My recommendation is for the tower on the Nativity facade
I have shared reasons below. I am a private tourist guide who frequents Sagrada Familia.
1. Why Nativity tower over Passion tower?
- Nativity facade was built under the direct supervision of Antoni Gaudí. Other Sagrada Familia towers were constructed after the demise of Gaudi.
- In the Nativity facade, you have a bridge that connects two towers of Nativity facade. Walking on the bridge is an exhilarating experience in itself.
- On the way down, you can step out into the balconies for some great views and admire detailing that has gone into the towers.
- If you are keen on photography, go for Nativity towers and select afternoon timeslot. You will have the sun at your back making it easy to capture amazing photos. This post discusses the best time slot to visit Sagrada Familia.
- As a private guide, I have observed that guests who choose Nativity tower are generally more satisfied with the climb and the effort than those who opted for climbing the Passion Tower. You can buy entry + towers access "Top views" ticket directly from the official site.
2. Is it worthwhile to climb the towers?
Worth to climb the towers unless you are climbing the towers only for the best views of Barcelona. Here is a more detailed discussion on whether it is worthwhile to climb the towers. The best views of Sagrada Familia is not from the top of the towers but from the park opposite to the Sagrada Familia .
3. Passion facade or Nativity facade?
- Previously, from Passion tower, the climb down was easy as you could use an elevator. That facility does not exist anymore. Now, you can use the elevator only to climb up and have to use the spiral staircase to climb down (both on the Passion façade and the Nativity façade).To that extent, you can select either Passion tower or Nativity tower. However, I suggest Nativity facade.
- The towers of Nativity façade look out towards the sea while those of passion façade faces the city. Personally, my preference is for the view from nativity towers.
- Nativity facade celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ while Passion facade deals with the crucifixion. Detailing on both the towers are excellent. You have to admire the detailing from the ground and hence the detailing does not influence the choice of which tower to climb.
4. Is it difficult to climb down?
No. not at all. The climb down from the Sagrada Familia towers is a non-tiring, small adventure. The stairs are adequately lit with natural lighting. You can watch the staircase on youtube. I will not recommend the tower climb for those who are afraid of heights or suffer from vertigo.
Budget for around 45 minutes to 90 minutes to complete the tower visit. Post 1 pm, there is a line for the elevators as the elevator can only accommodate six people at a time.
5. When is it the best time to visit the towers?
Morning to early noon, just before the cruise crowds start to descend on Sagrada Familia. A more detailed answer on the best time slot to visit La Sagrada Familia is available in this post.
Here are my suggestions
- Once you enter Sagrada Familia, collect your audio guide and go for one round of exteriors to admire the beauty
- Climb the towers
- Walk into the interiors by 1430 -1530 so that you can watch the spectacular sight of light coming through the stained glasses and filling up the entire central nave.
6. Does the construction activity obstruct the view?
Hectic work is on to make Sagrada Familia ready by 2026 or 2028. However, the construction activity does not obstruct the view.
7. Which ticket to buy?
Buy the ticket that combines Basilica entry, audio guide, and visit to the towers. This post compares various ticketing options available to visit Sagrada Familia.
8. Are they strict about the dress code?
What is not acceptable has been specified clearly here on the official website. Please do follow all the rules and regulations.
9. What is the significance of Sagrada Familia towers?
Gaudi, the architect of Sagrada Familia, was an extremely religious man. He wanted to represent the life and teachings of Jesus on the portals of the three facades of Sagrada Familia. Each of the facades represents one of the three crucial events of Christ’s existence:
- Birth of Jesus Christ (Nativity Facade)
- Death of Jesus Christ (Passion Facade)
- Resurrection (Glory Facade)
Sagrada Familia Towers
Gaudi had planned for 18 towers for the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia. Of the eighteen towers, only eight have been completed: four on the Nativity facade and four on the Passion facade. Glory facade is a work in progress.
Eighteen Sagrada Familia towers across three facades
- Nativity Tower: Dedicated to the birth of Jesus Christ, the iconography used on the Nativity towers relates to nature and life. Nativity facade was completed in 1935 directly under Gaudi's supervision.
- Passion Tower: This facade facing the west represents the suffering of Christ during his crucifixion. This was completed in 1977.
- Glory Tower: This is the main facade representing resurrection and glory of Jesus. Much of Glory facade is under construction.Once completed, it will be the tallest of all Sagrada Familia towers.
Inspiration behind Sagrada Familia towers
The tradition of building human towers, or castells, is well ingrained in Catalonia. During festivals, there is a race to build the highest castell (human tower). The highest recorded Castell is a 10-floor one with three people on each floor. Gaudi always wore his Catalonian flag on his sleeve and arguably this culture of Castells inspired Gaudi to design intricate and tall towers for Sagrada Familia.
At the top it is fairly secure with security fences and nets all over. Climbing down is a bit of a bother though. The constant stream of people climbing down means that you have to often get into the balconies to let other visitors to pass
Sagrada Familia Towers : which is better?
While buying online tickets for La Sagrada Familia, you will be asked to select one of the towers. Unfortunately, no further information is provided to help one make a decision. Let me try and help you by comparing the two towers of Sagrada Familia - Nativity Tower and Passion Tower
Comparison of Nativity Tower and Passion Tower
View from the towers
- From Nativity Towers, view is of Eastern Barcelona. On clear day, you can see all the way to the sea.
- Views from Passion towers are of Western Barcelona including the city center. However, presence of construction equipment could hinder the view.
- You can walk across the bridge that connects two Nativity towers. This is an exhilarating experience
- You cannot walk between Passion towers as they are not connected.
- Much of Nativity Facade was constructed under Gaudi's direct supervision
- Towers of passion facade was constructed post death of Gaudi
- Nativity Facade is elaborate as it celebrates birth of Christ.
- Passion Facade is subdued as it is about crucifixion of Jesus.
Height of the Sagrada towers
- Towers of Nativity Facade are 55m in height
- Passion Facade towers are taller at 75m.
Sagrada Familia Facades
When complete, La Sagrada familia will have three façades
- Nativity façade to the East
- Passion façade to the West
- Glory façade to the South (under construction)
Gaudi had envisioned four towers each in Nativity and Passion facade and ten in Glory facade.
My Recommendation : Nativity Tower is better than Passion Tower. Go for towers in Nativity facade
I have just now called Sagrada Familia Visitor's office, and they have no specific recommendation on which tower to choose. The office also said:
Both the towers are equally visited and they are of the same height. The only difference is that Nativity faces east and Passion faces west.
Both towers have elevators to go up but coming down is by stairs only, no elevators. But it is 365 short steps, not difficult to come down.
They also confirmed that both towers now have clear views, no construction is happening to block the view.
I will go with Nativity because it was designed and completed when Gaudi was alive.
Ten top tips for visiting Sagrada Familia
I have been to Sagrada Familia on more than one occasion. Here are my general observations and tips for new tourists
Last week I visited Sagrada Familia, can confirm that elevator is available in both the towers only for going up and not for climbing down. The lines at the elevator for climbing up the Passion towers were longer.
Having been to both the towers, I can confirm that Nativity towers is more exciting thanks to the bridge where you can walk between the two towers. In terms of views, Passion Towers give you an excellent view of the blue ocean, while Nativity Towers give you better views of the city and the mountains. Honestly, I will not suggest going up the towers for the views. There are better places which offer incredible views of Barcelona.
Climbing down from the towers is bit of an issue. No, it is not tiring but the pathway is too narrow and the spiral makes it claustrophobic. The pathway is wide enough for one person to walk through. As you climb down, you can peep out through the many small windows. For climbing down, the management stagger the crowds so that there is no undue rush.
The lines at Sagrada Familia can get very long, especially in summers and in cruise season. Always a good idea to buy the ticket online. Buy the 'Experience panoramic views' ticket package at the official website. Also note that online tickets are marginally cheaper than the ones you buy at the ticket office.
If you pre book tower climb, be there at least 15 minutes before your scheduled time. If you are late by 15 minutes, it is difficult to get onto the elevators. At any given time, the elevators can manage to take in only about 8 people.
While booking tickets, please be aware that there are discounts for those under 30 and for senior citizens (65 years or older). Children under 10 visit free but cannot go up the towers.
It is OK if you skip climbing the towers, but you cannot miss the audio guide tour. Sagrada Familia has a history of over 100 years and many interesting tales. Audio guide is comprehensive as along as you do not do a rushed tour. There are big numbered signs all across La Sagrada which corresponds to the narration on the audio guide.
It is better to see the interiors in the afternoon. The light comes through the stained glass draping the surroundings with the colors of the rainbow.
There are adequate number of clean rest rooms in the premises. However, in peak hour there are long queues !
The souvenir shop located within the complex is a good place to pick stuff you want to take home. There is a shop of FC Barcelona also nearby.
Sagrada Familia is not just a tourist monument, it is a a place of worship. Pope Benedict XVI has consecrated Sagrada Familia, as a basilica. The Chapel of the Holy Sacrament and Penitence, is a space specially reserved for worship and contemplation. Dress code is relatively more strict over here. The website lists upcoming masses open to the general public.
Over the years I have been up so many times to La Sagrada Familia towers. I will always recommend Nativity over Passion Tower. Earlier, visitors preferred the convenience of the Passion Tower as they could use the elevator coming down as well. Now, both Passion and Nativity towers must be climbed down on foot.
Many of my guests ask me is it worth going up any of the towers at all? I will always say it is worth it but we can agree to disagree. In my opinion, it makes immense sense to buy combined ticket that includes the tower visit. It is important that you buy the tickets online so that you can avoid standing in the long line(Also online tickets are a tad cheaper!)
My preference for Nativity Tower
I recommend Nativity tower with my heart and my brain, both. Nativity was designed by Gaudi and completed while he was still alive. I am not recommending it for sentimental reasons alone. The bigger reason to choose Nativity is the detailing of the towers and the facade that can be better admired from the platforms accessed via the Nativity Tower.
Best view of Sagrada Familia
While Nativity tower offers the best view of Barcelona from Sagrada Familia, the adjacent parks, Placa de Gaudi and Placa de La Sagrada Familia , offer the best view of Sagrada Familia.
Opt for Nativity Tower while booking your ticket at La Sagrada
The Nativity tower has more intricate designs and also offers better views from top. Hence, select "Tower on the Nativity facade" while booking your ticket on the La Sagrada Familia online site.
1. Nativity tower was built by Gaudi
As per Gaudi’s design, there are 3 facades for La Sagrada Familia – Nativity Facade, Passion Facade and Glory Facade. Of the 3, only two towers - passion tower and nativity tower - are complete. The Nativity tower was completed during Gaudi’s lifetime, while the Passion tower was constructed based on Gaudi’s design but completed post his death.
2. Stunning views from Nativity tower
From the Nativity tower, you can walk across the bridge that connects the two towers of Sagrada Familia. The experience over the bridge is thrilling and the view is simply stunning.
3. Nativity was designed to be the best tower
Nativity tower was constructed between 1894 and 1930, during the lifetime of Gaudi. In his own words, Gaudi wanted The Nativity tower to be the most attractive of the 3 towers he had planned for Sagrada Familia.
Climbing the Passion tower
- Passion tower is significantly taller than Nativity, however ongoing construction activities obstruct the view.
- You can ascend either of the towers by elevator. However, you can come down by elevator only in the Passion tower. While officially, “Visitors must take the stairs down from the towers, both on the Passion façade and the Nativity façade“, you can often use the elevator in Passion tower to come down. Descending by elevator in Nativity tower is not possible.
- Of the two towers of La Sagrada Familia, the viewing platform of Passion facade is smaller then Nativity.
- Since, most tourists opt for Passion tower, the lines for the elevator are longer when compared to that for Nativity tower.
Thus my preference for Nativity Tower over Passion Tower.
1.Children under 6 cannot visit the towers of La Sagrada Familia.
2. Children between 6 and 16 years of age have to be accompanied by an adult on their visit to the towers.
3. People with functional disabilities or in wheelchairs cannot visit the Sagrada Familia towers.
The Nativity tower is dedicated to the birth of Jesus with the symbolic sunrise to the northeast. This tower was completed in 1935 under Gaudi’s direct supervision. This makes the tower on Nativity facade the more interesting of the two.
This tower is dedicated to the suffering of Christ during his crucifixion. The Passion facade was supposed to show the sins of human beings. The intricacies and detailing in Passion facade is simpler then Nativity. It faces west as a symbol for the death of Jesus Christ.
This tower is still under construction at Sagrada Familia. It is dedicated to the glory of Jesus. The Glory tower is supposed to symbolize the road to reach God going through death, final judgment and glory.
These days, you cannot come down by elevator in either of the towers. Thus, climbing the tower on Nativity Facade is better and recommended.
As we speak, the option of getting down by elevator in the passion tower has been suspended. You need to come down from both the towers by the spiral staircase. They have started the practice of closing the entry to towers if there are high winds. (They will refund the ticket price on such days).