Walk in Gaudí’s footsteps by visiting his breathtaking temple, an impressive labor of love that started in the late 19th century and is still ongoing today.
La Sagrada Familia occupies several town blocks along the Carrer Mallorca. While local architect Antoni Gaudí did not start the build, nor saw it finished, his influence on the modernist basilica was so great that it’s often called Gaudí’s temple. Admire his life’s work, then explore the nearby streets and parklands and visit his former home.
Although the first stone of El Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia was laid in 1882, the grand edifice is only about three-quarters complete. It was Gaudí who turned the original neo-Gothic design into a modernist marvel. When he died in 1926, he had overseen the construction for 43 years. He was buried in the chapel of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in the basilica’s crypt.
Stroll through the two adjacent parks first to see the spires of the central towers take shape from below. At ground level, notice how each façade is vastly different. Having only seen the intricately carved Nativity Façade to near-completion, Gaudí left detailed plans for the façade of Glory, along with instructions for the central nave, the 12 towers and sacristy.
Inside, take a seat on one of the long wooden benches to let the sheer size and ethereal beauty of the temple sink in. Notice how the natural light streams in through the spectacular stained-glass windows. The basilica will house 14,000 people all at once when it’s finished.
After your visit, grab some sweet churros from the nearby Gaudí Bakery. For an introduction to modern-day Barça passion, pay a visit to FCBotiga, the merchandise store of FC Barcelona with a museum for soccer fans.
Walk along Gaudí Avenue to see another awe-inspiring modernist building, Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau. It’s an art nouveau gem. Tour the L’Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau with its colorful Moorish-style pavilions and patio gardens.
From there it’s a half-hour walk to Park Güell, which offers bird’s-eye views of La Sagrada Familia. Enjoy the Gaudí Experiència, an interactive 4-D movie about Spanish modernist architecture in the museum under the hill. Head uphill to see Gaudí’s colorful mosaic benches and fountains and visit the Gaudí House Museum, where the artist used to live.