The towers of the Sagrada Familia are divided into two distinct groups: the Nativity facade and the Passion facade. The towers of the Nativity facade represent the twelve apostles, while the towers of the Passion facade represent the four evangelists of the Christian faith. The Nativity facade is the most evident side and is suggestive of the birth of Jesus, while the Passion facade is on the opposite side of the church and depicts a more serious, somber representation of Jesus’ crucifixion. The central towers reach the highest heights, rising over the city of Barcelona with the majesty of a crucifix and bell-towers.
The towers represent various Biblical and spiritual truths through their design. The four main towers, corresponding to the four Evangelists, are the tallest of all the spires. The angels that adorn the towers are said to be ascending to heaven while carrying Christ to his glory. The eight smaller towers are believed to represent the Twelve Apostles, the last two representing St. Paul and St. Joseph. Each tower is also decorated with sculpted Gospel stories and Nativity florals. The Nativity towers are more ornate than the Passion ones, fitting the celebratory nature of the Nativity scene.
The towers of the Sagrada Familia are made of reinforced concrete, a popular material for Gaudi’s time. Structurally, the towers’ bases are elliptical-shaped with one side wider than the other, allowing them to support the vertical weight of the structures. The external walls have an organic feel with undulating curves that are more accentuated at the top, resembling the structure of a bell. The spires continue to the sky with pointed, bell-shaped pinnacles decorated with hand-crafted mosaics, many of which were designed by Gaudi himself.
The towers of the Sagrada Familia have a special symbolism for the believers of the Christian faith. Many believe that the final tower to be constructed, a central tower rising from the crucifix, will represent the glory of Christ returned to earth. This tower is intended to showcase the beauty and grandeur of the belief in the resurrection and of Jesus’ ascension to heaven.
The main altar consists of two large altarpieces, one at each end of the church. The main altarpiece showcases the Nativity spiral-shaped columns, which contain the image of Jesus’ birth. The smaller altarpiece at the back contains sculpted images of the Passion of the Christ on three lateral portals with the image of the crucifixion on its upper part.
The towers of the Sagrada Familia are supported by two flying buttresses which run from the roofs of the nave to the top of the towers. These buttresses provide an extra level of structural support, allowing the towers to soar to great heights without compromising their integrity.
In addition to being an architectural marvel and a symbol of faith, the towers are also equipped with cutting-edge lightning protection devices. The safety rods, installed on the sides of the towers, protect people from electrical shocks by grounding the lightning bolt to the ground.
Modern day construction on the Sagrada Familia is ongoing, over a century after Gaudi has passed away. The towers are still being added to the church, with the central towers rising as high as 550 feet in the sky. It is estimated that the construction of the basilica will be complete in 2026, just in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.
Besides new construction, the towers are also periodically restored. The original18 steeples have all been refurbished, with the four main towers being lifted and supported along their edges to secure their stability. This procedure is completed once every seven to ten years to ensure that the towers are safe and continue to offer shelter to Barcelona’s faithful.
The towers require a special type of engineering. Their structure is extremely intricate and requires advanced techniques to support the concrete walls. Recently, a group of engineers designed an innovative system to stabilize the upper part of the towers, preventing them from toppling over and strengthening their intricate design.
The towers of the Sagrada Familia continue to attract thousands of visitors each year. From a distance, the towers resemble a majestic mountain range, set against the beautiful skyline of Barcelona. Once inside, visitors are captivated by the intricate design and breathtaking views from the top of the towers. Visiting the Sagrada Familia is an unforgettable experience and a must-see for those traveling to Barcelona.
The towers of the Sagrada Familia have been a beacon of faith and inspiration for centuries. Built to honor the teachings of Jesus Christ, each tower carries its own spiritual significance and beauty. Gaudi’s innovative styling, engineering feats, and timeless masterpieces ensure that the towers will continue to dazzle and captivate travelers for centuries to come.