The Historical Church – La Sagrada Familia

Written by Maqsood A. Rahim

The Church

La Sagrada FamiliaThe expiatory church of La Sagrada Familia has since become a sign of identity of Barcelona, Spain. In fact it is promoted by peoples’ will and inspiring religious beliefs. 125 years have passed and construction is still going on at a slow pace and is expected to complete in early 21st century.

La Sagrada Familia is a private expiatory under construction church, dedicated to Holy Family. It is managed by ecclesiastical foundation that controls budgets and building project in accordance with guide lines of Antoni Gaudi.

La Sagrada Familia

The private casual funds generate from donatives admission fee paid by about 3 million visitors every year. They come to appreciate and study the architectural and religious aspects. Gaudi’s works depict symbolic Christianity all over. He displays faith—Jesus and Virgin Mary—The Apostles, Evangelists and Saints in appropriate mode and suggestive symbolizing architecture and carvings around the church interior and in 18 bell towers.


Josep Maria Bocebella Verguer founded the Spiritual Association of Devotees of Saint Joseph in 1866. They decided to construct an expiatory church dedicated to the Holy Family in 1874. Generous donations were received and a plot measuring 12’800 sq. meter was bought in 1881 in the centre of Barcelona city. The foundation stone was laid on 19th March 1882 (on Saint Joseph Feast) by the Bishop of Barcelona. The building initiated with Neo-Gothic design representing crypt beneath the apse by the architect Francisco de Paula Villar. However, early disagreements made him resign and Antoni Gaudi took charge.

Antoni Gaudi was an outstanding figure of Catalan Culture and known in International Architectural circles for creating very lively works and landscapes that appeal to human senses.

Gaudi received an anonymous large donation in around 1890. He then aspired to scrap the present plan and redesign and built a huge monumental structure incorporating better innovations, high towers and sophisticated detailed sculpture formations to explain the teachings of Gospels. In 1882 he laid foundations of Nativity façade, completed the apse façade in 1894 and the Roser door of Nativity Cloister in 1899.

La Sagrada

He also built Temporary schools for children of workers of La Sagrada Familia. Nativity Façade model was displayed in 1910 in Paris at Grand Palais, by Eusebi Guell. The work commenced in 1882 using old means. Gaudi sensed the task difficulties and deviated from traditions. He adopted modern techniques to speed up work and create better quality. He had railway track laid suitable for small wagons for easy transport of materials. Employed cranes and built workshops at site for convenience. He replaced manual tools by electric machines and gadgets for finer workmanship.

2000: The Central Nave Vaults were completed. Work began on Glory Façade foundations. On Millennium occasion, a mass was held inside the church so that the people could view the Grandeur and spread of detailed craftsmanship.

2001: The Passion Façade was completed. Joan Villa Grau installed the stained glass windows, dedicated to the Resurrection. Center of crossing four columns were completed.

2002: International Gaudi year and his 150th birth anniversary were celebrated by Barcelona Council. La Sagrada Familia participated fully by commissioning Temporary schools and holding a show “Night of Light and Fire” on 1st June. Special Illuminations and a memorable Castle of fireworks was the main highlight of this event. The wall of prophets and patriarchs, located in the Passion Façade was completed by Josep Maria.

2005: The Eucharistic symbols of bread and wine sculptured by a Japanese Etsuro Sotoo were placed in Central Nave window. Ascension sculpture was placed between Façade Towers.

2006-8: Glory Façade Choir and apse vaults were completed.

2008-10: The Vaults of apse and crossing are completed so that the Central Lantern Tower could be finished. This Lantern will be crowned by a 170m high cross, dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Four more towers, dedicated to evangelists will surround central tower.

Construction of the main Façade will complete the Church La Sagrada Familia.


About the author

Maqsood A. Rahim


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