View of the towers of Sagrada Familia (Barcelona, Spain)

Are La Sagrada Familia Towers Worth it? Which is best?

Nativity façade, the Sagrada Familia best towers

TIPS TO CHOOSE THE SAGRADA FAMILIA BEST TOWER FOR YOU

In the old times, anyone could access the Sagrada Familia towers: you just had to stand in line. Then you were free to go up and down as you pleased in the maze of interconnected stairs. Unfortunately, with the rise of tourism that started posing safety issues.

People would get lost and get anxiety attacks. Or would decide to descend against the direction of the other visitors, with little respect for personal space in a narrow staircase. People would get stuck in line inside the towers waiting for other people to move on. And some people would get claustrophobic after a while.

That has changed now. The capacity of the towers is restricted to lift ticket holders, and the itinerary is one-way only with no bifurcations. No more getting lost, no more walking against the flow. The visit of the towers is now much more pleasant! But in order to enjoy them, you need to plan efficiently right from the start.

When you purchase Sagrada Familia tickets, you are given a variety of choices. Most tickets limit your visit to the ground level: if you wish to have access to the towers, you must get a specific ticket with tower access. They are double-timed tickets that will be scanned at the entrance of the church and again when you access the tower lift.

During the booking process, you'll be asked which tower you want to visit. There's two options: Nativity or Passion. Today we'll help you make an informed choice when deciding which is the best choice for you.

Which Sagrada Familia tower is better: Passion or Nativity?

1

Some background on the Nativity towers

The Nativity Façade was mostly built during Antoni Gaudi’s life. In 1926 when he passed away run over by a tramway, the tower to the left, Saint Barnabas, was completed and the other three towers were only missing the tips. 

The visit of this façade includes three out of four towers, with a lift taking you up Saint Jude’s tower, at 50m / 164 ft. After getting off the lift, you start climbing up the stairs and a bit further up you reach a scenic bridge at 60m / 197 ft behind the cypress tree sculpture, connecting with the next tower: Simon’s. 

The itinerary goes still a bit further up connecting with Saint Barnabas tower. It’s the highest point you’ll reach: 75m / 246 ft. From then on, it’s all the way down. 

This is the longest tower itinerary in the Sagrada Familia, but it’s also the darkest as there are some sections of the steps that get no sunlight and the electric lighting is sort of faint.

Gaudi never envisioned these towers to be visited by hundred of people: they were going to be bell towers and only the bell ringer was supposed to come up. So the fact that there weren’t a few dark spots in the towers didn’t matter much for them…

2

Some background on the Passion towers

The Towers of the Passion Façade were built in the 1950's, 25 years after Gaudi's death. Gaudi's plaster models had been restored and they were scrupulously followed. Their shape at the base is slightly elliptical, as opposed to the perfect circles of the Nativity.

Although there’s 4 towers here, only two of them make part of the itinerary open to the public. It starts with the lift going up the Philip Tower, to the 65m / 213 level. As you get out of it, you go a few steps further up to a platform at the top of the tower from where you can see the views.

It’s wide enough to not feel as crowded as the Cypress Tree Bridge of the Nativity façade. Next you cross over Thomas Tower through a short bridge. The highest point you can reach is around 90m (295 ft). And from here it’s all the way down back to the ground level.

The reason why the towers of  Bartholomew and James the Less aren’t open to the public is that they house a nest of falcons, and they must be kept away from people and noise to breed their chicks. 

3

What is the Sagrada Familia towers height?

The height of the towers is the same in both façades: 107m / 351ft for the central towers and 98m / 321.5ft for the side ones. However, visitors never get to reach such height: the itinerary takes you around 90m / 295ft.

Interestingly, the towers in the main façade, the Glory Façade, will be higher. That has do do with the importance of the Apostles to which each tower is dedicated. The Glory façade will have the most powerful of them: Saint Peter and Paul in the center, being the tallest (117m / 384ft), and flanked by Andrew and James the Great, slightly shorter (112m / 367.5ft).

Did you known there are 10 more towers missing, and the tallest will reach 173m / 567.5 ft? More about that at the end of the post!

4

How many steps are in the Sagrada Familia towers?

A complete section of the stairs inside the Sagrada Familia towers is 340 steps in the Nativity Façade and 426 steps in the Passion Façade. The first part feels safer with walls in both sides of the staircase and window openings allowing you to see the views.

But the last portion becomes a narrow spiral stair with only a wall to one side and a low balustrade in the other. If you lean in, you can see all the way down to the ground through the spiraling hole. Here Dan Brown placed a frenetic prosecution in a chapter of his book Origins. The reality is not as daunting as in the book, though.

Now, the total number of steps you’ll be climbing is higher in the Nativity façade, first because the itinerary is longer and second because the elevator ride is shorter.

5

Which Sagrada Familia towers get the best view?

Well, the answer to this question is very personal. It depends on what you consider a good view… The Nativity Tower view faces the park with a lake at the foot of it, which is pretty cool. Then you get to see the western part of the city, with the AGBAR tower and the twin towers of the Port Olimpic. If the day is clear enough, you’ll get some views of the mountains further North.

As for the Passion Towers, the park at its foot is mostly greenery, but you also get to see the undulating rooftop of the Sagrada Familia Schools. You also get good views of the AGBAR Tower and the Olympic Village towers, PLUS you get to see the towers of the Cathedral in the Gothic Quarter, as well as the Montjuic Hill. I personally like this side of the city better.

From both towers you get a good view over the construction of the central towers, as well as the fruit pinacles in the sides of the church.

AND FINALLY! What are all the Sagrada Familia 18 Towers?

6

All the Sagrada Familia 18 towers

Gaudi planned an enormous church that would feature a total of 18 towers. 8 of them are already built: 4 in the Nativity Façade and 4 in the Passion Façade. The Glory Façade, the future main entrance, will have 4 more.

That will make 12 towers – the 12 Apostles, disciples of Jesus. Gaudi never envisioned these towers to be visited, actually. They were meant to be belltowers. That explains why the tower stairs are so narrow: only the bell ringer was supposed to be going up and down such maze of steps.

They are already working in the project to create the over 50 tubular bells that go inside. But in the meantime, the space is partially occupied by the elevators that take you up the towers!

Next, in the center of the transept there’s going to be 4 more towers, for the 4 Evangelist that wrote the Gospels: Mathew, Mark, Luc and John. At the moment, these are rising high but not completed yet. They’ll be empty inside (no stairs, no bells) and they’ll serve as huge skylights.

Over the apse will rise the tower of the Virgin Mary, crowned with a star. I’ll also be empty and serve as a skylight, and will be the second tallest tower – 120m / 394 ft. The goal is to complete it by the end of 2021.

The highest tower, 173m / 567.5ft will be in the center of the transept, surrounded by the Evangelists towers. It’ll be topped by a cross, symbolizing Jesus Christ. Gaudi already planned stairs and elevators to take you to the top, where he planned a vantage point. Initially was planned to be finished by 2026 to celebrate the 100 anniversary of Gaudi’s death. Unfortunately, COVID has delayed the works and there’s not a completion date at the moment.

Which is the Sagrada Familia best tower for you?

Marta

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