Barcelona’s Basilica Battle

La Sagrada Familia is one of the most famous religious structures in all of the world. Alomost every visitor to Barcelona makes a pilgrimage to this extraordinary church. The last time that I was in the city I went once during the day and once at night. But the stunning basilica is not without controversy.

Construction of La Sagrada Família began in 1882 according to the plans of the initial architect of the project, Francisco de Paula del Villar. In 1883, architect Antoni Gaudí took over the project and changed the design of the structure entirely and dramatically. Gaudí exclusively worked on La Sagrada Família from 1914 until his death in 1926. Many architects have worked on the construction of the church since then, following Gaudí’s detailed drawings.


Last year, two of the towers were finally completed and two more are scheduled to be finished by the end of 2023. The central tower of the basilica, the Tower of Jesus, is expected to be completed in 2026. This will mark the end of the construction of the basilica.

However, now a contentious argument has emerged over the city’s plan to create a new entrance for the basilica. It’d be an enormous staircase that goes over the street in front of the church – and it would require razing the 3,000-resident apartment across the street.

As you might expect, local residents are not pleased, so they’re suing the city to stop the construction. The Barcelona municipal government and the neighborhood residents are embroiled in an originalist argument over whether the architect even intended to have such a grand entrance.

Increasingly desperate residents are hopeful that they can save their homes by arguing that the elaborate Glory facade was not even part of Gaudí’s original plans. Their argument, which has formed the basis for a lawsuit filed against the city council, hinges on the fact that a fire destroyed the architect’s original papers. Gaudí’s intentions have been pieced together and inferred from surviving photos, preliminary sketches and the claims of his assistants, and the Glory facade’s staircase is one of the more contentious elements of this reconstruction.

The website artnet recently took a deep dive into the controversy. if you have been part of the throng of nearly 5 million annual visitors to the church, or if you hope to see it in person someday, the article makes an interesting read. Check it out here.



This entry was posted in Architecture, Europe, History, Tourism and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Barcelona’s Basilica Battle

  1. An interesting read. Thanks.

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