New tower for Sagrada Familia after 140 years of construction

Barcelona’s iconic monument slowly moves towards completion
2021-12-15
/
/ New Delhi
New tower for Sagrada Familia after 140 years of construction

Sagrada Familia under construction since 1882 (Photo: Ken Cheung, Unsplash)

Sagrada Familia, an incomplete architectural marvel designed by the great Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi has witnessed the transition of Spain. It had withstood the Spanish Civil War which later became the reason why Gaudi couldn’t finish what was started by Francisco de Paula del Villar on March 19, 1882.
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This UNESCO heritage site situated in Barcelona has been under construction for more than a century, the construction started with donations from the common public and slowly progressed as leading architect Antoni Gaudi was creating an architectural beauty with a blend of Gothic and curvilinear Art Nouveau forms. With the Spanish Civil War nearing its end, the revolutionaries entered the crypt of Sagrada Familia and set fire to it. They broke their way into Gaudi’s workshop and were successful in partially destroying his original plans, drawings and plaster models.

In 1990, the project was restarted with Jordi Fauli as a member of the team responsible for the construction of the iconic Sagrada Familia since Gaudi began his work on the Basilica in 1883. Fauli has been a part of the project for more than four decades of his life and had been awaiting the completion of the famed engineering marvel.

He was only 31 years old when he joined the architectural team, same as Gaudi when the ingenious Catalan architect began his life’s greatest work in the late 19th century. Fauli in an interview with France24, a French media company, recalls his early days involved with the project, “When I arrived, only three of these columns were built and they were only 10 metres high.”

The embellished cathedral, which was designed by Gaudi will include eighteen towers upon completion, with the tallest tower reaching a height of 172m. The second-highest tower, at a height of 138m, is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was inaugurated on December 8, 2021, illuminating the gigantic 5.5-tonne star crowning the tower’s highest point.

Thousands of people attended the inaugural ceremony of the engineering marvel on Immaculate Conception Day, a key Marian feast of the Catholic Church. Fauli expressing his gratitude for being a part of this project says, “I was lucky enough to design and see the construction of the entire interior, then the sacristy and now the main towers. I would like to be here for many more years, of course, but that’s in God’s hands.”

The tower is the tallest of the nine completed so far and the first to be inaugurated since 1976. Pope Francis on the auspicious event of inauguration sent a video message to mark the day hailing the “great architect” Antoni Gaudi.

In 2019, the monument had welcomed 4.7 million visitors awarding Sagrada Familia the title of the most visited monument in Barcelona, Spain. However, with the onset of the Coivd-19 pandemic, the doors of the monument were forced shut in March 2020 and stayed closed for almost a year. This year, there were only 764,000 visitors as per official records.

This project however being of utmost importance is severely underfunded and depends majorly on the entry tickets, due to the sudden drop in the number of visitors of the goal of finishing the Basilica by 2026 marking the 100th death anniversary of Gaudi’s death has been abandoned.

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