Sagrada Familia – Architecture – Stained Glass

Sagrada Familia is famous largely due to its Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi and the fact that the church has been under construction since 1882. Sagrada Familia estimated completion date is now 2026 – 2028 if all goes well. The construction/tourist site is the most visited tourist attraction in Barcelona Spain.

Barcelona Sagrada Familia Sanctus - Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi

Sagrada Familia tower with the word Sanctus (Latin for Holy)

Many people purchase their tickets to Sagrada Familia online prior to visiting Barcelona. I like to keep my options open so when I spent 9 days in Barcelona I had a mental list of places that I wanted to visit and decided day-by-day what I would do, depending on the weather or what I was in the mood for. Some people prefer to plan out the itinerary for their entire trip in advance but that would be far too structured travel planning for me.

Construction of Sagrada Familia began in 1882 and continues - stained glass windows

Barcelona – Sagrada Familia stained glass in progress

I knew there would be crowds of people gathered at the entrance as soon as it opened so I planned to get there early and beat the rush of ticket buyers. I arrived about a half hour before the opening time of 9 am and the line was already around the corner and halfway down the block!

Barcelona Sagrada Familia construction is on going since 1882

Barcelona – Sagrada Familia construction continues

When I arrived at the ticket counter I was told I could get in at 9:45 but the Sagrada Familia tower visit would be 3 pm. I said no to that time and she did check the computer again and offered me 10:45 for the tower visit so I bought the ticket. The couple in front of me in line were given an entrance time of 11:45 and 3 pm for their tower visit. I think you fare better being a solo visitor.

View from the tower of Sagrada Familia - architect Antoni Gaudi's most famous work in Barcelona Catalonia Spain

Sagrada Familia view from the tower

Trencadis mosaic at Sagrada Familia in Barcelona Catalonia Spain

Barcelona – Sagrada Familia – trencadis style mosaic

Since I had some time to spare I went across the street for a croissant and coffee of course.

Cappuccino and pastry at Farggi cafe across the street from Sagrada Familia in Barcelona Spain

Cappuccino at Farggi cafe across the street from Sagrada Familia

I was expecting my experience at Sagrada Familia to be similar to the first time I set foot in Hagia Sophia in Istanbul Turkey. Awestruck is what I was expecting. Perhaps that is the source of my dissatisfaction with Sagrada Familia.

Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi's most famous work in Barcelona - Sagrada Familia

Barcelona’s famous Sagrada Familia ceiling

It was a magnificent piece of architecture and there was some beautiful stained glass, not as fabulous as the stained glass dome at Palau de la Musica Catalana mind you. It was on par with Basilica Santa Maria del Mar – which has no line up and is free to visit.

Barcelona - Sagrada Familia pillars

Barcelona – Sagrada Familia pillars

I actually recommend that if you only have a couple of days in Barcelona you should just skip the hype of Sagrada Familia and visit El Born district where you can take in the Museo Picasso, Basilica Santa Maria del Mar, eat some tapa, and do a little shopping in the same amount of time you would spend at Sagrada Familia with the crowds.

Barcelona Sagrada Familia stained glass - Barcelona's most visited tourist attraction is Sagrada Familia

Barcelona Sagrada Familia stained glass

Barcelona Sagrada Familia stained glass

Barcelona Sagrada Familia stained glass

Stained glass windows at Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Stained glass windows at Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

I talked to other tourists who were equally underwhelmed by Sagrada Familia. Others found it to be the most extraordinary place they had ever seen. Thus far Hagia Sophia holds the title of most extraordinary architecture in the world for me. As for Antoni Gaudi’s most famous architecture in Barcelona, I prefer Casa Batllo over Sagrada Familia. I would visit Casa Batllo again but I do not plan another visit to Sagrada Familia…for a few years anyway. After all Sagrada Familia is still under construction so I do plan to see it again – maybe in 2026 or so.

Barcelona - Sagrada Familia trencadis mosaic style was used often by Antoni Gaudi

Barcelona – Sagrada Familia trencadis mosaic

To plan a visit to Sagrada Familia or read up on the history of Barcelona’s most visited tourist attraction click here. And after your visit you can visit the park across the street to watch the parakeets and pigeons.

Barcelona is home to a large population of green parakeets - and of course pigeons

 Barcelona – parakeet and pigeons at the park

A journey through the alphabet with ABC Wednesday Project where people from around the world create and share a weekly post.

About the Author

Susan Moore's first solo travel experience was traveling around SE Asia for 7 months in 1993. It was life changing and extraordinary. Currently Susan is living a nomadic life, working and roadtripping around the USA and Canada. You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter


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  1. Roger Green says:

    always I’ve been a sucker for stained glass. my former and mu=y current churches both have historic stained windows.

  2. Reader Wil says:

    Absolutely beautiful! And so different from all other great cathedrals!
    Have a great week!
    Wil, ABCW Team

  3. ellen b says:

    Susan, sorry about the disappointment with Sagrada Familia but it’s good to get these great tips for people who travel and have limited time to experience and area. Nice to know what to avoid!

  4. Rajesh says:

    That is a mammoth church under construction for long time. That is a lovely bird.

  5. Photo Cache says:

    I visited it in 2009 and there’s less stained glass then. Personally I don’t know what my impression was. Well, I was disappointed because I knew nothing – NADA – about the history of Sagrada and so I was expecting to see ornate marbles and gilded chapels. However after the initial shock wore out, I became fascinated especially when I started to learn about Gaudi.

    Hope to see it when it’s completed. Was in Barcelona last month for the second time, did not go anywhere near it.

  6. Hildred says:

    I do enjoy hearing about your travels, Susan, – wonderful education for a stay-at-home.

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