Friday, January 21

Spain | The Sagrada Familia in Barcelona inaugurates the tallest tower built in the basilica

Lhe Sagrada Familia de Barcelona is moving slowly towards its completion.

This Wednesday the second tower is inaugurated at an altitude of 138 meters, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, with the illumination of the 5.5-ton star. It is the tallest of the nine completed towers and the first to be inaugurated since 1976.

138 years have passed since Antonio Gaudí started it; Jordi Faulí is the seventh chief architect of the basilica.

62 years old, he was only 31 when he joined the team of architects in 1990, the same age Gaudí was when the innovative Catalan architect began to build his greatest work at the end of the 19th century, a project that would take up forty years of life.

UNESCO has only granted World Heritage status to the crypt of the Sagrada Familia and one of its facades, both built during Gaudí’s lifetime since plans and models were destroyed during the Civil War.

But Faulí insists that the project is faithful to what Gaudí planned.

When completed, the designed cathedral will have 18 spiers, the tallest of which will reach 172 meters in height.

The decrease in tourists due to the pandemic has broken the source of financing and the objective of finishing the basilica in 2026 to commemorate the centenary of Gaudí’s death has been abandoned.

In 2019, the Sagrada Familia received 4.7 million visitors, which made it the most visited monument in Barcelona.

But it was forced to close in March 2020 by the Covid-19 pandemic, remaining its doors closed for almost a year.

This year, there have barely been 764,000 visitors, according to municipal data.

And as the tickets are the main source of financing for the works in progress, the objective of finishing the basilica in 2026 to commemorate the centenary of the death of Gaudí – who was run over by a tram – has been abandoned.

“We cannot give any estimate of when it will be completed because we do not know how the number of visitors will recover in the coming years,” explains Faulí.

It is by no means the first time that Gaudí’s masterpiece has faced such problems.

During the Spanish Civil War, in the late 1930s, work stopped and many of Gaudí’s plans and models were destroyed.

For critics, this great loss causes them not to consider what was later built as the work of Gaudí, despite the investigations carried out by his successors.

Appointed chief architect of the project in 2012, Faulí led a team of 27 architects and more than 100 builders.

Today there are five architects and about 16 builders working to finish the Sagrada Familia.

The construction of such a large monument, which attracts large numbers of visitors, is not well received by everyone, as some argue that the hordes of visiting tourists are destroying the area.

Many are also opposed to plans to build a massive staircase leading to the main entrance, the construction of which will involve the demolition of several buildings, forcing hundreds of people to relocate.

“My life is here and they want to kick me out,” says a sign on a balcony near the Sagrada Familia.

Faulí assures that he understands their concerns and that he wants to find “just solutions” through dialogue.

What if you could ask Gaudí a question? Faulí stops to reflect for a moment.

“I would ask him about his underlying intentions and what feelings he wanted to communicate through his architecture.”

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