Spain’s Sagrada Família Finally Has a Completion Date

The iconic Barcelona church is set to be completed during the 100-year anniversary of the death of its esteemed architect, Antoni Gaudí.

The Sagrada Família church rising up behind some trees in Barcelona with cranes and construction scaffolding on the church

It’s hard to even imagine a Sagrada Família without the towering cranes of ongoing construction.


More than 140 years after construction started, the Sagrada Família church in Barcelona, one of the world’s most popular tourist landmarks and complex architectural projects, has a new completion date: 2026.

This spring, the organization behind the decades-long effort to finish the masterpiece by celebrated Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí announced that the final phase of the seemingly never-ending project is expected to be finished two years from now. Fittingly, that coincides with the centenary of the death of Gaudí, who died in 1926 after he was hit by a tram while crossing the street in Barcelona.

“Barring any setbacks, the tower of Jesus Christ will be completed in 2026,” the cathedral announced on X, referring to the approximately 566-foot-tall central tower dedicated to Jesus Christ. When finished, the tower will feature a 56-foot, four-armed cross, according to the cathedral. Upon completion, the Roman Catholic structure will be the tallest church in the world, topping Ulm Minster in Ulm, a town in southern Germany.

A challenging construction process

Construction on the Sagrada Família began in 1882, largely based on Gaudí’s vision of a Roman Catholic church featuring 18 gargantuan towers, each symbolizing a different biblical figure.

However, from the start the project has faced a multitude of challenges that have slowed or outright halted progress, from the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s to a lack of funding. In addition, it was discovered in 2016 that a building permit had never been issued, a situation described by a city official as a “historical anomaly” that was corrected in 2019 after 137 years of construction work done illegally.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, work was stopped again for two years. However, the surge of tourism following the pandemic has provided the funds to hopefully push the project past the finish line. According to the basilica’s 2023 Annual Report, 4.7 million people visited in 2023, with tickets costing between approximately $28 and $43 each. That accounts for about $135 million, half of which goes toward completing the work, The Guardian reported.

The colorful stained-glass windows of the Sagrada Família church, seen with light shining through them

If you want to beat the crowds, visit the Sagrada Família during the winter months, when the light shining through the stained-glass windows inside the basilica is just as beautiful as during the more popular summer season.


A surge in visitors is expected

Even with completion still a ways off, Barcelona’s tourism industry is already gearing up for an uptick in visitation. Some hotels, including the Kimpton Vividora Barcelona, are now accepting bookings for Sagrada Família packages featuring VIP tickets, tours, and other perks to celebrate the momentous occasion.

Meanwhile, some tour operators have already seen a significant spike in visitors to the landmark since tourism has come roaring back following the pandemic. Madison Pietrowski, U.S. brand director at GetYourGuide, told Afar via email that the company experienced a notable bump in interest from travelers since the most recent completion date was announced.

“Sagrada Família tours are among the top five most popular international guided tours for U.S. travelers on our platform,” Pietrowski said.

A spokesperson for GetYourGuide told Afar that the operator has not yet decided whether it will create additional special tours around the cathedral’s completion in 2026, similar to the popular after-hours tours it offered in 2023. The company currently offers several ticketing and tour options for the Sagrada Família, including some that incorporate Gaudí’s other works in Barcelona, for between approximately $35 and $150 per ticket.

However, Pietrowski advised travelers who want to experience the Sagrada Família without swarming crowds to consider visiting during the offseason instead of the peak summer months.

“During the winter solstice you can actually see Gaudí’s intended symphony of color particularly well, a phenomenon that occurs when the sun sets and hits the stained-glass windows and creates a progressive kaleidoscope of colors inside the Basilica,” she said. “It’s a sight to behold.”

But whatever time of year they come, prospective visitors should be sure to purchase Sagrada Família tickets, either through the cathedral directly or another operator, as far in advance as possible. In addition, the cathedral’s social media accounts often announce special events, such as worship services, that are open to the public. On X, the cathedral provides insightful, easy-to-digest historical and current information in English, Spanish, and Catalan, which is an excellent way to stay updated about the exact completion date as it nears.

Journalist Blane Bachelor regularly contributes to outlets including CNN, Conde Nast Traveler, and Garden & Gun. Her main specialties are travel and aviation, but she especially loves offbeat topics (like anything spooky or haunted!). Blane was born and raised in Florida and has lived in four countries abroad. Her current base is Amsterdam, where she resides with her husband and son.
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