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The unfinished Sagrada Familia basilica comes closer to completion

Sagrada Familia

Ruslan Kalnitsky | Shutterstock

Zelda Caldwell - published on 02/04/21

More than 138 years after construction on the basilica began, workers hope to complete the Tower of the Virgin Mary.

The Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona has been a work in progress since the first construction began in 1883. The cranes and scaffolding that surround the magnificent church are a familiar sight to several generations, and serve as a reminder that visionary architect Antoni Gaudí’s dream is very much alive.

Since Gaudí’s death in a tram accident in 1926, architects have set about bringing the devout Catholic’s dream to completion, but have been beset by numerous obstacles.During the Spanish Civil War, many of Gaudí’s plans and photographs and plaster models were destroyed, and funding issues have plagued the project in the decades since.

Completion of Tower of Virgin Mary in 2021

Now, according to a report by ACI Prensa, by the end of 2021 workers hope to finally complete the Tower of the Virgin Mary by topping it with a shining 12-pointed star. At 450-feet-tall, the tower will be the second-tallest tower in the basilica, next to the Tower of Jesus Christ.

The Sagrada Familia Basilica has produced a video (see below), illustrating plans for the completion of the Tower of the Virgin Mary, which stands next to the Tower of Jesus Christ that is surrounded by the four towers of the Evangelists.

The Sagrada Familia basilica is expected to be completed in 2026, 100 years after Gaudí’s death.

Construction of the Sagrada Familia basilica: A timeline

Here is a timeline of events involved in the construction of the basilica, provided by the Sagrada Familia website:

1882: Project designed by Francisco de Paula del Villar.

1883: Antoni Gaudí takes over the project.

1885: Chapel of Saint Joseph inaugurated in the crypt and first Masses held.

1891: Work begins on the Nativity façade.

1925: Saint Barnabas bell tower on the Nativity façade is completed.

1926: Gaudí dies and his disciple Domènec Sugranyes takes over the project.

1936: Plans and plaster models are destroyed during the Spanish Civil War.

1939: Francesc de Paula Quintana takes over site management, which is able to go on thanks to the material that could be saved from Gaudí’s workshop and that was reconstructed from published plans and photographs.

1952: Staircase on the Nativity façade is built, and the façade is lit up for the first time.

1954: Foundation laid for the Passion façade.

1958: On March 19, the feast of Saint Joseph, a sculpture group representing the Holy Family is put in place, created by Jaume Busquets.

1966: Francesc de Paula Quintana dies and Isidre Puig i Boada and Lluís Bonet i Garí take over.

1977: Bell towers on the Passion façade completed.

1978: Construction begins on the façades on the side naves.

1986: Work began on the foundations for all the naves, the columns, vaults and façades on the main nave, transepts, crossing and apse. The works were completed in 2010.

2010: On November 7, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the Basilica for religious worship and designated it a minor basilica.

2012: Jordi Faulí takes over from Jordi Bonet as head architect and site manager for the works on the Church of the Sagrada Família, which carry on according to Antoni Gaudí’s plans.

2016: Construction begins on the towers of the Evangelists, the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ.

2018: The Cross is placed on top of the pediment of the Passion façade.

2019: The first stone panels arrive for the tower of Jesus Christ, the tower of the Evangelists and the tower of the Virgin Mary, and they start to take shape.

2020: The tower of Jesus Christ and the tower of the Virgin Mary surpass the height of the towers on the Passion and Nativity façades.

March 2020: The Junta Constructora de la Sagrada Família stops construction due to the COVID-19 healthcare emergency.

October 2020: Work resumes, focusing on completing the tower of the Virgin Mary, with all the levels of panels in place and only the elements of the 25-meter pinnacle remaining, which will be crowned with a shining twelve-pointed star.

2021: All efforts focus on finishing the tower of the Virgin Mary, the Basilica’s second tallest at 138 meters.


Sagrada Familia

Read more:
5 Amazing facts about Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia church


Antonio Gaudí

Read more:
Watch this beautiful film about Gaudí, the architect of Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia

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