The Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart (in Catalan, Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor) is a minor basilica located on top of the Tibidabo mountain, about eight kilometers from the historic center of Barcelona. And as you can tell from the name, the work was dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus – just like the Sacré-Coeur Basilica in Paris!
Constructed in the first half of the 20th century, the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart combines elements of Neo-Gothic, Neo-Romanesque, and Neo-Byzantine architecture. And despite being designed by the Catalan architect Enric Sagnier, this Catholic church was completed by his son Josep Maria Sagnier!
So, do you want to know How To Visit The Expiatory Church Of The Sacred Heart In 2023? Keep reading!
No time to read now? Pin it for later!
- Brief History of the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart
- How to Get to the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart
- What to See at the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart
- More Posts about Spain
- More Posts about Religious Temples
- What Photography Gear Do I Use?
Brief History of the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart
At the end of the 19th century, the city of Barcelona hosted the Universal Exhibition of 1888. And, around that time, the idea arose of building a Catholic church on the top of the Tibidabo mountain. However, the project was eventually delayed until 1902, the year the foundation stone of the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart was laid.
The first structure to be built was the crypt, whose works were completed in 1911. The main church took more than three decades to take shape: from 1915 to 1951. After being consecrated the following year, the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart was finally elevated to a minor basilica by Pope John XXIII, in 1961.
How to Get to the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart
To get to the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart from the historic center of Barcelona, you must go to one of these three main train stations in the city first: Pl. Catalunya, Provença, or Gràcia. Here, take the S1 or S2 line of the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya, towards Terrassa Nacions Unides or Sabadell Parc Nord (respectively).
The stop where you should get off is called Peu del Funicular, which has a direct connection to the funicular at the Vallvidrera Inferior station. This way, you can climb the Tibidabo mountain in a few minutes! And once you arrive at Vallvidrera Superior, take bus number 111 for the last three kilometers of the trip.
TIP: If you buy the Barcelona Card, don’t forget that you have all these trips in public transportation (metro, train, funicular, and bus) included in the pass price!
Opening Hours & Ticket Prices
The Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart is open every day, but with different hours depending on the time of year: from 11 am to 6 pm (from November to February), from 11 am to 7 pm (from March to May, and in October), or from 11 am to 8 pm (from June to September).
Although the entrance to the crypt and the basilica of the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart is free, it’s necessary to pay €4 to go up/down in an elevator, which gives access to the panoramic terrace and the central tower. At the time I visited the church, this ticket was bought at a vending machine, which only accepted cash!
What to See at the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart
The Crypt of the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart is probably the third best-known crypt in Barcelona, after the Crypt of the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia and the Crypt of Colònia Güell (in Santa Coloma de Cervelló) – both of which were designed by Antoni Gaudí.
From the outside, the Crypt of the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart looks like a Romanesque stone fortress, with an austere appearance and topped by battlements and turrets. At the same time, the façade is an ode to Catalan modernism, with a mosaic depicting an allegory of the devotion of Spain (made by the Bru Workshops) and a tympanum richly decorated with biblical figures (sculpted by Alfons Juyol i Bach).
Inside, the neo-Byzantine style stands out, combined with Gothic and classical elements. Comprising five naves with semicircular apses, the Crypt of the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart is almost entirely lined with polychrome alabaster. The exception is the various stained glass panels and mosaics, which depict biblical episodes related to the themes of the different sections.
To go up to the Basilica of the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart, you have to choose one of the two monumental staircases that go around the Crypt. Once at the top, you’ll find one of the many panoramic terraces and balconies of the Tibidabo mountain and, of course, the imposing façade of this Catholic church.
Erected in neo-Gothic style, the Basilica of the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart has a square plan and five octagonal domes, the largest (in the center) being crowned by a gilded bronze statue of Christ the Redeemer. The image that gives the monument its name was conceived by Josep Miret in 1950, after the original work by Frederic Marès was destroyed in 1936, at the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.
The interior of the Basilica is much more modest than that of the Crypt, but it’s still stunning. Of all the sculptural set that adorns the space, the piece that stands out the most is the Crucifix by Joan Puigdollers, on the high altar. In addition, it’s impossible to ignore the dozens of stained glass and rose windows, which fill the temple with light and color!
When you reach the first floor of the Terrace of the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart, you’ll come across a series of stone statues scattered around the four surrounding domes. Now, these are the Twelve Apostles and the sculptures were also created by Josep Miret.
According to a sign posted on the site, this panoramic terrace is at an altitude of 541.80 meters above sea level – which is why you have endless views of the Mediterranean Sea (if the weather permits)! Other than that, you can take the opportunity to admire the other buildings, structures, and enclosures on the Tibidabo mountain.
Did you know that it was this small religious temple in the neo-gothic style that led to the foundation of a Catholic sanctuary on the Tibidabo mountain?
Inaugurated on July 3rd, 1886, the Primitive Hermitage of Tibidabo marked the highest point of this hill at that time, sixteen years before the construction of what we today know as the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart began.
Nowadays, the Primitive Hermitage is completely overshadowed by the impressive Basilica, located on the left side of it.
Even so, it’s curious to see how much the landscape has changed in the last century, as shown by an old photograph preserved inside!
Other Points of Interest in Tibidabo
Most travelers (myself included) visit the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart for the impressive views over the city of Barcelona. However, the Tibidabo mountain is mainly known for the famous Parc d’Atraccions Tibidabo, the oldest amusement park in Spain and one of the oldest in Europe!
Inaugurated on October 29th, 1901, the Parc d’Atraccions Tibidabo still concentrates a large number of popular attractions from the first half of the 20th century, such as the Ferris wheel, the carousel, the haunted house, the bumper cars, the trampolines, and various types of roller coasters.
Other points of interest visible from the panoramic terraces of the Expiatory Church of the Sacred Heart are the Torre de les Aigües de Dos Rius (an old industrial building used for the supply and storage of drinking water) and the Torre de Collserola (a communications tower, whose antenna is 288.4 meters high).
Share this blog post on your social media!