Why is Sagrada Família not finished yet? That was my question when planning my first trip to Barcelona a few years ago. It’s so fascinating that although unfinished, it’s one of the most famous buildings in the world and is already recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This unique building was designed by one of the best Spanish architects of all time – Antoni Gaudí. Keep reading to learn more about that fascinating building and why is Sagrada Família not finished.

Why is Sagrada Família not finished yet?

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Sagrada Família is one of the most beautiful churches in the world, attracting around 4.5 million visitors yearly. Although unfinished, it was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 and consecrated in 2010. It is expected Sagrada Família will be finished in 2026. In the right moment to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Antoni Gaudí’s death.

One of the reasons for such a long construction and why is Sagrada Família still being finished lies in the fact it was entirely funded from private donations. It’s a church built by the people for people. Another reason is that, during the Spanish Civil War in 1936, a fire broke out in a workshop at the church where Gaudí’s drawings were. Since the majority of them were lost, it took the team of architects sixteen years to restore Gaudí’s design. They were only able to continue the construction after that long pause.

The church is located in one of the most beautiful areas of Barcelona – in the Eixample neighbourhood. It’s where some other famous Gaudí buildings like Casa Milà or Casa Batlló are located.

TIP: If you’re looking for an area to stay in Barcelona, consider the Eixample neighbourhood. I stayed there each time when I visited that city. It’s close to the city centre, filled with exciting sites, numerous small shops and charming little restaurants. It’s also home to so many beautiful residential buildings, a walk around the area is a treat in itself.

Read more: Exploring Gaudí’s architecture in Barcelona

Sagrada Família architecture

Sagrada Família’s construction started more than 140 years ago, in 1882. After its first architect resigned, Gaudí was appointed as the new Sagrada Família lead architect a year later. His first move was to change the project significantly.

The style of the church is so unique you can’t see any geometry or recognise classical architectural elements. It belongs to its own world in which Gothic pillars became trees, stained windows rays of colours and statues on the facade, characters from the SF movie. Gaudí created a magical world reflecting his image of the divine.

The church is an extraordinary example of a unique Gaudí style. It has three main facades, of which only two are finished: the Nativity and the Passion facade. The church decoration contains a lot of symbolism, from turtles and chameleons to the Tree of Life.

With its usage of coloured glass, its interior is equally fascinating. When inside Sagrada Família, I felt like visiting a modern Gothic cathedral. Standing in its interior felt equally divine as it must have felt for the medieval pilgrims visiting some of those fascinating sites. One side of the church is covered with green-blue, while another has orange-red windows. All the pillars look like trees, with branches forming a ceiling.

Sagrada Família was Gaudí’s leading project, and he entirely devoted the last eleven years of his life to it. The church is still being constructed according to its architect’s original plans. Gaudí was buried in the church’s crypt to make a tribute to him.

Read more: 20 Most iconic churches in Europe

Visiting Sagrada Família

I visited Sagrada Família in Barcelona a couple of times. The first time I saw it, I was utterly overwhelmed by its architecture and the play of lights in its interior. However, the second time I visited, I joined a guided tour to learn more about that fascinating building. And it’s something I recommend doing while visiting that fantastic place.

The Sagrada Família tour lasted for around one hour. During it, we learned about Gaudí’s unique design, architectural details, symbolism, and so many fascinating stories about that building.

We also visited the Sagrada Família Museum, where we watched a movie about the building’s construction. You can also see models of the parts of the church. Gaudí never used drawings for his buildings – instead, he used building models.

Gaudí also organised a school on site for children of construction workers in 1909. He wanted to provide for their whole families with this project. It’s fascinating to think about that from today’s point of view when the construction costs are cutting short all the time. You can still see the location of the old school and even the reconstruction of the classroom at the Sagrada Família Museum.

Here is the tour I joined at Sagrada Família in case you’d like to visit it, too.

Read more: Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya highlights

Although Sagrada Família still needs to be finished, it’s undoubtedly one of the most fascinating buildings in the world. It’s so interesting visiting it during the years of its construction and seeing new parts being built each time. I can’t wait to see it in full glory when Sagrada Família is finished.

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Cover photo by Louisa Schaad on Unsplash