The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família is a large Roman Catholic church in Barcelona, designed by Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926). Although incomplete, the church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in November 2010 Pope Benedict XVI consecrated and proclaimed it a minor basilica, as distinct from a cathedral, which must be the seat of a bishop.
Construction of Sagrada Família had commenced in 1882 and 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. Gaudí devoted his last years to the project, and at the time of his death at age 73 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 centenary 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 proposal to build an underground tunnel of Spain's high-speed rail link to France which could disturb its stability.
Describing Sagrada Família, 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."
The church shares its site with the Sagrada Família Schools building, a school originally designed by Gaudí in 1909 for the children of the construction workers. Relocated in 2002 from the eastern corner of the site to the southern corner, the building now houses an exhibition.
The Basilica of the Sagrada Família was the inspiration of a bookseller, Josep Maria Bocabella, founder of Asociación Espiritual de Devotos de San José . After a visit to the Vatican in 1872, Bocabella returned from Italy with the intention of building a church inspired by that at Loreto. The apse crypt of the church, funded by donations, was begun 19 March 1882, on the festival of St Joseph, to the design of the architect Francisco de Paula del Villar, whose plan was for a Gothic revival church of a standard form.
Chief architect Jordi Fauli announced in October 2015 that construction is 70 percent complete and has entered its final phase of raising six immense towers. The towers and most of the church's structure are to be completed in 2026, the centennial of Gaudí's death; decorative elements should be complete by 2030 or 2032. Visitor entrance fees of 15-20 euros ($17–22) finance the annual construction budget of 25 million euros ($28.38 million).
Construction on Sagrada Família is not supported by any government or official church sources. Private patrons funded the initial stages. Money from tickets purchased by tourists is now used to pay for the work, and private donations are accepted through the Friends of the Sagrada Família.