Barcelona’s Iconic Sagrada Familia Nears Completion

The Sagrada Familia building has long been a symbol of Barcelona’s rich history and architectural prowess. The iconic structure stands famously unfinished, having first broke ground in 1882, yet last week it took one step closer towards completion.

Designed by the late Architect, Antoni Gaudí, the Sagrada Familia is designed to comprise 18 lofty towers. Each tower represents a biblical figure: the 12 apostles, the four evangelists, the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ.

The final sculpture pieces were placed atop the remaining evangelist towers last week. These included a human figure representing Matthew the Evangelist, and an eagle for John the Evangelist.

Last year, the other two evangelist towers of Mark and Luke were crowned with a lion and an ox, respectively, meaning all four are now complete and stand 135 metres over the city of Barcelona.

A sprawling 12-pointed star was placed on top of the tower of Virgin Mary at the end of 2021.

The sixth and final tower, representing Jesus Christ, is due to be completed in 2026. This central structure will stand 172.5 metres tall, surrounded by the four evangelist towers.

100 Years On

Significantly, the completion of the Sagrada Familia marks the 100th anniversary of Gaudí’s death. In 1926, Gaudí was laid to rest in the church’s crypts, and at that time only 10-15% of the project had been built. In fact, 40% of the building will be built in the final decade, between 2016 and 2026.

Construction of the Sagrada Familia hit a wall in the late 1930s as a result of the Spanish Civil War. During this period, many designs and models were destroyed.

As a site of historical, cultural and religious significance, the building was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Further, the church was consecrated for religious worship in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI. It is no wonder, then, that the progress of Sagrada Familia’s construction is a hot topic in Europe.

Interestingly, in 2016, it was discovered that the building had never been granted planning permission. This meant construction had been illegal up to 2019, when the building permit was finally issued.

Celebrating Progress

A celebratory mass is due to be held next month on November 12th to mark the completion of the four evangelist towers. Each tower will be illuminated and continue to shine down on Barcelona throughout the Christmas period, adding something special to this year’s festivities.

Once completed, the Sagrada Familia will overtake the Ulm Minster in Germany as the world’s tallest church, consolidating Barcelona’s standing as a city of cultural significance.

Almost 3.8 million people visited the Sagrada Familia in 2022. Millions more travelled to the city and likely glimpsed the church from afar, in all its glory. With these new developments to the structure, and completion in sight, the Sagrada Familia will no doubt continue to draw even larger crowds of enthralled visitors in the coming years.

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