One of the world’s most famous cathedrals may be 140 years old, but its construction is still underway. Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia (Sacred Family) will be finally completed within three years.
A milestone was recently reached with the topping of four towers commemorating the authors of the four Gospels, also known as the four evangelists. The towers are each topped with sculptural pieces representing each one of the evangelists – a man for Matthew; a lion for Mark; an ox for Luke; and an eagle for John.
Architect Antoni Gaudi’s grand design for the church included 18 spindle-shaped towers, each dedicated to a different biblical figure — the 12 apostles, the four evangelists, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus Christ.
With the Virgin Mary tower inaugurated last December and the four evangelists’ towers set to be inaugurated next month, the last remaining tower, which is the tallest at the very centre of the structure and dedicated to Jesus, is planned to finish construction in 2026 which coincides with the centenary of Antoni Gaudi’s death. He is buried in the crypt of the cathedral.
The ambitious project incorporating elements of Modernism, Art Nouveau, and Gothic Revival, has been under construction since 1882, yet it still attracts millions of visitors every year. The first completed part of the structure, the Nativity Façade, which also bears the most direct Gaudi influence, has gained UNESCO World Heritage status, along with six other buildings designed by Gaudi in Barcelona.
Architecture website Arch Daily reports: “Construction of the Sagrada Familia has been controversial and has faced prolonged delays. As part of Gaudi’s drawings and designs for the church were lost following his death in 1926, some critics argued that the architects who took over struggled to adhere to Gaudi’s vision. Nevertheless, the unfinished state of the building added to its enduring appeal, as the Sagrada Familia represents arguably the most famous unfinished building in the world.”
It took until 2019 or 137 years before the famous monument was granted a building permit. The site agreed to pay A$65 million to city authorities as a penalty, with the tax to be used to improve public transportation in the surrounding area.