Gaudi's Sagrada Família enters final stage of construction


The Sagrada Família basilica has entered its final stage of construction, over 100 years since its foundation stone was laid and 90 years after its designer Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi died.

Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi
A visualisation showing the Sagrada Família as it might look once the spires have been added

Six new towers will be added to the Roman Catholic basilica in Barcelona, completing work that was begun by Gaudi in 1882. The tallest of the six spires, the Tower of Jesus Christ will measure over 172 metres and make the Sagrada Família the tallest religious building in Europe.

Chief architect Jordi Fauli said the structure is on track to complete in 2026 to coincide with the centenary of Gaudi's death.

"The central tower of 172.5 meters will make it the tallest cathedral in Europe, because the tallest tower in Europe is Ulm, at 162 meters," Fauli told press during a conference in Barcelona on 21 October.

However, the architect said elements of decoration could take a further four to six years to finish. "It's difficult to predict but we can say that it will be completed by 2030, 2032," he said.

Only one facade of the basilica was finished when Gaudi died in a trolley accident in 1926, and until 15 years ago the structure was missing part of its roof. The building is now in its 133th year and is approximately 70 per cent finished.

Once complete, it will feature eighteen towers dedicated to religious figures including the Virgin Mary and the four evangelists – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Their varying heights are designed to reflect their hierarchy.

Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudi
The Sagrada Família is around 70 per cent complete, with six new towers due to be added by 2026

The tallest of the six spires, the Tower of Jesus Christ, will be topped by a cross and rise directly above a chamber that was designed to support its weight and funnel sunlight into the church.

Work has just completed on the chamber, which is located 60 metres above the floor of the church and gives visitors greater proximity to the building's brightly coloured stained-glass windows and ornamental arched ceilings.

Intricately carved tree-like columns support the tall ceilings, while the church's highly decorated outer facades depict the life and teachings of Jesus.

The Sagrada Familia Foundation released an animation of the building under different stages of construction in 2013.

The project's annual construction budget of €25 million (£18 million) is supplemented by visitor entrance frees, which range between €15-20 (£10-15).

Earlier this year, it was announced that a chapel originally designed by Antoni Gaudí for the Sagrada Família would be constructed in Chile. It is expected to be the architect's first completed project outside Spain.

  • 竜皐一

    I do not think that this smooth architecture is something that Gaudi has ever aimed at for the Sagrada Familia.

    • amsam

      Certainly you would know better than the people who have devoted their professional lives to studying and implementing his plans.

      • Tyrone Cobcroft

        Hear hear.

      • 竜皐一

        As if you know it!

        • amsam

          Nope, and that’s why I’m assuming they know what they’re doing.

  • Guest

    What a hotchpotch it has become. My focus stays on his sublime Casa Mila, one of the world’s true unadulterated greats.

  • bulip1

    The visualisation above shows how the cathedral will look like when the last four of the twelve belltowers are finished. The church will have six taller spires as well, including the 172m main tower. None of them are picured here, even though visualisations do exist.

  • Edx

    What a privilege it will be to see it finally completed.

  • Bob

    Besides the fact that it’s a hideous monstrosity, it’s also a gigantic waste of resources that could be better used elsewhere in a country on the verge of financial implosion.

    • Eddie Verstegen

      It’s paid for by visitors.

    • schmoj

      It’s in Spain, not the USA.

  • Eddie Verstegen

    If you were to look into the facts about it, you may find it very interesting. Gaudi was an amazing man way ahead of his time. Also, it is paid for by visitors not the local government.

  • Thomas Aquinas

    This church is the inverse of Modernist reductionism – religiously inspired maximalism, or the “via affirmativa.” Maximalism seems to be a far more appropriate aesthetic in designing a church for public worship of the almighty and infinite God of Creation than the “via negativa”. And it’s created a wondrous church.

    • branch155

      Well said. It is majestic and awe-inspiring.