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.
Most of these five million tourists have one question: Passion facade or Nativity facade?
Which Sagrada Familia tower tickets should they buy?
The much more natural choice would have been to see both – Nativity facade and Passion facade.
Unfortunately, that’s not possible due to these three reasons –
1. Limited time the tourists have
2. The need to buy two tickets to go up both the towers
3. Only one facade can be visited at a time because Nativity and Passion facades are not connected
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. Jump to the tickets section
Towers at Sagrada Familia
When fully built, this Basilica will have 18 towers, but as of today, only eight are complete.
These Towers are of varying heights, their height reflecting the hierarchy of the biblical figure they represent.
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.
IMPORTANT: Due to the peak season, all the self-guided Sagrada Familia Tower tickets have sold out.
Your best chance of going up Sagrada Familia Towers is by booking a guided tour of the Towers.
We present two of our favourites –
1. Two-hour guided tour with Tower access
2. 90-minutes guided tour with Tower access
These guided tours cost Euros 50+ per person.
If you are on a budget, you may have to skip the Tower and buy the cheapest Sagrada Familia tickets.
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 nothing but the view that a few towers combine and create for the viewer.
Let’s understand them better.
What is 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.
Nativity facade was completed under the supervision of Gaudi himself in 1935.
What is 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 and together make 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 Nativity Facade.
He wanted the Passion Facade to depict misery and death, while Nativity facade, showcased life.
Gaudi wanted Passion Facade to show the brutality of Jesus Christ’s death.
What is 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 construction for this facade began in 2002 and once completed, these will be the tallest of all Sagrada Familia towers.
Since this facade isn’t complete, you can’t go up.
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 if you are not on a budget, we highly recommend going up the tower – it is totally worth it.
While the interior of Sagrada Familia is amazing, 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, from the top, you can also catch amazing views of the city of Barcelona.
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.
Because of all these reasons, we feel the extra money you will spend on Tower access tickets, is totally worth it.
Now for the question…
Passion facade or Nativity facade – which is better?
As for our recommendation on which facade is better – the Nativity facade is better than the Passion facade. Jump to the tickets section
Why is Nativity facade better than Passion facade?
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 it is better to buy tower tickets for Nativity facade.
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 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 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 for a better view of the details on 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. Since we all love to take photographs, Nativity facade works best. After 12 noon, the sun is at your back, making it easy to snap excellent photos of your family, friends and the Basilica in general.
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 tickets recommended below are ‘Skip the Line.’ That is, they help you skip the notoriously long lines at Sagrada Familia.
3. You don’t need to take print outs of these tickets. On the day of your visit, at the entrance just show your ticket in your email and walk in.
4. Children younger than 6 years are not allowed to go up the Nativity or Passion Towers. They can however, explore rest of the attraction with you.
5. During the peak season, while buying the Tower ticket it is not possible 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.
Sagrada Familia Tower tickets
There are two ways to experience the Sagrada Familia Towers.
Buy self-guided Tower tickets and explore them yourself or buy a guided tour of Sagrada Familia Towers and let an expert take you around.
The self-guided Tower tickets are cheaper while the guided tower tickets are a bit costlier.
Since there is a massive demand for the Tower tickets, tourists have already booked all the cheaper self-guided Tower tickets.
Now, only the Sagrada Familia guided tower tickets are available, but they are also vanishing fast.
We explain them below –
Guided Tower tickets
Since these are Skip The Line tickets, you avoid the notoriously long lines at the Basilica.
The local guide takes you around Antoni Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece and also helps you climb one of the Towers – Nativity or Passion.
The expert guide also explains the intricate detailing and Gaudi’s symbolism when you go up the Tower.
This guided tour also includes a visit to the Sagrada Familia Museum and the School.
After the guided tour is over, you can stay on for as long as you want.
The Sagrada Familia guided Tower experience comes in two flavors – the 120-minute tour and the 90-minute tour.
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 travelling with kids younger than 6 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 (its the cheapest ticket).
Must know before going up the Tower
Before you decide to go up one of the Sagrada Familia Towers and soak in the view, do read the below given information carefully.
1. Despite our advice, if you decide to buy the tickets at the attraction itself, ask for the “Top Views” tickets at the ticketing counter.
2. You can only visit one facade at a time because they aren’t connected yet. This is the reason why tourists must choose between the Passion facade and Nativity facade.
3. To reach the top of the Sagrada Familia towers, you must take one of the lifts in each of the facades.
4. Once you have checked out the views from the facades, everybody must walk down approximately 400 stairs.
6. Children younger than six years aren’t allowed to climb the tower because these descending towers don’t have handrails.
7. All kids under 16 must have an adult supervisor with them.
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