Passion facade or Nativity facade – better tower at Sagrada Familia?

Five million people visit Sagrada Familia in Barcelona every year.

Such huge numbers make it the second most visited tourist attraction after the Great Wall of China, which gets 10 million visitors annually.

Some visitors only explore the Basilica, while others also go up one of the Towers to see the facades.

But before they purchase their ticket, the question is: Passion facade or Nativity facade?

Which Sagrada Familia tower tickets should they buy?

The better option would be to see both the Nativity facade and Passion facade, but that is usually impossible for three reasons.

1. Limited time the tourists have

2. The need to buy two tickets to go up both the towers

3. No connecting bridge between the two towers

Those who don’t do their research before visiting Sagrada Familia have to decide which tower they will climb up, at the ticketing line.

At the end of this article, you will get your answer to the question – Passion facade or Nativity facade.

Towers at Sagrada Familia

When fully built, this Basilica will have 18 towers, but only eight are complete today.

These Towers are of varying heights, their height reflecting the hierarchy of the biblical figure they represent.

This infographic explains the 18 Towers of Sagrada Familia, the Biblical figure they represent, and their respective location within the Basilica.

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In the middle of Sagrada Familia is the tallest tower dedicated to Jesus Christ.

Around this central tower, four towers stand tall, representing the four Evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

These Evangelists wrote the four official Gospels, which are considered the Word of God, and that’s why they are closest to Jesus.

For the uninitiated, ‘Gospels’ are books containing the life and teachings of Jesus.

At the end of the Basilica is its apse and a colossal tower representing the Virgin Mary rests on top.

Virgin Mary’s tower should have been the second tallest after Jesus, but since Gaudi was a catholic, he designed it a bit shorter than the Evangelists.

The star on top identifies the Virgin Mary’s tower.

Besides these six towers, there are 12 more, which represent the 12 Apostles, the primary disciples of Jesus.

These 12 Sagrada Familia Towers representing the Apostles form the three facades of the Basilica.

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Facades at Sagrada Familia

There are three facades in Sagrada Familia Cathedral – the Nativity Facade, the Passion Facade, and the Glory Facade.

Only eight of the 18 planned Sagrada Familia towers are fully constructed.

Of these eight complete towers, four are part of the Nativity facade, and four are part of the Passion facade.

A facade is a view that a few towers combine and create for the viewer.

Nativity Facade

The four Eastern towers in the front of Sagrada Família make up the Nativity Facade.

These towers represent the four Apostles Matthew, Barnabas, Jude, and Simon.

The Nativity facade view represents the birth and childhood of Jesus Christ.

Scenes from stories starting from Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary to the growth of Jesus decorate the Nativity facade.

This facade faces North-East, a symbolism where the rising Sun depicts the birth of Jesus Christ.

The Nativity facade was completed under the supervision of Gaudi himself in 1935.

Passion Facade

Sagrada Familia’s four towers facing West make up the Passion Facade.

These towers represent the four Apostles James, Thomas, Philip, and Bartholomew, making up the Passion Facade view.

Work on the Passion Facade started in 1954 and ended in 2018.

While the Nativity facade is beautiful with all the decorations, the Passion facade is austere, plain, and simple.

Sculptures of Passion facade are carved from bare stones, using solid straight lines to form angular and rigid shapes.

Gaudi chose this style of decoration for Passion Facade because he wanted it to be the exact opposite of the Nativity Facade.

He wanted the Passion Facade to depict misery and death, while the Nativity facade showcased life.

Gaudi wanted Passion Facade to show the brutality of Jesus Christ’s death.

Glory Facade

The rest of the four towers in the South make up the Glory facade.

The Glory facade towers represent Andrew, Peter, Paul, and James, the Greater.

This facade is dedicated to the Glory of Jesus and hence the name.

It represents the road to God: Death, Final Judgment, and Glory.

The facade’s construction for this facade began in 2002, and once completed, these will be the tallest of all Sagrada Familia towers.

Only the foundations for the huge Towers are in place at the Glory Facade. The decorations are yet to start.

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Are Sagrada Familia towers worth it?

Not all tourists who visit Sagrada Familia go up the towers.

They cite lack of time and money (yes, you need to pay extra to go up the Sagrada Familia Towers) as the reason.

If you aren’t in a hurry and not on a budget, we highly recommend going up the tower – it is totally worth it.

While the interior of Sagrada Familia is impressive, the exterior, when viewed from one of the towers, is equally beautiful.

The view from below doesn’t show you the intricate work on the facades of this masterpiece by Antoni Gaudi.

Besides checking out the facades and other towers, you can also catch amazing views of the city of Barcelona from the top.

When you go up one of the Sagrada Familia towers, you also get a chance to view the construction process of such a massive monument.

Follow the link to find out the seven reasons why we think Sagrada Familia towers are worth a visit.

Bonus: Check out 23 interesting facts about Sagrada Familia

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Passion facade or Nativity facade – which is better?

The majority of the visitors to Sagrada Familia seem to think that the Nativity facade is better than the Passion facade.

In fact, the guides who take the tourists to both the towers say they have seen a better sense of satisfaction in tourists who go up Nativity facade.

Here are our reasons for why we think Nativity facade is better.

1. Antoni Gaudi built the Nativity facade himself. It makes more sense to see the towers built by the real architect of Sagrada Familia.

2. A bridge connects two towers of the Nativity facade. Once you take the elevator and go up the Nativity facade, you can walk on the bridge for incredible views. Passion facade has no such bridge.

3. Standing on this bridge of the Nativity facade, you can view diverse details of the towers from close.

4. On your way down the Nativity facade, you can get into the balconies to better view the details of the towers.

5. From Nativity Tower, you see the city and the mountain range behind Barcelona, and from Passion Tower, you see the ocean. It is better to get a bird’s eye view of Barcelona.

6. The Nativity facade works better if you visit in the afternoon. After 12 pm, the sun is at your back, making it easy to snap excellent photos of your family, friends, and the Basilica in general.

Update: Till early 2019, it was possible to choose the Tower you want to visit but not anymore. Whichever tower you opt for, do check out the best time to visit Sagrada Familia.

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Before buying Tower tickets

Here are a few things you must know before booking Sagrada Familia tower tickets –

1. When you buy the Tower tickets online, you don’t pay what is known as ‘Ticketing window surcharge’ – the cost of maintaining a ticketing window at the venue. Thus, online tickets are cheaper.

2. All the online tickets help you skip the notoriously long lines at Sagrada Familia ticket counters.

3. You don’t need to take printouts of these tickets. On the day of your visit, show your ticket in your email and walk in at the entrance.

4. Children younger than six years are not allowed to go up the Nativity or Passion Towers. They can, however, explore the rest of the attraction with you.

5. During the peak season, while buying the Tower ticket, it is impossible to choose the Tower you will visit. Depending on the availability, you will get a chance to go up either the Nativity or the Passion Tower.

But having said that, the Sagrada Familia Tower experience is not something to be missed just because you didn’t get to choose.

So what is it going to be?

Sagrada Familia fast track tickets€31
Sagrada Familia with Tower access (Not available)€40
Sagrada Familia Guided tour€50
Sagrada Familia guided tour + Tower access€59
Guided tour of Sagrada Familia & Park Guell€79
Tip: 90% of the visitors opt for fast track ticket, which is the cheapest way to explore

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Tower tickets FAQs

Tourists planning to buy a Sagrada Familia ticket have a lot of questions.

We try and answer them here –

  1. Can I purchase Sagrada Familia Towers tickets online?

    Visitors can buy Sagrada Familia’s Tower tickets online.

    You can book Sagrada Familia entry with a self-guided tour of the Tower (currently not available due to the pandemic) or opt for a guided tour of the Tower, which is costlier.

  2. Do I need advance tickets for Sagrada Familia Towers?

    Even though it is not a must, we recommend you buy Sagrada Familia Tower tickets before visiting the attraction.

    If you already have the tickets when you reach Sagrada Familia, you can avoid standing in the long lines at the ticketing counter.

  3. If I have the basic Sagrada Familia ticket, can I upgrade to the Towers ticket?

    Yes, once you reach the attraction, you can upgrade your regular ticket and add a Tower visit to it.

    However, they will be subject to availability at that time.

  4. Can I buy same-day Sagrada Familia Tower tickets?

    You can purchase same-day Sagrada Familia tickets either online or from the Sagrada Familia’s ticket office. 

    During peak hours, you may have to wait at the ticket counter for more than an hour, which you can avoid if you buy the tickets online

    Besides, there is a surcharge on tickets purchased at the ticket office.

  5. With a Sagrada Familia ticket purchased online, can I enter the attraction straight away?

    Yes, you can show the ticket you received in your email (after the purchase) and walk-in.

    You DO NOT need to take any printouts or show the ticket in your email and get a physical one.

  6. Can kids go up Sagrada Familia towers?

    As a safety measure, only children over six years can go up the Sagrada Familia Towers.

    And kids under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult.

  7. How do I get the Sagrada Familia Towers ticket if they are sold out?

    A limited number of self-guided Tower tickets get sold every day. 

    If they get sold out, your next best option is to book a guided tour of the Towers.

  8. Should I buy the regular tickets or Tower tickets at Sagrada Familia?

    Ninety percent of the visitors to Sagrada Familia opt for the Fast Track ticket, which doesn’t get you access to the Towers.

    If you qualify for any of the conditions below, you must buy the Sagrada Familia Tower ticket –

    1. You love Antonio Gaudi’s work
    2. You want to explore Sagrada Familia better
    3. You have time on your hands
    4. Money isn’t a concern (Tower tickets are costlier!)
    5. You are NOT traveling with kids younger than ten years

  9. If I buy an online Tower ticket, which Sagrada Familia entrance should I use?

    If you have booked a self-guided Tower ticket (currently not available due to the pandemic), enter Sagrada Familia from the Marina side and show your smartphone ticket at the entrance.

    If you have booked a guided tour of the Sagrada Familia Tower from us, show your smartphone ticket to your guide at the Quiosc Bar at Plaza de Gaudí across the street from Sagrada Familia. 

    Please arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of your tour.

  10. With one Sagrada Familia Tower ticket, how many Towers can I see?

    With one Sagrada Familia Tower ticket, you can only go up one of the Towers.

    Until recently, you could decide which Tower you want to go up on – Nativity or Passion – but this has changed since the beginning of 2019.

    Now when Tower ticket holders walk in, you will be ushered in the direction of one of the Basilica’s Towers.

  11. Can I go from one Sagrada Familia Tower to the other?

    No, you can’t because the Nativity Tower and the Passion Tower are not connected.

    If you plan to see both the Towers, you must buy two Tower tickets.

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Sagrada Familia tickets with NO Tower access

Not everybody wants to go up the Sagrada Familia’s Nativity or Passion Towers.

Those that only explore the Cathedral and don’t go up the Towers usually fall under one of these three categories –

1. They are traveling with kids younger than six years, who aren’t allowed to go up the Towers

2. They don’t fancy themselves walking down the 400 steps

3. They have something planned later and don’t have 45 to 60 minutes to spare for the Towers

Such visitors buy the Fast Track tickets, which saves them both time (they don’t need to wait in lines) and money (it is the cheapest ticket).

You ticket comes with the audio guide, which you can collect at the entrance.

Ticket prices

Adult ticket (30 to 64 years): 31.60 Euros
Youth ticket (11 to 29 years): 29.60 Euros
Student ticket (with valid ID): 29.60 Euros
Seniors ticket (65+ years): 27.50 Euros
Child ticket (0 to 10 years): Free entry

Popular attractions in Barcelona

# Sagrada Familia
# Park Guell
# Casa Batllo
# Casa Mila
# Camp Nou
# Barcelona Zoo
# Montserrat Monastery
# Barcelona Cable Car
# Joan Miro Foundation
# Salvador Dali Museum
# Barcelona Aquarium
# Moco Museum
# Gaudi House Museum

Jamshed V Rajan: He is a two-faced traveler, who enjoys both the hustle-bustle of an urban holiday and the serenity of a break from the rest of the World. During some of his vacations, he is a resort hopper, and on others, he barely spends time in his hotel. He loves to try mouth-watering local cuisines, especially non-vegetarian dishes. Favourite Cities: Amsterdam, Las Vegas, Dublin, Prague, Vienna

View Comments (5)

  • If I have lots of time and don't mind buying tickets for both the Passion and Nativity Towers, can I visit them both in a day?

    • Yes Peter, you can. Just that you -

      1. Need to buy two tickets to go up both the towers

      2. Since the facades are not connected, you will need to go up both the Towers one by one.

  • Thank you, it is a very informative article. Now I am sure that I want to see the Nativity facade during my visit to Sagrada Familia.

  • I loved how you have covered the entire information on Sagrada Familia. I have a question, as i will be visiting this beauty in September 2021, do i still have an option of selecting facade? Because somewhere on google i read, that visitors can view only the basilica can be & not the facades due to covid?

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