Barcelona: Wondering at The Sagrada Família

Well we only had one evening at this Hostel in Barcelona so that meant only a few hours locally unfortunately to explore the vicinity. Still though, with a spring in the step we took a wander, black by black, lefts and rights. Only a few minutes away a building appeared that does attract many visitors that come to Barcelona. The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, or for short, la Sagrada Família. The building of this Roman Catholic Church started in 1882.. it is still not anywhere near finished yet, it was time to discover more, a wander round and to find some facts.

DSC_1414_familia Barcelona: Wondering at The Sagrada Família

DSC_1417_familia Barcelona: Wondering at The Sagrada Família

Ok, when I tweeted the live pic when I was stood beside it I gave a wry smile to some of the comments on Twitter, all relevant to the cranes and as yet incompletion. I was going to embed some of your replies here but although mainly harmless jokes and stereotype banter about a certain country’s working style. I would not like to accidentally offend. There are many big reasons the work is only partially done and they have been working hard to bring completion forward by nearly a few hundred years actually. Yes that is not a typo.

P9200468_familia Barcelona: Wondering at The Sagrada Família

DSC_1431_familia Barcelona: Wondering at The Sagrada Família

Let’s go back to the beginning. In 1872 a Catalonian bookseller by the name of Josep Maria Bocabella went to visit the Vataican as founder of the Spiritual Association of Devotees of St. Joseph. Barcelona at this time was felt to be de-christianising. So he wanted to build a church. Work began, on a much simpler design, in 1882. However, in 1883 the original designer resigned and the famous, highly creative and passionate Antoni Gaudí took over……..

DSC_1403_familia Barcelona: Wondering at The Sagrada Família

DSC_1408_familia Barcelona: Wondering at The Sagrada Família

Gaudí was only 31 when he took over but the rest of his life was taken up by it. He changed the style completely and designed a huge building in his intricate modernistic style. He died in 1926 with only about 20% complete. Being a creative improvisor and always adding or changing he didn’t leave much behind to help the continuation. To make matters worse what drawing, notes etc he had left got destroyed in the civil war of 1936, along with some of what had already been built. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that proper work recommenced…..

DSC_1419_familia Barcelona: Wondering at The Sagrada Família

DSC_1409_familia Barcelona: Wondering at The Sagrada Família

Those that have seen it recently would agree with me that you could take the cranes and scaffolding away and it would look now already like a huge and marvellous religious building, quite remarkable and like no other. However even now it is only a small fraction of what it will be when finished, why even the ‘main’ big central tower, that will rise starting near the top of the current built towers is not there yet for a start. For those that have been up to get a view over Barcelona, ‘you ain’t seen nothin yet’, but when will it be finished?…..

DSC_1434_familia Barcelona: Wondering at The Sagrada Família

P9200448_familia Barcelona: Wondering at The Sagrada Família

Well, as these pictures show, and what you see even better with your own eyes, is the absolute fine detail and carvings on what seems to be every inch. The grand arches, the statues, the towers upon towers, the engravings and scenes carved into the stone! Before modern technology the prediction was another few hundred years or so. Computers have helped now with machines that can replicate hand carving. So, the date for completion has been brought forward to 2026, a hundred years after Gaudí’s death. Or in some sources it is 2028, or it may be later. In the word of the man himself….

“My client is in no hurry” – Antonio Gaudí

DSC_1405_familia Barcelona: Wondering at The Sagrada Família

DSC_1420_familia Barcelona: Wondering at The Sagrada Família

So maybe now we can return in 20 years and it will be in all its spendour! That being said, today it is already one of the biggest tourist attractions in Barcelona, it honestly is a remarkable sight to stand by already. The whole circumference is lined with people, necks arched, looking up in wonder. There is no state funding of course too but the thousands and thousands whom pay to go inside help contribute to a speedier complete church. I thought to myself too as I admired from one of the tree-lined parks beside, now that was a little exploratory stroll with a big outcome! The Sagrada Família… Started as a wonder, is a wonder and will be gigantic wonder!

DSC_1407_familia Barcelona: Wondering at The Sagrada Família

DSC_1418_familia Barcelona: Wondering at The Sagrada Família

Written by Paul Steele

Paul is the founder and Editor of the site. An avid hiker and trekker. Travel, adventure and photography are passions that he combines to make his articles here. Likes to see the positive in everything.


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  1. La Sagrada Familia was probably the best cultural experience my husband and I had in Barcelona. Really great pictures, Paul. You’ve really catched many details with the light and all.

  2. Just back from a quick trip to Barcelona and I’ll still trying to get my thoughts together with regard to Sagrada Familia. It’s stunning but wonder rather than asking ‘When will it be finished?’ – “Should it ever be finished?’
    It’s a must see on any trip to the city bit I’d go as early as you can, even when we were there at the beginning of November, you could hardly get near it.

    • It is a really busy spot, yes agree there.. I think it will never be ‘finished’ too

  3. Fantastic Paul, love Gaudi his work is insurmountable ,,, what a great and creative mind! x

  4. Isn’t Sagrada Familia just wonderful? Was just there in June. Hard not to be blown away in its presence.

  5. Barcelona is filled with beauty and you’ve captured Sagrada Familia in all its majesty. Thanks for the view.

  6. Living in Barcelona for some time now, I discover through the comment of a friend your website and your Barcelona wondering… Just great, needless to say that all your photos are more than good too. They are fantastic ! Wish you had more time to discover a little more of Barcelona and Catalunya !!!
    Carry on and have a great 2014

  7. The pictures are just awesome. There are so many details I had never seen before about Sagrada Familia. Thanks for sharing them!

    • Thanks for the kind comment Pau. Yes so much detail isn’t there.. Has to be seen to be believed

  8. Gaudi sure had some mind-blowing ideas, didn’t he! You do kind of wish they’d complete the Sagrada Familia though. All those cranes and construction nets when we visited were a bit distracting… Great photos BTW…

    • Thanks for the comment Joanne. I agree with your thoughts on Barca.. get back soon I hope 🙂

  9. La sagrada familia is not finished yet and it already looks majestic…I’m planning to go to Spain in December and this monument will definitely be on my must see list…Thanks Paul 🙂

      • I will Paul! I also need to see Santa Maria del Mar mentioned by Suzie. I also plan to go to Andalusia to discover some of its hidden beauties and I’ll share the pictures with you.

        Thanks again 🙂

  10. Saw this last week, it’s literally awesome. Fantastic to see. Loved the Santa Maria del Mar too but a big contrast.

    • Hi Suzie,it is awesome isn’t it? The scale of it with the detail. Yes Barcelona is certainly a city of contrasts for sure 🙂

  11. I saw it for the first time last year and I literally shed tears at its beauty. I spent hours taking in the sculptures and still feel like I didn’t give it enough time! I can’t wait to see it one day finished but already it is a beautiful sight to behold!!

    Love your images of it!!

    • Hi Alison, I agree. It is one of those building you just have to see and get the feelings of 🙂 Thanks so much

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