Barcelona's Sagrada Familia, a 128-year-old building site

7th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Architect Antoni Gaudi's Sagrada Familia has been under construction for 128 years and has at least another 15 years of work to go.

Here are the key facts about the lavishly ornate building in central Barcelona, consecrated Sunday as a Basilica:


The foundation stone was laid March 19, 1882 and building work is expected to go on for at least another 15 years. About 200 people are working on the project.


There are now eight towers, four on each facade of the Sagrada Familia. When Gaudi's plans are completed, it will have 18 towers: 12 for the apostles, four for the evangelists and one each for Mary and Jesus. Each tower's height varies according to its symbolic importance.


The first architect was Francisco de Paula del Villar y Lozano who planned a neo-Gothic church but got into a disagreement with the promoters and had to hand over to Gaudi in 1883. Gaudi created new, more ambitious plans after the project received a large anonymous donation.


Born June 25, 1852, in Reus, the Catalan architect devoted his time to the Sagrada Familia after 1914. "I will grow old but others will come after me," he said. Gaudi was killed in a tram accident on June 10, 1926 and buried in the Carmen Chapel of the Sagrada Familia's crypt.


At the outbreak of the Spanish civil war in July 1936, "revolutionaries" set fire to the crypt, destroying or damaging the original plans, drawings and photographs, according to the building's official web site, which says the edifice has nevertheless always respected the aim of Gaudi's original design.


The building is known as the Temple Expiatori de La Sagrada Familia, meaning that it is financed entirely by donations and income from private sources such as tourist tickets. It is one of Spain's biggest tourist draws, attracting about 2.5 million visitors a year.


Pope Benedict consecrated the Sagrada Familia on Sunday November 7, transforming it into a basilica. The main nave is now open for daily mass, until now held in the crypt where Gaudi's remains lie.

Sources: -

- Encylopaedia Britannica

- Sagrada Familia architect Jordi Fauli

© 2010 AFP

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