How Long Did The Sagrada Familia Take To Build

The Sagrada Família is an iconic work of religious architecture located in Barcelona, Spain. It is an unfinished basilica church designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí and is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the city. Since its construction began in 1882, the Sagrada Família has been a work in progress that is expected to be completed in the mid 2030’s. It has been under construction for over 130 years and its completion date is still more than 10 years away – but why has this church taken so long to build?

To answer this question, one needs to consider both the sheer length of time it takes to create a complex building like the Sagrada Família, as well as Gaudí’s unique and organic approach to design. The project received financial support from the Catalan government in 1895 and the foundation stone was laid in 1905. Since then, the project has developed with changing technologies, as well as the changing needs and desires of Barcelona’s citizens. Originally, Gaudí was the only architect working on the project, but in the early 21st century, other architects and engineers were added to the team to help finish the church faster. The project still requires more engineers, artists, and builders to complete the majority of the work.

The Sagrada Família’s construction is a complicated and lengthy process due to its intricate and detailed design. It was built with a focus on Gothic and Art Nouveau styles, but with a distinctly modern twist. Gaudí masterfully crafted the church to be a living structure, with natural elements integrated into the building’s design. The elongated spires, curved walls, and intricate stained glass windows make the Sagrada Família a captivating sight. Each element of the design is calculated, crafted and placed with precision.

Speaking to Artnet News, Diogo Lopes da Silva, an assistant professor of architecture at the University of Coimbra, explained that “you can compare Gaudi’s approach to religious architecture to spiritual practices, such as meditation, which require long periods of time to achieve fruition.” This explains why the project takes so long to finish – Gaudí was not simply building a church, he was creating an iconic masterpiece that had to be sculpted, crafted and transformed before it could be completed.

From the outside, it’s clear to see why the Sagrada Família is taking so many years to build, but there are more complex factors at play. In the 21st century, modern construction techniques have allowed architects to interpret Gaudí’s innovative designs more quickly. This is due to the development of computer-aided design and three-dimensional printing technology. Despite these advancements, the project is still thought to take a minimum of 10 more years to complete.

Of course, the ongoing pandemic has also affected the completion date of the Sagrada Família. In 2020, the construction project was suspended due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. Josep Maria Subirachs, the sculptor in charge of restoring part of the project since 1985, has stated that “the pandemic has put up to a year on each of the four remaining facades of the Cathedral.”

Financing

The Sagrada Família is a publicly-funded project and is supported by the foundation Fundación de la Sagrada Família, which was created in 2010. The foundation’s main aim is to raise funds to help with the cathedral’s completion. As well as this, a private company, Sagrada Família S.L., has been set up to help manage the building project. This company works in collaboration with the local government to ensure the project’s financial sustainability. To date, the estimated cost of the project is €6 billion and the Spanish government is responsible for covering around €100 million of the total costs.

The Fundación’s executive director, José Ignacio Polo, told Yahoo News in 2019 that, “the cathedral’s financial situation is stable and the project is financially sound. We are confident that the Sagrada Família will be completed by 2026.” This could be realistic if no further setbacks are encountered. However, only time will tell if this is achievable.

Legacy

When the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Spain was completed over 900 years ago, it took 166 years to finish. With this in mind, the lengthy construction of the Sagrada Família should come as no surprise. While the project’s completion date seems set to be changed, one thing is certain – the Sagrada Família is an architectural marvel and testament to human ingenuity and creativity. Even after all these years, the church continues to astound visitors around the world.

The Sagrada Família is part of Barcelona’s identity and heritage, proof of Gaudi’s genius and one of the most outstanding examples of religious architecture in the world. Its awe-inspiring presence cannot be denied, and there are few works of architecture that can match its grandiose beauty and unique design. Once completed, the Sagrada Família will have taken over 150 years to build, but the wait and effort will have been worth it.

Architectural Design

The Sagrada Família is a basilica with three large naves and four apses, and its innovative design encompasses complex and unconventional elements. These include stained glass windows, geometric terraces, an abundance of sculptures and ornamentation and impressive spires, which stand at a staggering 170 meters high. The building is a combination of modern, classical and neo-Gothic styles, with a facade made up of three style-specific towers and intricate geometric patterns.

Gaudí envisioned the Sagrada Família as a ‘living’ structure and his extraordinary efforts to break away from established church design conventions and to incorporate nature into the construction, speak of his ambitious vision. The building’s structure is resoundingly unique, symbolic, and multifaceted, with each element being thoughtfully constructed and almost like a work of art. It’s no wonder the church is still unfinished.

Controversy

In recent years, the Sagrada Família has been criticised by some people due to its lengthy construction time and the amount of tourist revenue it receives. While the project is publicly funded, it is still considered by some to be a moneymaking endeavour. In response to these criticisms, the Fundación have stated that the revenue used on maintaining the building and its works is entirely justified.

Despite the criticism, the church has also seen support from many, who believe that the Sagrada Família is an iconic work of religious architecture worth preserving. Professor Lopes da Silva stresses that “the foundation understands the incredible value of having such a magnificent space of worship to devote worshippers, tourists and citizens, and that by providing other activities, it is possible to reap economic returns without losing sight of the core mission of the Sagrada Família.”

Construction Status

Roughly 70 percent of the building has been completed to date; however, there are still various aspects of the Sagrada Família that need to be finished. These aspects include the remaining spires, the four facades, the crypt and the apse, which is where the altar will be located. It is expected that the building’s shell, that is, the external walls and spires, will be finished by 2026 to commemorate what would have been Gaudi’s 150th birthday, with an estimated completion date of the project being mid-2030’s.

The Fundación announced in 2020 that it has now “achieved 70 percent of the necessary funding to complete the Sagrada Família.” This good news is certainly a step closer to finishing the project and the Fundación is still determined to raise the remaining funds needed to complete the magnificent church.

Impact

The Sagrada Família’s significance extends far beyond its impressive architecture. As the longest running construction project in Europe, it has been a source of both inspiration and controversy. It has been the subject of numerous films, documentaries, and books, and it is emblematic of the Barcelona’s culture and heritage. Its impact can be seen in cities around the world, with master planners and architects trying to replicate Gaudi’s innovative and captivating designs.

One example of the Sagrada Família’s influence is the Hadid Towers in Dubai, designed by famed architect Zaha Hadid. The towers are inspired by Gaudi’s work, with curved walls and complex stonework reminiscent of the Sagrada Família. While they are unlikely to experience the same level of notoriety as their predecessor, they serve as a testament to Gaudi’s genius and influence.

When the Sagrada Família is eventually finished, it will be the longest-running building project in history, having taken almost 150 years to complete. Although this is a long time to wait for a finished product, it’s likely that the wait and effort will have been worth it. After all, the Sagrada Família is an eternal masterpiece, a building that will live on in the hearts and minds of people throughout the world.

Herman Shaw is a passionate traveler and avid photographer who has seen many of the world's most awe-inspiring monuments. He has developed expertise in various aspects of world architecture and culture which he enjoys sharing with his readers. With deep historical knowledge and insight, Herman's writing brings life to these remarkable artifacts and highlights their importance in the grand scheme of human history.

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