How Many Towers Does Sagrada Familia Have

The Basílica de la Sagrada Família, designed by the renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí, is a World Heritage Site that towers over Barcelona, its majestic spires scraping against the blue sky. The structure may look like it was crafted from a mysterious fairy tale, but in reality it has taken almost 140 years of work to set down its extraordinary foundations. One of the most amazing aspects of the Sagrada Família is the sheer number of towers – the entire building consists of eighteen in total, scattered around its perimeter. As of 2021, work on the Sagrada Família continues, with nine of these towers still incomplete.

The tallest tower of the Sagrada Família is the main one, which towers 172.5m above the rest. It stands almost twice as tall as the second tallest tower of 94m. The main tower is dedicated to Jesus Christ and has four smaller towers at its corners. The rest of the towers are dedicated to the twelve disciples of Jesus, the four evangelists and Virgin Mary. Each of these towers has a characteristic bell at the top, which will eventually be used for ringing the traditional bells for religious ceremonies. It is the plan that once all eighteen towers are complete, this series of bells will create melodious music.

Archaeological studies reveal that the construction of the Sagrada Família initiated in 1882, under the directorship of architect Francisco de Paula del Villar. The spire associated with Jesus Christ, consisting of four towers at the base, only began in 1900 under the direction of Gaudí, who took over the project in 1883. It is thought that the construction of the other seventeen towers began in the 1930s when Gaudí started to work on them. However, work on the Sagrada Família stopped in 1936 due to the Spanish Civil War, with only the main tower reaching completion at the time. After Gaudí’s death in 1926, the task of completing the building was taken up by architects who continued in the vein of Gaudí’s design.

The engineering behind the Sagrada Família is as impressive as the structure itself. Each tower has to be built in two essential steps: firstly, the foundations must be cured and hardened, and then the body of the tower is constructed. After that, the towers must be crowned with an elaborate roof, and finally, the symbolic bell is installed. These processes take a long time and use a range of techniques, from anvils and furnaces to 3D printing and tedious carving. Moreover, the modern-day architects periodically monitor the form and structure of the towers to ensure that the building is not damaged by corrosion or natural disasters.

The completion of the Sagrada Família is a great source of pride for both the city of Barcelona and Catalonia. Its unique construction and engineering represent an impressive symbol of faith and creativity. People from all over the world are eagerly waiting until all eighteen towers take their rightful place held high above the city and can then bellow out their chorus of religious celebration.

Elevation Plans

The completion of the Sagrada Família requires careful planning coordinated between architects, engineers and artisans, to ensure that each of the eighteen towers reaches the desired height. To get a sense of how this works, let’s take a look at elevation plans. These are models or diagrams which display a view of the building from above, showing the height of each tower in relation to the others, at different points in the construction process. Such plans, alongside the use of modern engineering and stone-cutting methods, have enabled the accurate and exact alignment of the Sagrada Família’s towers.

When creating an elevation plan, the aim is to make all eighteen towers of similar, if not identical, height. As they all want to reach the same predetermined height, each tower must be started and built with different levels. For one, the base of the tower has to be built first and then additional stones are added to the structure up to the desired height. Inevitably, the stones from which each tower is built will differ in size, so modern engineering processes can be used to cut the stones and fit them into the structure to meet the planned exact height.

Tools such as a theodolite or similar light surveying instrument, are used to measure accurately the heights of all towers. This is done through a process of connection and triangulation, laying down some specific points and measuring the distances from those points to the top of each tower. This process enables architects and engineers to identify the precise height of all eighteen towers. Therefore, the elevation plans are essential in the design and construction of the towers of the Sagrada Família.

Reason for Delays

The construction of the Sagrada Família started in 1882, but to this day some towers remain incomplete. There are several reasons why the building’s completion has been delayed. Firstly, the original plans by Gaudí were not precise enough to provide a straightforward construction plan. Furthermore, in 1926, when Gaudí died, work stopped completely until modern-day architects took over the project. Additionally, the Spanish Civil War of 1936 put a halt to the construction for three years. Another reason for the setback came when the incomplete towers of the Sagrada Família had to be cut into pieces due to their instability. Consequently, the weakened towers had to be reconstructed to completion from the ground.

Apart from these, financial issues have also hampered the construction process of the Sagrada Família. Funds for the construction have been scarce, including donations from members of the public or sponsorships from businesses, as well as financial support from Barcelona City Council. A large part of the cost has been covered by ticket income, which was made even more difficult during 2020 due to the world-wide Covid-19 pandemic.

It is estimated that the Sagrada Família should be complete by 2026, on the centenary of Gaudí’s passing. However, the completion of the entire project is subject to further delays. This could be due to reshaping of the original plans due to improvements such as digital engineering or the addition of further layers and details to the more complex parts of the structure. There is also the possibility that new technologies will be employed in finishing the building, such as 3D printing of stone.

Modern Technology

state-of-the-art technologies are being used to build and complete the Sagrada Família. New 3D modelling and printing techniques enable the fabrication of intricate stone elements for the towers and other decorative parts of the Sagrada Família. Digital engineering has also given a boost to the construction process, helping architects to better understand the building’s geometry, design development and materials specification.

The use of modern technologies also speeds up the construction of intricate vaulted ceilings, through the moulding of thin pre-stressed concrete shells. This is achieved through the use of computer-aided tools, specifically designed to model the building’s structural and architectural features, such as the vaulting shapes, heights and details. This also allows accurate production of shapes and contours, which are integrated into the main building structure without the need for extra labour or additional site visits.

Other modern tools and methods used in the completion of the Sagrada Família are the use of state-of-the-art robotic arms for precise cutting of masonry units, and Smart-Concrete, which enhances the physical and visual characteristics of the building. Both of these have enabled faster and more precise production of stones, ensuring precise alignment and placement when used in the construction of the towers of the Sagrada Família. Modern techniques are used to analyse soil condition, identify the sustainability of the structure and to protect its foundations from environmental damage.

Conservation Efforts

With the use of modern engineering and stone-cutting technologies in ever-increasing levels, there have been growing concerns about the potential damage to the building in the absence of proper conservation efforts.The Sagrada Família is constantly monitored and new maintenance procedures are constantly being developed, to protect the building from damage due to natural causes and human intervention.

For instance, there is a constant surveillance in terms of monitoring the orientation and stability of the towers, to avoid any possibilities of imbalance and collapse. Any sign of corrosion or decay is also monitored, which is important to prevent damage to the structure. To ensure the longevity of the building, regular porosity tests are conducted to monitor any changes in humidity levels. These tests help in identifying any potentials of physical damage to the structural elements.

In case of any damage to the building, there are specific conservation strategies in place to help in its restoration. In 2018, there was a minor collapse of one of the towers, due to which conservationists had to take necessary steps to restore its form. As part of the conservation strategy, the concrete casts of the building elements were taken with the help of 3D printing tools. In addition, mortar samples were also taken, to ensure safety and uniformity in the conservation process.


The Basílica de la Sagrada Família is an extraordinary work of architecture, representing a remarkable blend of gothic and modern styles, alongside an amalgamation of technical expertise and symbolism. Once complete, it will leave an everlasting legacy, a testament to Gaudí’s vision, creativity and craftsmanship. During its long and arduous history, it has become a source of national pride for the Catalans, and a shared sense of accomplishment and unity for both the people of Barcelona and from around the world.

The structure has already become an iconic artifact of Barcelona and a symbol of faith at a global level. Furthermore, with the completion of the Sagrada Família, new generations and tourists alike will come to the city to appreciate the grandeur of Gaudí’s masterpiece, and get to experience the majesty and awe of his creation. It is certain that the completed Sagrada Família will be held in awe and admiration for many, many generations to come.

Economic Considerations

The total cost of the building’s complete construction is estimated at €3000 million, and this figure rises every year — making it one of the most expensive buildings ever constructed. This cost includes all elements of the building, from wages to material costs, engineering and design contributions to protection and preservation measures. Modern technologies such as sensors and drones, have been employed to keep costs in check, but have also increased the overall cost of the project due to the high cost of these technologies.

To fund this colossal cost, the Sagrada Família Foundation was established in 2002. The foundation relies on ticket sales, donations from sponsors, private investors and funds from the Barcelona City Council. It is also a recognized tax deductible entity, eligible to benefit from the financial contributions of individuals and companies.

Consequently, the more donations the Foundation can receive, the faster the building can be completed. However, the recent pandemic situation has had a huge financial impact on the Foundation, causing ticket sales to drop drastically, and has caused the eventual completion date of the building to be pushed back. It is getting increasingly difficult for the Fund to receive donations, and therefore the total cost keeps increasing.

Cultural Effects

The construction of the Sagrada Família has had a remarkable cultural impact. After Gaudí’s death, the building has become a symbol of Catalan identity and a source of pride for all Barcelona citizens. The building has also become a major tourist spot for the city, with 6 million visitors visiting the site in 2019 alone. This helped to free the city from economic hardship resulting from the Civil War.

Moreover, this building has become a beacon of faith, with many people coming to the site to be a part of the spiritual journey of its final completion. Faithful Catholics, tourists and people from other religions have all come to the Sagrada Família in order to share in the momentous occasion of its potential completion.

Finally, the Sagrada Família has also become a symbol of hope, as people all around the world can look to this grand structure as a sign of determination and resilience in the face of hardship. Even through its delayed construction, the dedication of its architects has paid off with this structure continuing to stand today, almost 140 years after its inception.

Herman Shaw is a passionate traveler and avid photographer who has seen many of the world's most awe-inspiring monuments. He has developed expertise in various aspects of world architecture and culture which he enjoys sharing with his readers. With deep historical knowledge and insight, Herman's writing brings life to these remarkable artifacts and highlights their importance in the grand scheme of human history.

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