Combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms, the Templo Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia aka the Expiatory Temple of the Sacred Family aka the Sagrada Familia is a Roman Catholic Church — and UNESCO World Heritage Site — in the heart of Barcelona, Spain.
What makes this church so special you ask?
Designed by the incredibly creative Antoni Gaudi, who designed many of the city's most popular attractions, construction on this church began in 1882 and HAS YET TO BE COMPLETED. It has been an ongoing construction project for well over 130 years!
Why is it taking so long?
There are a few reasons:
1. Its construction is entirely funded by donations (as opposed to government or Vatican funding). This worked in the 1800s when the majority of the population believed that a donation would guarantee them a place in heaven, but as the city’s culture changed, so too did the donation amounts.
2. In 1926, when only a quarter of the project was completed, Gaudi was run over by the city’s No 30 tram when he was crossing the street that ran in front of the church and died. (What are the odds?!)
3. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, revolutionaries set fire to the Sagrada Familia crypt (where Gaudi’s remains had been buried), and the workshop destroying the original plans, drawings, and photographs. Some of the scale plaster models were also smashed.
Despite all of these setbacks, construction on the church has NEVER stopped. It has slowed, but teams of architects, designers, and artists have kept the project going.
An influx of tourists, along with modern masonry techniques, has seen work speed up considerably over the past two decades.
Construction passed midpoint in 2010, but not without controversy: Salvador Dali once argued that it should be left unfinished as a monument to Gaudi; others think it has not been completed “authentically enough,” and an underground tunnel for Spain’s high-speed train could potentially disturb its stability.
The head architect announced last year that this emblematic church finally has a completion date — 2026 (to mark the centennial of Gaudi’s death)... or 2028.
Sagrada Familia Visitor Information
Opening Hours: Nov to Feb 9 am to 6 pm; Mar & Oct 9 am to 7 pm; Apr to Sep 9 am to 8 pm
Admission: 15 Euros