Construction of Sagrada Família, 140 years in the making, resumes after pandemic pause
Barcelona’s gargantuan cathedral won’t be completed by 2026, halting plans to honor the centenary of architect Antoni Gaudí’s death
In the making since 1882, the completion date of Barcelona’s most iconic monument, the Sagrada Família cathedral, was set for a year of undeniable symbolism: 2026, the centenary of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí’s death.
But then, of course, came the pandemic.
Last March, when the first wave of coronavirus infections spread across Spain, the basilica closed its doors to visitors. Two months later, construction works were brought to a halt, as they are mainly funded through entry tickets.
In September, the private consortium responsible for managing the site announced that the halt in construction work meant that the temple would not be finished by 2026, and therefore it would miss the much-anticipated anniversary of its creator’s death.
The construction works resumed on Monday, January 25, following eight months of virtually no progress. Officials are wary of giving new deadlines, and have their eyes set on more immediate goals.
By the end of 2021, the Sagrada Família is expected to have a new tower, named after the Virgin Mary, which will rise as high as 138 meters, making it the building’s tallest —that, until the towers dedicated to Jesus Christ and the four evangelists are completed.
So far, only 25 meters of the Virgin Mary’s tower remain to be built: the highest end, crowned with a monumental 12-point star that will be illuminated from the inside.
The tallest tower
When the construction works are over, the tallest tower, dedicated to Jesus Christ, will be 172.5 meters. The reasons are not architectural, but religious. Gaudí believed that whatever humans did, they should never aim higher than God’s own work—in other words, nature. The hill of Montjuïc, 177 meters high, set a natural limit for Gaudí’s most ambitious project.