The Basilica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Familia, commonly known as the Sagrada Familia, is a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi (1852–1926). Although incomplete, the church is an UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 was consecrated and proclaimed a minor basilica by Pope Benedict X VI.
Though construction of Sagrada Família had commenced in 1882, Gaudí became involved in 1883, taking over the project and transforming it with his architectural and engineering style—combining Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. Gaudi devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death in 1926, less than a quarter of the project was complete.
Sagrada Família’s construction progressed slowly, as it relied on private donations and was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War—only to resume intermittent progress in the 1950s. Construction passed the midpoint in 2010 with some of the project’s greatest challenges remaining and an anticipated completion date of 2026—the centennial of Gaudí’s death. The basílica has a long history of dividing the citizens of Barcelona—over the initial possibility it might compete with Barcelona’s cathedral, over Gaudí’s design itself, over the possibility that work after Gaudí’s death disregarded his design, and the recent possibility that an underground tunnel of Spain’s high-speed train could disturb its stability.
Describing Sagrada Familia, art critic Rainer Zerbst said “it is probably impossible to find a church building anything like it in the entire history of art” and Paul Goldberger called it ‘the most extraordinary personal interpretation of Gothic architecture since the Middle Ages.