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The Endless Transformation of Sagrada Familia – Is There Finally an End in Sight?

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After 144 years of construction, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is nearing completion. This architectural marvel, conceived by Antoni Gaudi, has become a symbol of Barcelona’s creative spirit. Despite Gaudi’s death in 1926, his visionary design continues to guide the ongoing work. This landmark has evolved from its groundbreaking in 1882 into one of the city’s most visited attractions, blending artistic design with spiritual symbolism.

A Landmark in the Making

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Image Credit: Pexels / Karolina Grabowska

Antoni Gaudi, an architect from Catalan, Spain, designed the Sagrada Familia. His work can be seen all over Barcelona; this is perhaps his most famous.

An Eternal Connection

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Image Credit: Pexels / mali maeder

Gaudi died in 1926, and the centenary of his death may well coincide with the completion of his incredible design. He is, in fact, already buried in an underground tomb in the building. 

Breaking Ground

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Kichigin

Construction on the site began in 1882. Gaudi always knew that construction would likely take more than a lifetime; early on, he built a school for the builders’ children. 

A Bold Plan

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Image Credit: Pexels / Son Tung Tran

The design for the Sagrada Familia includes a 170m central tower, 18 spires, and an interior intended to look like a forest. Gaudi was famously influenced by nature in much of his work. 

A Long Term Build

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Media_works

While the build was never going to be quick or easy, many significant events have interrupted its progress. These include Gaudi’s death, World Wars I and II, the Spanish Civil War, and, recently, COVID.

Completion in Sight

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Image Credit: Pexels / Mehmet Turgut Kirkgoz

The most recent COVID-related delays mean that the near-certain completion date of 2026 is now less concrete. However, we can expect the final result in the next few years.

Open to Visitors

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / View Apart

Despite being at least two years from completion, the Sagrada Familia has been open to visitors for many years already – since 1994.

A Popular Site

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / TK Kurikawa

The Sagrada Familia is the most visited tourist attraction in Barcelona. It receives a staggering 3,000,000 visitors a year. Not bad for a building site!

Finally Finished

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Prostock-studio

There isn’t an official date for completion yet, but barcelona-tickets.com reports that it will “theoretically” still be in 2026. With no official announcements yet on sagradafamilia.org, we can only guess what kind of grand opening there might be when the time comes.

A Multi-Generational Project

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Thunderstock

Since construction began in 1882, five generations of Barcelonians have watched or participated in the epic project. It has provided many jobs for construction industry employees over the years.

A Controversial Step

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Summit Art Creations

The construction scheduled to end in 2026 is not the end of the story. Theguardian.com reports that other details, including a two-city block staircase, will not be finished until 2034. The stairway to the main entrance will require the removal of around 1,000 families and businesses, so it is not without significant controversy.

Finishing Touches

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Fernando M. Elkspera

It seems premature to talk about the final steps when there are still two years to go, but naturally, excitement builds after 142 years. The recent works include the impressive addition of a 5.5-tonne star, measuring 7 meters across.

A Long Build

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / zhu difeng

Having begun in 1882, the building is currently in its 142nd year. While this may sound record-breaking, it pales compared to the 2,000-year construction time for both The Great Wall of China and Stone Henge.

Not The Only One

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Jose HERNANDEZ Camera 51

Many more “modern” construction projects that took staggeringly long times are also religious buildings. The Cologne Cathedral technically took over 600 years, and Notre Dame could be said to have been under construction for 200 years, if not longer, depending on your view of “finished.”

A Cathedral No More

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Marco Iacobucci Epp

The Sagrada Familia was intended to be a cathedral. However, Pope Benedict XVI consecrated it in 2010, making it a minor basilica instead.

The Builders’ Touch

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Image Credit: Pexels / Maria Orlova

It is easy to believe that everyone involved at the project’s start knew it would be something significant. Perhaps this explains why the faces embedded in the stone are sculpted from some of the builders’ death masks, immortalizing them and their work.

UNESCO

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / Bumble Dee

UNESCO recognizes seven properties, known collectively as the “Works of Antoni Gaudi,” as having “Outstanding Universal Value.” This includes the Sagrada Familia, which has been on the World Heritage List since 2005.

A Record-Breaking Structure

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Image Credit: Pexels / Aleksandar Pasaric

When it is complete, the Sagrada Familia will be the tallest religious building in Europe, reaching 172.5m. It will take the title from Ulm Minster in Germany, at 161.53m.

Not Gaudi’s Only Masterpiece

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / nixki

Gaudi has left an impressive legacy in Barcelona, notwithstanding the currently incomplete Sagrada Familia. The Parque Guell is a beautiful mosaic park; the unconventional Casas Milá and Battló are well worth a visit.

Gaudi’s Legacy

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Image Credit: Shutterstock / ColorMaker

While the thought-provoking buildings left by Gaudi are an impressive legacy, Gaudi never had children. So, there are no direct descendants to appreciate him now. However, he had three siblings, at least one of whom had children, so maybe some great-great nephews or nieces admire his work today. 

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The post The Endless Transformation of Sagrada Familia – Is There Finally an End in Sight? republished on Passing Thru with permission from The Green Voyage.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / dimbar76.

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