Why Is La Sagrada Familia Not Finished


Antoni Gaudi first began work on La Sagrada Familia in 1882, making it one of the oldest, still unfinished construction projects in the world. Gaudi worked on it until his death in 1926, leaving behind a few incomplete sculptures, some models of his designs, and a detailed plan. The construction process was taken over by different architects who continued to work on it in Gaudi’s absence.
Since then, the project has encountered numerous delays, such as the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s and World War II in the 1940s. In 1936, the construction site was bombed, causing extensive damage to both the structure and Gaudi’s original design. There have also been a number of financial difficulties. Construction has been funded almost exclusively by donations from private individuals and corporations, making it impossible to speed up the process.
Furthermore, in the 1970s, La Sagrada Familia was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This allowed for the protection and preservation of the structure, but also meant that some changes had to be made to the building’s design in order to meet the criteria for heritage status.

Attempts at Completion

Since Gaudi’s death, a number of architects have taken on the challenge of completing his work. In 1979, renowned Spanish architect, Jordi Bonet, was asked to oversee the project. Bonet made some changes to the design, including the addition of an underground crypt and an open-air plaza. However, after a few years, Bonet was replaced by another architect, Jordi Fauli, who aimed to finish the cathedral’s construction by 2026, which would mark the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death.
Fauli, who had served as an apprentice to Gaudi himself, is taking a, “Gaudi-like approach” to the construction. He is attempting to maintain Gaudi’s original concepts and designs, but is also making use of modern technologies and techniques.
In 2012, the foundation in charge of the construction added a new layer of complexity to the making a model of the church. Called “The Nativity Façade”, the model is a comprehensive system made up of 555 pieces, each representing one of the pieces of the originals model. The foundation has also commissioned new sculptures to replace those that were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War.


The construction of La Sagrada Familia is said to be nearly two-thirds complete. However, when analysing the structure more closely, it can be determined that most of what has been built thus far are the foundation, the lower parts of the walls, and some of the features of the façade.
In recent years, the foundation has made the most progress on the Nativity Façade, working on carving the sculptures, painting the walls and columns, and adding the finishing touches to the façade. They are also in the process of building the central tower, or “Gloria”, which stands at 172 metres tall.


The slow progress of La Sagrada Familia has been criticised by many, including Gaudi’s former biographer, Juan Bassegoda, who said the project was, “an abuse to Antoni Gaudi’s spirit.” Bassegoda argued that the cathedral should have been finished within the first few decades are Gaudi’s death, as he had already planned out much of the project.
Others have also expressed their concern that the building has gone too far off track from Gaudi’s original vision, claiming that the new building no longer truly represents the master’s work. For instance, Gaudi was known to only use natural elements such as stone and iron, while the new architects are using modern techniques and materials that he may not have approved of.

Reasons for the Delay

There are a variety of factors that have contributed to the delay in completing La Sagrada Familia, one of the most important being the lack of funds. As construction has been funded almost exclusively by donations from private individuals and corporations, it has been impossible to speed up the process.
Another issue has been the difficulty of replacing Gaudi’s original work. Gaudi spent much of his time obsessively perfecting the details, and attempting to recreate his work has proven to be an arduous and painstaking process. Furthermore, some materials he used are no longer available, and the original techniques he employed are no longer in use.
Finally, the complex and ambitious design of the structure has caused problems throughout the process. The cathedral is based on unusually complex foundations and incredibly thin walls, and piecing together each individual part in a unified way has posed a challenge to the teams of architects and engineers involved.

Local Impact

The completion of La Sagrada Familia is one of the most anticipated events in the city of Barcelona. Since the structure is symbolic of Barcelona’s identity and culture, many citizens look forward to the day it is finished.
The tourist industry in the city is also hoping for the completion of the cathedral as it is a major tourist attraction and will increase the economy. Currently, the queues to enter are extremely long and the city is hoping that the completion of La Sagrada Familia will help relieve this congestion.

Environmental Impact

The use of modern and advanced materials and technologies in the construction process has resulted in a certain amount of environmental damage. The concrete and steel used during the process are not eco-friendly, and the exhaust fumes from the machines and vehicles used to transport the material is damaging the air quality of Barcelona.
The foundation in charge of La Sagrada Familia is also using a large amount of water in the construction process, which has caused a strain on the resources of the local community. Furthermore, the foundation does not have a plan for disposing the waste or for protecting the environment, leaving citizens to worry about the future of the city’s air and water quality.

Cost and Timeframe

The cost of the construction of La Sagrada Familia is estimated to be around €360 million, which is funded mainly through donations from private individuals and corporations.
Officials hope that the structure will be finished by 2026, as it will mark the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death. However, it is possible that the project may be delayed again, as the construction site has faced numerous issues throughout its history.

Conclusion of the Project

Even though La Sagrada Familia is one of the oldest, still unfinished construction projects in the world, it is clear that it is still possible to complete the cathedral. However, with the many issues facing the construction site, such as financial and environmental concerns, it is difficult to say precisely when the project will be finished.
Still, the officials involved in the project are determined to finish La Sagrada Familia, as well as to maintain the original plans and design of Gaudi. With the help of modern materials and technologies, and the dedication of the experts in charge, there is hope that the project will eventually be successful in recreating Gaudi’s masterpiece.

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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