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Spain: Unfinished Gaudi church gets building permit after 137 years

China Daily | Updated: 2019-06-10 08:14

View of the Sagrada Familia cathedral, a Roman Catholic basilica in Barcelona, Spain. Since 1882 it has been built according to the designs of the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. FRANK RUMPENHORST/DPA

BARCELONA, Spain - Property owners have a new yardstick by way of Spain for measuring frustration over building permit requests they suspect got lost in a local government bureaucracy. 

Barcelona City Hall finally has issued a building permit for the unfinished church designed by architect Antoni Gaudi 137 years after construction started on La Sagrada Familia Basilica.

The city said on Friday it granted the current builders a license that is valid through 2026. The builders think that will be enough time to finish raising the landmark Roman Catholic church's central towers.

The basilica's first stone was laid in 1882, but Barcelona officials said there was no record showing a building permit first requested in 1885 ever was granted or rejected.

Barcelona officials said the city will be paid 4.6 million euros ($5.2 million) in fees under an agreement negotiated with a foundation devoted to completing and preserving La Sagrada Familia.

The agreement between the city and the foundation puts an end to "a historical anomaly in our city", Barcelona official Janet Sanz.

More than 4.5 million visitors pay 17-38 euros each to tour the cathedral-sized church every year. The Barcelona government estimates 20 million tourists stand outside to marvel at the bell towers; Gaudi envisioned 12, one for each of Christ's disciples, but they all may never get built.

Work on one of the central towers expected to get done while the building permit is valid will make La Sagrada Familia the tallest religious structure in Europe at 172.5 meters tall, according to the builders.

Barcelona has the largest concentration of buildings designed by Gaudi, whose bold modernist aesthetic still inspires architects. A fervent Catholic, he dedicated much of his professional life to Sagrada Familia, for which he incorporated elements of Christian symbolism along with the organic forms he often employed.

Gaudi died in 1926 after being struck by a trolley when just one facade was complete. He is buried in the church crypt.

Ongoing construction work is based on the architect's plaster models, and photos and publications of his original drawings, which were destroyed in a 1930s fire, according to the Sagrada Familia foundation.

Associated Press

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