History of the Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia

Construction started in 1882 and, 133 years later in 2015, one of Barcelona’s most iconic venues remains unfinished. The Sagrada Familia (translated: Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family) is a large Catholic church in Barcelona, which opened for worship in 2008. This amazing landmark was deisgned by Catalan architect, Antoni Gaudi and became an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984.

Pullmantur can take you on a wonderful all inclusive cruise around the Mediterranean and Iberian Coast, allowing you to visit everything the Catalonian city of Barcelona has to offer – including the Sagrada Familia.


The Sagrada Familia was originally designed by Josep Maria Bocabella, who was inspired to build a church after visiting the Vatican in 1872. Designs were initially made for a Gothic revival church and construction began under architect Francisco de Paula del Villar in 1882. However, he passed away in 1893 and Gaudi assumed responsibility for the design of the construction, which he changed significantly.

Intricate design has had a part to play in the construction of the basilica, although it has not been the sole cause. Speaking on the construction of his grand project, Gaudi is thought to have stated: “My client is not in a hurry” and God has been waiting ever since. In fact many have stated that it should take generations to finish rather than be rushed for a deadline. Catalan poet, Joan Maragall stated: “The Sagrada Familia is… the reflection of the soul of the people. Woe the day that it is halted!” Catalan painter, Salvador Dali stated: “It would be a betrayal to even think of finishing the Sagrada Familia… without genius. Let it remain there like a huge rotting tooth.”

Gaudi passed away in 1926, when the basilica was thought to be only between 15-25% completed. The work was then passed down to Domenec Sugranes I Gras, before construction was halted by the Spanish Civil War in 1936. Sadly, many of the original designs were destroyed in fires during the war and the designs of today are based on reconstructions. A handful of architects have participated in its construction since the 1940’s and, in the 1980’s, computers were introduced in the designs by Jordi Bonet i Armengol. Today, Mark Burry of New Zealand is the Executive Architect and Researcher.

Sagrada Familia


The Basilica opened for service in 2010 after the installation of a large organ and the church was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI in November 2010. Eighteen spires have been planned for construction and, at present, eight of them have already been built. The intention is for the spires to represent the 12 apostles, Virgin Mary, four Evangelists and, tallest of all, Jesus Christ.

Tourist numbers have been visiting the Sagrada Familia in higher numbers in recent years, but many are concerned it may be rushed to suit the needs of a tourist deadline. The aim is for it to be finished in 2026, 150 years after work began. New masonry techniques and computer aided design have helped to speed up the work and, as of 2013, the Sagrada Familia was 65% completed.

Whatever your opinions may be on this colossal landmark, there is no denying that it has confounded critics. It has defied historical events, anarchists and the handover to different architects across the last 139 years. Both the exterior and interior encapsulate the spirit and imagination put into the thought process being this immense piece of work.

This is just one of the many exciting landmarks you can visit with Pullmantur Cruises. A wide range of cruise itineraries will allow you to travel around Europe, visiting an array of iconic sites in regions such as the Mediterranean, Iberia and the Baltics. Wherever you decide to travel, you are guaranteed total relaxation with contemporary surroundings, a comfortable setting and an excellent all inclusive package.

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