The Cathedral's construction began in 1882 as the crypt and foundations were being laid. It was only a year later that the talented Gaudi who had a hand in most large-scale construction projects around Barcelona at the time took over and radically changed the majority of the Cathedral's design.
Construction work has been ongoing since then to the present day. After Gaudi's death in 1926, the donation-funded work has progressed at varying speeds with long pauses during wars.
Gaudi's plans involved a great amount of detail although large parts of the design were open for interpretation or left largely blank which means that like most of Europe's largest Cathedrals a number of architects over time have had their input.
The Cathedral's design team sped up work on the main nave and the 8 spires that were being worked on at the turn of the 21st century in order to complete the necessary parts in time for Pope Benedict XVI's arrival in November 2010 during which the Cathedral was formally consecrated.
The Sagrada Familia continues to be a controversial subject among the citizens of Barcelona. Aside from the rather unusual design, many argue that some of the latter additions are too far from Gaudi's original thinking. Despite this, the project has formally passed the halfway point in 2010 with a number of much more complex parts yet to be started including the 175m central tower dwarfing the remaining 17 out which 8 have been built so far.
The official deadline of 2028 seems ambitious, and many say that corners would have to be cut to get there, but the Cathedral's beauty unravels spectacularly year by year as more and more of its grandeur is turned from paper into stone.
The style of the Cathedral is a one-off mix of late Gothic styling and elements of modernism. The overall construction plans are not too distinct from some of Spain's other famous cathedrals in terms of internal layout and chapel arrangement although the fine detail obviously makes it stand out from the crowd.
The Cathedral's design includes construction of 18 spires - 12 in the names of the Apostles, 4 for the Evangelists, 1 for the Virgin Mary and 1 for Jesus Christ. The central tower on which work is yet to start will be topped with a Cross and be a striking 175m tall. Interestingly, this height is exactly 1m short of Mount Montjuïc - Barcelona's highest point and will make the Cathedral the tallest church in the world.
Another striking design feature is the internal column structure. Quite simply unlike any other in the world, the design is meant to resemble a forest and as you look up, the columns split into branches with a canopy effect created through a geometric arrangement of domed ceilings.
The Church's plans include three grand façades. The first of the three, named after the Nativity was completed in 1935. This richly decorated front was meant to be the most appealing with a large range of sculptures and details part of the design.
The Passion façade is a much more low-key affair. Dedicated to Christ's crucification, the decoration is stark and somewhat minimalist with sharp straight lines resembling the construction of bare bone. A number of inclined supporting columns were built to look like Sequoia trees.
The last façade to be built is on in the name of Glory. Work on the most ornate and complex of the three began in 2002. With scenes of the Judgement Day, this part of the Cathedral will be decorated with statues of Demons and hellish scenes as well as scenes of Glory and Heaven.
Travel tip: La Sagrada Familia is closed on 25 and 26 December, as well as New Year's Day and 6 January.
January 1st to February 28th
March 1st to March 31st
April 1st to September 30th
October 1st to October 31st
November 1st to December 31st
December 25th to December 26th
La Sagrada Família
Plaça de la Sagrada Família, 316