• Discover the History of the Sagrada Familia

  • 1881

    The land where the Sagrada Familia is to be built is bought

    The money to buy the land and build the Sagrada Familia is raised from donations. It is an expiatory temple meaning it has been built solely on the base of donations from the beginning until now.

  • 1882

    The first stone is laid and work on the crypt begins

    Work was promoted by the Association of Devotees of Saint Joseph, primarily made up of shopkeepers, wage earners and common people. This is why it is sometimes known as the poor man’s cathedral.

  • 1883

    Antoni Gaudí is contracted to continue the works

    The architect Francisco de Pauls del Villar, who one year earlier had offered to work on the Sagrada Familia for free resigns after disagreeing with the promoters.

    Gaudí, 31 at the time and without much work took over the works thanks to the recommendation of one of his teachers, Joan Martorell. Many were shocked by the choice of an inexperienced youngster with ties to agnostic and republican circles being given control.

  • 1885

    The First Mass is celebrated in the crypt of the Sagrada Familia

  • 1889

    Work on the crypt finishes and starts on the Apse

    Thanks to a generous anonymous donation, Gaudi decides to radically change the original neo-gothic plans of Francisco de Paula del Villar for something more innovative and monumental.

  • 1892

    Work begins on the Nativity Façade

    Traditionally construction work is carried out horizontally but Gaudí decided to build whole sections of the temple independently. This enabled him to see this façade completed and inspire future generations to continue with the construction.

    The decoration of this façade includes a great number of popular elements and more than 40 different species of animal. Gaudí chose to start with this façade because he thought it would be more attractive to the public.

  • 1894

    The Apse is completed

  • 1899

    Sculptures are placed on the Nativity Façade

    Gaudí personally designed many of the sculptures of the Sagrada Familia, using people off the street as his models he took photos and plaster moulds which he later used to create the statues.

  • 1910

    Donations dry up

    During this decade the Sagrada Familia project was on the cusp of failure due to a lack of finances. Gaudí renounced his salary and went out into the street to ask for donations so that the workers could be paid and work on the temple could continue. From then on Gaudí dedicated himself solely to the Sagrada Familia.

  • 1925

    St Bernard Bell Tower is completed

    At 100m high, this is the only bell tower Gaudí saw completed. During the year the architect moved into a studio in the grounds of the Sagrada Familia so that he could control the works more.

  • 1926

    Gaudí is run over by a tram and dies

    Gaudí was run over at the cross roads of Bailén and Gran Via. He died three days later on the 10th of June at the age of 74. His remains were placed in the Carmen Chapel of the Sagrada Familia, where they remain today. Chronicles of the time reported that the funeral was attended by thousands and that the balconies around the Sagrada Familia were draped in black as a sign of mourning.

    His assistant Domènec Sugrañes takes over construction.

  • 1930

    The Four towers of the Nativity Façade are completed

    Each one of them has a 400 step spiral staircase inside.

  • 1936

    Anticlerical groups desecrate the temple

    In July 1936 revolutionary anticlerical groups set fire to the crypt of the Sagrada Familia, destroying the models and original plans of Gaudí. The tomb of Josep Maria Bocabella, founder of the temple was also profaned. The incident took place two days after the uprising which gave rise to the Spanish Civil war.

  • 1939

    Work on the Sagrada Familia begins again

    Architects Francesc de Paula Quintana, Isidre Puig Boada and Lluis Bonet Garí were chosen to continue the construction of the Sagrada Familia whilst remaining faithful to Gaudi’s original design.

  • 1954

    Construction begins on the Passion Façade

    This façade represents the pain, suffering and death of Jesus along the twelve Stations of the Cross. For this reason it is the most austere of all the façades.

  • 1977

    The Four bell towers of the Passion Façade are completed

    When it is finished the Sagrada Familia will have a total of 18 towers. They will represent the 12 apostles, the 4 evangelists, the Virgin Mary and Jesus. Gaudí got his inspiration for the towers from Montserrat Mountain.

    The tower of Jesus Christ will stand 170m tall and be the highest in the city. Currently the tallest buildings in Barcelona are the Hotel Arts and Mapfre Tower, both 154m tall.

  • 1978

    Construction begins on the Nave walls

  • 1990

    The first statues are placed on the Passion Façade

    Designed by Josep Maria Subirachs, the sculptures represent the Twelve Stations of the Cross. Behind the statue of the Kiss of Judas hides a cryptogram of 16 numbers. Adding up the numbers in any direction always gives the same result, 33, Jesus’ age when he died.

  • 2000

    The Central Nave and Transept are finished

    The columns in the interior represent a forest, branching out and entwining under the vaulted ceiling. Each one of them represents an apostle or one of the churches of the world.

  • 2002

    Work begins on the Glory Façade

    The Glory Façade will be the main entrance to the temple and also the biggest and most monumental of all.

  • 2003

    Work on the Cloisters of Mercè is completed

    The Cloisters of Mercè encircle the church to separate the temple from the exterior. Its total length is 240 metres.

  • 2005

    World Heritage Site

    The Sagrada Familia together with three other buildings designed by Gaudí are declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

  • 2010

    Consecration of the Temple as a Basilica

    During this year work on the interior was completed and Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the temple as a Basilica.

  • 2013

    Barcelona’s most emblematic monument

    Today the Sagrada Familia receives more than 3 million visitors annually. It has become a symbol which has appeared in numerous novels, films and animated series as well as being the inspiration for various conceptual albums.

  • 2026

    Sagrada Familia is completed

    It is estimated that work on the Sagrada Familia will be completed in 2026, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of Gaudí’s death.