The Expiatory Temple of the Sagrada Familia (in Catalan Temple Expiatori of the Sagrada Família), known simply as the Sagrada Familia, is a Catholic basilica in Barcelona (Spain), designed by the architect Antoni Gaudí. Started in 1882, it is still under construction (September 2015). It is the masterpiece of Gaudí, and the greatest exponent of Catalan modernist architecture. According to data from 2011, it is the most visited monument in Spain, with 3.2 million visitors, followed by the Prado Museum (2.9 million) and the Alhambra in Granada (2.3).
The construction began in neo-Gothic style, but, when taking over the Gaudí project in 1883, it was completely reconsidered. According to his usual procedure, based on general sketches of the building, he improvised the construction as he went along. Gaudí took over the project with only 31 years. He dedicated the rest of his life, the last fifteen exclusively.
One of his most innovative ideas was the design of the high conical towers that protrude above the portals, and that narrow with the height. The projected with a parabolic torsion, which gives an upward trend to the entire facade, favored by many windows that pierce the tower following spiral shapes.
The temple, when it is finished, will have 18 towers: four on each of the three facades and, as domes, there will be a system of six towers, with the central tower -dedicated to Jesus- of 170 meters high , another four around it, dedicated to the evangelists, and a second dome dedicated to the Virgin. Both the exterior and the interior are resolved with an original construction system based on regulated geometry.
In 1926, when Gaudí died, only one tower had been built. Only plans and a model in plaster were preserved from the building project, which was very damaged during the Civil War. However, since then the works have continued without interruption: the portals of the Nativity and the Passion are now finished, and the one of La Gloria has begun; all the interior space has been covered, and the foundations of the six central towers have been laid.
The work carried out by Gaudí, that is, the facade of the Nativity and the crypt, was included in 2005 by UNESCO in the World Heritage Site «Works by Antoni Gaudí». The temple was consecrated and declared a minor basilica on November 7, 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI.