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Barcelona's Sagrada Familia church has taken over 100 years to build, why it's worth it

The foundation was set 144 years ago and will be the second tallest religious building in the world.

Barcelona's Sagrada Familia church has taken over 100 years to build, why it's worth it
Cover Image Source: The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família is a church under construction in the Eixample district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. (Photo by James D. Morgan | Getty Images)

Some buildings are so beautiful that they make people stop in their steps. Barcelona's Sagrada Familia is one such structure. Slated for completion in 2026, the church will become the second-tallest religious building in the world. However, that is just one of many intriguing aspects of the architectural marvel that took over 100 years to build. Unlike typical projects, this stunning creation wasn't funded by the government or the church; it was built entirely by contributions from the public. It is an awe-inspiring example of intergenerational construction, per an X thread by Culture Critic.

A general view of the tourist site of the Sagrada Familia on April 25, 2024 in Barcelona, Spain. The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, otherwise known as Sagrada Família, is a church under construction in the Eixample district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It is the largest unfinished Catholic church in the world.
Image Source: A general view of the tourist site of the Sagrada Familia on April 25, 2024, in Barcelona, Spain. The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, otherwise known as Sagrada Família, is a church under construction in the Eixample district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. It is the largest unfinished Catholic church in the world.

The idea was born in 1872 when bookseller Joseph Maria Bocabella returned from Vatican City, inspired to replicate its splendor. The man spent 8 years campaigning and collecting funds to build it. He purchased the land and entrusted Francisco de Paula del Villar, an architect, with the task of creating a design inspired by the Neo-Gothic cathedrals in Europe, per Euronews Travel. However, after less than a decade of collaboration, the architect's vision diverged from the bookseller's, leading them to part ways. Bocabella wanted to onboard someone with a vision as grand as his. He aimed to create a church that would tower over St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican City.

General View Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Barcelona, Spain, Antonio Gaudi. (Photo by Quick Image/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images)
Image Source: General View Sagrada Familia Cathedral, Barcelona, Spain, Antonio Gaudi. (Photo by Quick Image/Construction Photography/Avalon/Getty Images)

In 1883, the visionary modernist Antoni Gaudi took the helm of the Sagrada Familia's construction. His design, inspired by the natural beauty and flowing lines of the Art Nouveau period, mimicked the curvatures of plants and flowers. The design includes 12 towers, each representing one of Jesus Christ's disciples. The design was complex and Gaudi was sure it would not be completed in his lifetime. Due to this reason, the architect created detailed 3D models instead of sketches so the person who took over would know exactly what to do.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - APRIL 10: A general view of 'La Sagrada Familia' on April 10, 2015 in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona's city hall has put a regulation in motion that bans large tourist groups visiting Barcelona's most popular market. Barcelona's authorities are debating how to control the number of tourist in the city as an estimated 10 million people are due to visit this year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Image Source: A general view of 'La Sagrada Familia' on April 10, 2015, in Barcelona, Spain. Barcelona's city hall has put a regulation in motion that bans large tourist groups from visiting Barcelona's most popular market. Barcelona's authorities are debating how to control the number of tourists in the city as an estimated 10 million people are due to visit this year. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Until 1914, Gaudi worked on other projects apart from the church, but later, he left everything to work on his visionary project. A few years later, he left home to focus solely on building the church. Unfortunately, only 15-25 percent of the project was completed and just one bell tower was erected when Gaudi tragically died after being hit by a tram. He looked almost unrecognizable as he had ignored all basic needs to work on the building. His funeral was held at the incomplete church and progress on the project came to a halt because of his demise.



 

Several architects worked on the church in the following years, including Francesc de Paula Quintana in 1939, Isidre Puig i Boada and Lluís Bonet i Garí in 1966, Francesc Cardoner i Blanch in 1983 and Jordi Bonet i Armengol in 1985. It faced many problems, including funding crunches, the destruction of models due to war and so on. Now, the La Sagrada Familia stands at the brink of completion 144 years after its foundation. The church will be inaugurated in 2026 on the centenary death anniversary of Antoni Gaudi, the visionary architect behind the astounding structure, as per The Guardian. The building will comprise a 172.5-meter-tall central tower dedicated to Jesus Christ. Although the building will be completed in 2026, a few decorative details and a stairway leading to the main entrance are expected to be finished by 2034, per the outlet. 



 

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