s work.

Nature inspired Gaudí as a child, and his grand temple is a testament to his religious devotion and belief that no man can create what God has done upon the Earth. Every detail of the facade and the towers were conceived bearing that in mind, though recent advances in technology have led to a stray away from the original blueprints. The church is slated to be finished in 2026, 100 year after its mastermind’s death.

On my first visit to the Sagrada Familia in 2005, a hangover dampened our plans to make it to the site early, but we lucked out that the hot July day meant that tourists had taken to the water. The line snaked halfway around the block, but the cavernous church provided refuge from the hot sun. It would be five years before the cranes would be removed, the sound of the drills quelled and the makeshift floorboards that served as walkways around a construction site would be replaced with smooth marble floors.

I went a few years later with my grandmother, and not much more work had been done. On my most recent trip to Barcelona, I could marvel in Gaudí works that partially redeem the city for me. While we scoffed at the thought of paying 20€ for the Casa Batlló, devoting an entire morning to the Sagrada Familia and paying the price of entrance and an audio guide was a no-brainer.

I’m not very religious or even very spiritual, but the emptiness and the contrast of colors, mixed with the soaring buttresses, was uplifting. We spent well over 90 minutes before taking the elevator up to the top of one of eight towers.

If you go: The Sagrada Familia is located in the Eixample neighborhood, and metro lines L2 and L5 serve the Antoni Gaudi plaza, making a stop at the station called Sagrada Familia. The basilica, museum and towers are open daily from 9am until 6pm in the winter, and until 8pm in the summer. You’ll be charged 13,50€ for entrance (11,50€ if you’re a student or senior), or 18€ for an audio guide with entrance fee. The towers will run you an extra 4,50€, and you will be assigned a specific time to avoid lines (we were able to sneak in 15 minutes earlier).

Alternately, you can skip lines and receive discounted tickets for all of Barcelona’s big sites via TicketBar by clicking here.

The temple was consecrated in 2010 and mass in now celebrated regularly. Many thanks to Meritxell of Tourism with Me for her help with where to eat nearby. We had a filling Catalan menu at Juanma, located at C/Lepant, 280. If you’re looking for a place to stay, look no further than Barcelona Home for great apartment rentals.

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. In a country of what seems like a million beautiful churches, cathedrals, basilicas…it takes an especially memorable one to stand out. The Sagrada Familia definitely makes an impact! Quite possibly my favorite stop during my visit to Barcelona. Still blows my mind that construction was begun in the late 19th century – seems so modern!
    MeghannG@HolaMatrimony recently posted..El Faro de El PuertoMy Profile

  2. Ashley Campbell says:

    I remember that first visit in 2005! I am glad you have had better experiences with Barcelona since then :)

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I actually wanted to call you, Megan and Erin…Princesa came on and I rocked out!! Miss you and hope you’re well, querida!

  3. I really enjoyed my visit to Sagrada Familia when I went four years ago. I’m assuming more work has been done since then. While it felt a little strange paying to go inside a church under construction, I felt it was worth it. I probably won’t pay the entrance fee to go inside next time I visit though.
    amelie88 recently posted..Public Art: An Ode to the Street Signs of MadridMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Loads more has been done! I’ve now paid three times to go into it (I enjoy Gaudi’s work and don’t mind paying for it’s completion, even though I’m cheap!), and this last run was truly wonderful.

  4. 60 Minutes had a really interesting piece about the Sagrada Familia–it’s available online.
    Nicole recently posted..Tuesday Things – Winter Skin Care EditionMy Profile

  5. That door photographs well. Did the word Jesus really have that accent mark? I will have to check my photos.
    I am not sure if paying extra to go up the tower was money well spent though.
    Somehow I was expecting a bigger Cathedral.
    Can’t imagine how they handled so many people when the pope visited.
    Eduardo@Andaremos recently posted..Brunello di Montalcino – wine in the Tuscany regionMy Profile

  6. I haven’t been to Barcelona since 2006 but the Sagrada Familia stands out in my mind, and I didn’t even go inside! It’s truly an amazing work of art and architecture, which shows in the mere time it’s taking to complete it. Every inch was well throughout and planned exactly how Gaudí wanted it.
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  7. Couldn’t agree more, a truly amazing marvel! I live in Barcelona and still find it simply beautiful!
    Love your blog!

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Why, thank you! I’m flattered! Get in touch any time, or catch up with me on social media. Looking forward to reading your blog!

  8. Thank you for the mention Cat! I am glad you liked Juanma restaurant, it is a great place to eat!

  9. Dear,
    i like the “Jesus”-Photo
    Sagrada Familia
    Its possible to use this in a little film
    for an non profit project, that we support?
    That was great for us.
    Thanks a lot!
    Thanks for a quick response!

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