The Sagrada Família in Barcelona is neither the largest church in Spain nor does it attract the most visitors, yet it is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating. Construction first started in 1883 and is still ongoing. Antoni Gaudí, the most celebrated architect in Barcelona, devoted his entire life and work to this expiatory temple – a splendid example of Catalonia’s Gothic religious architecture. The church is expected to be completed in the foreseeable future, but progress depends on donations and tourist visits, so the exact date is unknown.
In contrast to the Sagrada Família, most of Spain's great religious monuments are built in Romanesque style. The cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is a superb example of this style, although it does also have a Baroque façade which was added on at a later date. Purists will find the most typically Romanesque monuments in Zamora. In this area, Romanesque routes leading from one church to another take travellers through some spectacular scenery, such as the Vall de Boí, a steep-sided valley in the Catalan Pyrenees. The area boasts the densest concentration of Romanesque architecture in Europe and has been designated a World Heritage Site.
If Romanesque architecture doesn’t appeal to you, there are other churches built in the Gothic style, such as the cathedrals in Leon and Burgos. The latter has also been designated a World Heritage site. Palma Cathedral in Majorca, which features a main altar with a baldachin designed by Gaudi, is the only cathedral built next to the sea. And who can forget the most popular cathedral in Spain, Seville Cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world.
But remember, when visiting cathedrals, remember to respect the dress code (no bare legs or shoulders) and abide by the rules (no smoking or drinking).