Sagrada Família model allows visually impaired people to discover Virgin Mary tower
Cardinal says "everyone has the right to be welcomed" and enjoy the basilica as fully as possible
People who are blind or visually impaired will now be able to appreciate the intricate details of the Sagrada Família's tower of the Virgin Mary after a new tactile model was unveiled at the basilica in Barcelona on Tuesday.
The 1:25 scale model installed in the Gaudí and Nature Space accentuates the relief of the tower and the textures of the various materials it is made of.
The aim is to enable people who are visually impaired to get to know and experience the architectural features of the tower.
The project was funded by the ONCE Foundation (National Organization of Spanish Blind People) and then gifted to the basilica.
The Cardinal Archbishop of Barcelona, Joan Josep Omella, said that everyone "has the right to be welcomed" to the Sagrada Família and enjoy their visit as fully as possible.
One of the first people to get to touch the new model was head of social services at ONCE Catalunya, Dolors Luna.
"Being able to touch each part gives me information that otherwise would be impossible for me to reach," she said.
"Exhibitions must be designed for the whole population: the elderly, young children, people with disabilities," Luna said, adding that "only like that will they be fully accessible."
Director general of the ONCE Foundation, José Luis Martínez Donoso, said that inclusion must be present in "all scenarios: leisure, sports and worship too."
The organization intends to continue the project well beyond this single tower.
"In the future we will have a complete replica of the Sagrada Família in this museum," Donoso said.
The tower's 12-point star
Barcelona's skyline gained a brand new addition when the 12-point star atop the tower of the Virgin Mary was lit up for the very first time on December 8, 2021.
The 5.5-tonne ornament shines above what will be the basilica's second-tallest tower when the building is completed, although the tallest, which will be dedicated to Jesus Christ, has not been built yet.
The star spans 7.5 metres and is made out of textured glass and stainless steel, and sits on top of the 138-metre tall tower of the Virgin Mary that is decorated with some 800 windows.
The Sagrada Família is of course an icon of Barcelona. Tourists flock to Antoni Gaudí's basilica in their millions every year, but did you know not everyone in Barcelona is so enamored with it?
Have a listen to the podcast below to learn more about the building's history and architecture, as well as the controversies it has generated.