Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside And Outside

Antoni Gaudi Architecture In Barcelona

Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside and Outside In Barcelona

Plan To Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside And Outside

On the top of our list of things to do in Barcelona was to tour the Sagrada Familia inside and outside.  When we last visited Barcelona, we spent several hours wandering outside of the Sagrada Familia and took in a lot of the interesting building architecture.  But there were cranes everywhere.  And we did not go inside.

So on this trip, we booked in advance to tour this famous UNESCO World Heritage Site including an inside tour.  We were delighted when we learned that the inside was now complete.  And we got such an amazing view of this inside marvel.

Sagrada Familia is the major tourist spot in Barcelona.  It is the basilica of the “Holy Family”.  When initially conceived it was a simple Roman Catholic church. Later on, it was designated as a Cathedral. And on November 7th 2010, Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the Temple and granted it the status of a Minor Basilica.  Mass was held every Sunday morning at 9 am and was conducted in several languages.  The spaces were limited, with entrance on a first-come, first-served basis.

We did not attend a service in the church and enjoy the atmosphere.  But we were delighted to tour this amazing church on our visit to Barcelona.

An Early Start To Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside and Outside

From our hotel in Barcelona, we mapped out the subway route to Sagrada Familia.  We booked an indoor tour for 9:30am and were allowed in when the site opened at 9:00am.  It was great to visit before the crowds grew.  By 10:30 it was a much busier spot.  The sun was just in the right spot this early in the morning and it shined through the stained glass windows.  We watched as colours lit up the inside.

We wandered outside and inside for a short while before we met our tour guide.  Before we visited, we downloaded the app to tour the Sagrada Familia on our own.  Different points around the site were numbered and it was easy to use the audio guide at each spot for more information.  Before we started our tour we had some basic information.  But the tour guide added more context and interesting tidbits touring the Sagrada Familia.

The Architecture Of The Sagrada Familia

The Sagrada Familia was one of the architectural gems of Antonio Gaudi.  In fact, he was even buried in this church.  We learned he was not the original architect in 1882 but took over the project 2 years after its start.  Initial construction was begun by the diocesan architect Francisco de Paula del Villar using neo-Gothic design.  After Gaudi’s death in 1926, the project continued under several new architects over the years.  

The original design included eighteen spires.  The Twelve Apostles were the shortest.  Then came the Virgin Mary and the four Evangelists (Saint Luke, Matthew, John and Mark).  The tallest spire represented Jesus Christ.

Columns - Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside and Outside In Barcelona

While various sections of the overall design were finished, even when we visited in 2022 the outside was not yet completed. In November 2021, the Sagrada Família lifted the star of the Virgin Mary into place.  The final crowning piece will be the completion of the three levels to the tower of Jesus Christ.  This will be the tallest structure in all of Barcelona.

Towers Star of the Virgin Mary.jpg

While the outside structures were still being worked on, the building was much further ahead than on our last visit to Barcelona.  Wars and pandemics continued to delay construction.  But we were delighted that we saw the interior in its final form.

Some of the detailed exterior carvings were done by the Japanese artist Etsuro Sotoo who worked for more than 40 years to complete what Gaudí left unfinished.  When we looked close at several statues, we saw the oriental eyes he left on the carvings.  

Asian Influence.jpg

The Sagrada Familia was one of the works of Antonio Gaudi that were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Tour the Sagrada Familia inside and outside and the architectural design will leave you amazed.

We Started With The Nativity Facade – The Birth Of Christ

The current main entrance to the Sagrada Familia was on the side of the Nativity Facade.  We saw this full side of the church when we exited from the subway.  This side of the church presented an intricately carved facade that told the story of Christ’s birth.  When we looked close we saw the shepherds, wise men and the nativity scene.  

Nativity Facade - Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside and Outside In Barcelona
Nativity Facade - Tour The Sagrada Familia In Barcelona
Nativity Facade - Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside and Outside In Barcelona

The outside carvings on the Nativity Facade were a stunning first sight touring the Sagrada Familia.

Christ Hung Over The Main Altar

The church plan was that of a Latin cross with five aisles. The outer aisles were wide and left lots of room to stand back and admire the interior.

The main altar was on a raised dais with two large organs.  Several times during our visit we heard the organs play.

The centre piece was Christ on a cross hanging under a baldachin (or canopy).  The heptagonal shape represented the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.  It was said to be modelled on the cathedral in Palma de Mallorca.

Main Altar - Tour The Sagrada Familia In Barcelona.jpg
Main Altar - Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside and Outside In Barcelona
Jesus At Main Altar.jpg

Tour the Sagrada Familia and spend some time admiring the main altar.

Stained Glass In Jewel Colours

When we travel we always visited churches and admired the stained glass.  The stained glass on all sides of the Sagrada Familia immediately caught our attention.  The colours were brightly hued and in most cases abstract in design.  

The Nativity Facade showcased yellow, green, and blue glass that symbolized the birth of Christ, poverty, and light. The bolder yellow, orange, and red windows were on the Passion Facade and represented water, light, and resurrection.  

Stained Glass - Tour The Sagrada Familia In Barcelona.jpg
Stained Glass.jpg
Stained Glass - Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside and Outside In Barcelona
Stained Glass - Tour The Sagrada Familia In Barcelona.jpg
Stained Glass.jpg

In churches we visited like Canterbury Cathedral, the stained glass often told complete stories.  We were not really sure if the abstract designs in the stained glass in Sagrada Familia told tales. 

We toured the Sagrada Familia early in the day when the sun was first up. And we got an even more special treat from the stained glass.  The colours shone through and created beautiful patterns on the walls and columns.

Morning Sun Reflection - Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside and Outside In Barcelona

Looking Up In The Sagrada Familia

The inside architecture of the Sagrada Familia was unlike other churches.  The columns were made of red porphyry and basalt and were shaped like tree trunks.  The columns branched out and looked like palm trees reaching to the ceiling.   We felt like we were deep inside the forest rather than in a church in the heart of Barcelona.

Ceiling Design - Tour The Sagrada Familia In Barcelona.jpg

The four columns in the centre of the church honoured the Evangelists. The winged man was Matthew, the winged lion Mark, the winged ox Luke and an eagle was John.

Ceiling Design Desciples.jpg

We found a spot in the pews as we leaned back and admired the details in the ceiling.  In one spot we found a mirror that provided another way to admire the ceiling.  It was yet another beautiful view of the Sagrada Familia as we looked skyward.

Ceiling Design - Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside and Outside In Barcelona

Stairways and Elevators Up

There were several staircases and elevators to go up in the Sagrada Familia for a high viewpoint.  When we visited it was not possible to go up by the stairways.  And it appeared that access by the elevators was limited.  

Stairs and Elevators.jpg

We were told that some limited number of tours provided access up on either the Passion facade or the Nativity facade – but not both.  And you could not take the elevator back down.  Rather you walked down the stairs.  Although we never saw the elevators move or people on the stairs when we visited.

At the top there were narrow walkways and stairs to the tower.  And from there a great view of Barcelona below.

A view from the top was definitely something to plan for a return visit to tour the Sagrada Familia inside and outside.  But we would remember to confirm if the tours were actually bookable! 

The New Entrance On The Glory Facade

The new entrance to the Sagrada Familia will be on the Glory Facade.  This facade represented Christ’s rise to heaven and eternal bliss. 

Even though the doors through the Glory facade were not yet open, we found the inside of this facade easily recognizable.  The beautifully carved door was designed by sculptor Josep Maria Subirachs and had the Lord’s Prayer written on the door in more than 50 languages.

Glory Facade - Tour The Sagrada Familia In Barcelona.jpg

Above the door was a statue of Jesus Christ.  The window above the Christ statue was monochromatic.  A much different glass piece than the other colourful ones.

Glory Facade - Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside and Outside In Barcelona
Glory Facade Glass Window.jpg

When we wandered outside, we went to the side with the Glory Facade.  And nothing was yet very visible outside.  

When completed this facade will have eight columns with spires. The columns will make seven entrances devoted to the seven sacraments and the seven petitions of the Lord’s Prayer.  And even more fascinatingly, the facade will feature illuminated clouds on the columns. They will represent the Holy Trinity: the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.   

It will definitely be worth a return tour of the Sagrada Familia inside and outside when the Glory Facade is finished.

The Stark Passion Facade – The Death Of Christ

We got our first view of the stark Passion Facade on our first visit to the Sagrada Familia.  The side represented the death of Christ.  While very different from the naturalistic style that Gaudi used on the Nativity Facade, this side stark side still followed the drawings and instructions left by Gaudí for future architects and sculptors.

Passion Facade - Tour The Sagrada Familia In Barcelona.jpg

We went outside on our tour and got more insight into this unique side of the church from our guide.  He talked about the central sculptures and the key people shown around Jesus on the cross.  We spent a lot of time studying the interesting details on this facade.

Passion Facade - Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside and Outside In Barcelona
Passion Facade.jpg

Tour the Sagrada Familia and there will be so many different design styles to marvel at.

Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside And Outside And Visit The Museum

We went back inside the Sagrada Familia one last time.  The doors on the Passion Facade drew our attention as we went in.  And the designs on the floor stopped us for a few minutes.

Passion Facade Door - Tour The Sagrada Familia In Barcelona.jpg
Passion Facade Floor.jpg

We saw several interesting exhibits in the sacristy as we walked around.  The ‘Way of the Liturgy’ was an exhibition of pieces Antoni Gaudí designed for the Catholic liturgy. Outside there was a museum that held plans, original sketches, reconstructed models and various other items that provided a glimpse into the creative process behind the stunning design of the Sagrada Familia.

Cloister Exhibit.jpg
Cloister Exhibit.jpg

A Final View From Outside

When we exited at the Passion Facade we found the large Placa de Gaudi Park.  There were several spots for a final view of the amazing Sagrada Familia church.  This gave us such a great perspective of the Passion Facade.

From Placa de Gaudi Park.jpg
From Placa de Gaudi Park - Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside and Outside In Barcelona
From Placa de Gaudi Park - Tour The Sagrada Familia In Barcelona.jpg

We were at the Sagrada Familia for half a day so we needed a break before we headed back to our hotel.  We found a coffee shop with a great view of the church.  How could we pass up one final look?

From Coffee Patio.jpg
From Coffee Patio.jpg

Don’t Miss A Chance To Tour The Sagrada Familia Inside And Outside

On our first visit to Sagrada Familia, we found lots to see as we wandered outside.  And since our last visit, much was completed on the exterior.

But on this visit to Barcelona, we were so glad we planned to tour the Sagrada Familia inside and outside.  And that we booked a tour for the first spot of the day.  It was great to visit the church when it was not packed with visitors.  And when the sun was perfect for a colour display from the stained glass.  Our tour guide added some interesting details that the audio tour alone did not cover.

One day we will return for a final visit when the Sagrada Familia is complete.  And we are sure we will still be amazed by the beauty of this amazing piece by Antoni Gaudi. 

Did you tour the Sagrada Familia inside and outside in Barcelona?  Did you have a favourite spot?

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  1. Wonderful post! We visited the Sagrade Familia a few years ago on a cold winter day. It was before the pandamic, but we were lucky to get a ticket on the spot. I loved the colorful lights filtering through the church interior and could spend a long time just standing there and bathing in that light.

  2. It’s been on my bucket list to see the Sagrada Familia. Your pictures are amazing and I could imagine I’d spend a whole day there marveling at the artwork. Thanks for sharing.

  3. The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is an architectural marvel at its best. The nativity facade, the passion facade and the glory facade represent its beauty from outside. The interior main altar of Christ in raised dais suspended under a canopy is stunning and so is the stained glass windows each conveying a unique message.

    This is something to be captured in a whole day and I would love to visit.

  4. Oh my goodness, it’s so beautiful inside! When I visited years ago, I wasn’t able to go inside but even the outside of La Sagrada Familia is incredible. I’ll have to plan another visit!

  5. I’m so excited to see when the Sagrida familia is complete. I felt in love with architecture and photography after seeing the gaudi buildings in Barcelona when I was a teenager. I have been multiple times since and I love how much it changes each time. Just a spectacular design and building. I love the gothic style carvings.

  6. Happy to know that it is now complete and open. It’s nice that you where able to go inside. We’re planning to Barcelona next year and will definitely include this on our itinerary. It would be nice to see the structures up close. Thank you for sharing this very detailed post. 🙂

  7. Wow! I’ve heard of and seen photos of the Sagrada Familia many times, but never in so much detail. Great photos and description of the familiar outdoor and the inside, which I’ve never seen before.

  8. The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona looks like an amazing architectural gem! The nativity facade looks stunning with such intricate architecture and carvings of shepherds and wise men. Your images are really good. I could easily spend half a day here taking pictures and absorbing the stories behind each piece. I have not been to Barcelona yet, but when I do, I will not miss this.:-)

    • The detail in the design of the Sagrada Familia inside and outside was indeed stunning. Each visit gave us a different perspective. But this time the inside was the real treat. Don’t miss it when you plan a visit to Barcelona.

  9. Sagrada Familia remains one of the most beautiful unfinished buildings I have ever seen. And I dream that one day this tall building will be completed. It’s great that you could see the structures inside and out. I was delighted with it, especially since there was a great light inside. Stained Glass in jewel colors is breathtaking. I could look up these colors and the sunlight playing in the Sagrada Familia for hours. I agree that it is worth taking the tour to learn more about Antoni Gaudi and his piece of art.

    • Each visit adds a little more stunning detail and beauty to the Sagrada Familia. One day we hope to visit again when it is all completed. I am sure a tour will add all kinds of new details at that point.

  10. Ha! I’ve had my mind on wildlife, and when you said you saw cranes everywhere, I thought it was infested with birds, lol! Anyway, I’m glad that the actual cranes were gone the next time and that you were able to go inside. Sagrada Familia seems like a really interesting place — especially if you made time to go back when you were there again.

    • We saw no real cranes 😁 But there were still a few construction cranes around. Still some of the outside under construction. But we were delighted to see the progress since our last visit.

  11. Sagrada Familia looks magnificent from the inside and outside. I didn’t realize that it’s completed by other artists. It’s something that you shouldn’t miss visiting when in the city. Your post help people when making their own itinerary.

  12. When I visited Barcelona, years ago, I only admired Sagrada Familia from the outside as the queue to go inside was too long. It would have been great to know back then that there was a guide to download, to make the outside visit much more interesting. The interior looks fascinating and it’s incredible how much detail is there. The stained windows are so beautiful, especially when you know that they are actually telling a story as well.

  13. The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona looks spectacular with that beautiful stained glass I haven’t been to Barcelona yet, but definitely will add it to my list. I was fortunate to see Notre Dame shortly before the fire. Cathedrals in my humble opinion, are always worth a detour. Thank you for sharing!

  14. The Sagrada Familia is such an ornate and fascinating buidling & worth a trip to Barcelona I think. Thanks for the inspiration & tips!

  15. The Sagrada Familia Barcelona is such an architectural masterpiece! I visited a while ago and by looking at your great pictures, it looks like I missed off some amazing areas. I would love to go back and visit once again and take time to explore all. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Saw the Sagrada Familia earlier this year bit only from the outside. Didn’t go in but wish I had now. Hoping to be back in Barcelona next year and will def do it then!!

  17. Very very intricate details.. it’s like the architect or the one who designed the place is creating every single detail as a love offering to the Lord.

    Every nook and corner seems like an art for every person to adore. I hope to visit this place once I get to Barcelona 🙂

  18. I can’t believe they finally finished (the inside!) My husband lived in Barcelona 20+ years ago and it was still under construction with no end date. I’ll have to tell him the inside is done. Well worth the wait…it looks incredible!

  19. Just like you I should go back and visit again. Because last time I went there were also cranes everywhere I mean it’s still beautiful but the exteriors are magical without the structures and platforms of work. Also the interior looks amazing! A perfect example of organic architecture by master A. Gaudi. Thank you for sharing!

  20. Oh! I haven’t been to La Sagrada Familia in almost 20 years! I would love to see what it looks like now as work continues to progress. This post definitely inspired another trip to Barcelona. Great post.

  21. Spain and Porto is in my list since long. I really would love to visit each and every places in Spain and Porto. Sagrada Familia looks incredible to visit as there are so many things to see inside and outside. Great post with such amazing pictures.

    • I hope you do get to visit Barcelona one day and see the marvellous Sagrada Familia inside and outside for yourself. It was hard to pick just a few pictures for the blog post.

  22. I like you only spent time on the exterior thinking that why would I tour the inside when not done. You’re lucky to return and at a time when the interior is now finished. The stained glass would be so amazing to see, especially on a bright sunny day. I like how you described the details of the arches looking like tree trunks and how they branched out and looked like palm trees reaching to the ceiling.

    • The inside and outside of Sagrada Familia were stunning to view. We spent half a day and could easily have spent more time to take in the detail. All good reasons to visit more than once.

  23. No matter how many times I see La Sagrada Familia, it’s still so impressive! Your photos are wonderful and really capture the intricate detail here. It’s amazing that it will finally be finished after so many years! Very touristy but a must see in Barcelona.

    • It will be amazing to see it finally all completed. But so much had been done since our last visit that it was a real treat to go back. We know we have at least one more visit!

  24. I’ve visited the Sagrada Familia on a trip many years ago. Last time I was in Barcelona, I just visited the outside since these entrance fees in Barcelona are just nuts so that I really chose carefully which landmark to visit. However, it definitely is an outstanding building with a crazy story behind. Let’s see if they really finish it one day – then it will probably lose part of its magic, don’t you think?

    • I agree that the Sagrada Familia may lose some of its magic when it stops transforming. But I do think there is enough detail to keep people visiting a few times to discover something new.

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