Sometimes even the abode of God gets so magnetic that while some people devote their lives in building it, others cover miles across the world to come and just have a look at it. Antoni Gaudi’s unfinished Roman Catholic Church in Barcelona is an example of such wonder which attracts millions of people across the world to Spain. Known as the Sagrada Familia, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site which has been conferred the title of a minor basilica by Pope Benedict XVI.
It was in 1882 that the construction of the Church started on the inspiration of the catalan book seller Maria Bocabella who also founded the Asociación Espiritual de Devotos de San José. The objective was to stop the process of de-christianisation of Barcelona which was happening in the wake of industrialization. One year after the starting of the construction, in 1883 Antoni Gaudi took over the project as the lead architect. Pre Gaudi, the design of the Sagrada Familia was based on a Gothic style. After Gaudi took up the project he changed it to a neo Gothic style by including modern changes to the original plan.
From then, Gaudi dedicated more than half of his life to create his masterpiece only quarter of which got completed till his death in 1926. While one of the reasons of the delay is Gaudi’s constant innovation with the design, the other causes were that the fund for the construction of the Sagrada Familia came by means of donation. The Spanish Civil war also played a major part in delaying the progress of the Sagrada. While the construction of the Sagrada Familia passed the half way point in 2010, there still remain a number of challenges in the construction which have further delayed the completion time to the year 2026.
In the recent times the Sagrada Familia was a topic of debate amongst the people of Barcelona as the proposal of building an underground tunnel for the high speed rail connection between Spain and France threatened the stability of the church.
In the year 2010 an organ has been installed in the church so that it can be used for religious services. The consecration was done by Pope Benedict XVI which saw about 50,000 people attending the mass outside the basilica. The Sagrada Familia faced further obstructions when in 2011 a fire broke in the sacristy and damaged it alongside compelling the tourists and workers to evacuate the church.
As per Guadi last vision, the plan of the Sagrada Familia is such that it should hold 13,000 people and have eighteen towers. Alongside, it should also have three facades out of which the third one is under construction now.
While visiting the Sagrada you can see the burial crypt of Gaudi and the museum dedicated to him. You can also visit the towers which give a panoramic view of Barcelona. It does not ask for money and gives access through lift and spiral staircase.