The construction of the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, started in 1882, and it is still not finished. Some parts that are already complete, need to be restored already.
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They expect to finish the basilica n 2026. Whether this is feasible or not depends on the amount of visitors that donate money. La Sagrada Familia is called a “conciliation church”, and must therefore be paid exclusively from donations. In the 80s, the admission of the church increased, so that extra money can be spent on the construction. Although the church has not been finished yet, it already was consecrated on November 7, 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI.
It all started with the bookseller, Josep María Boca Bella. In 1866 he founded the Spiritual Association of Devotees of Saint Joseph. After receiving many donations he bought a plot of land of 12,800 square meters. Francisco de Paula del Villar offered to make plans for this church, without any cost. In 1882 the construction of the church began, which was designed by del Villar, but del Villar and his client got into a quarrel, causing del Villar to be fired. In 1885 Gaudí was commissioned, and he had quickly came with his own ideas for the church.
Gaudí wanted to be in total control, so he led his own craftsmen, and he kept a sharp eye on all the details. He kept changing the design, and in the end, the style could not be called Gothic anymore. All the passion, and love of architecture, and art from Gaudi can be found in this church. It was his biggest project ever and he was sucked into it all. After 1914, he devoted his last years of his life to this project, and did not take on any other project. Some argue that he even lived some time on the construction site.
On June 7, 1926, we unfortunately lost this great architect and artist. When Gaudí traveled to the Sagrada Familia to get to work on the church, he was hit by a tram. Gaudí was always very austerely clothed and some people saw him as a poor man. As a result, no one had realized that he was the artist, who designed the church, so the taxis did not bring him to the hospital. The employees knew something was wrong when he did not show up at the Sagrada Familia. They later found Gaudí in a simple Hospices. He refused to go to a clinic, because he felt he belonged among the poor. Antoni Gaudí died three days later at the age of 73. He was buried in the crypt of the Sagrada Familia.
When Gaudí was alive he had some designs, models and drawings made which were used by his successors as a guide. In 1936, however, there was a fire during the Spanish Civil War, where all his drawings, models and designs were lost. The designers had to make do with their memories and the remnants of the fire. As a result you will see a clear difference between the new parts of walls and the ancient façade parts of the church (east facade).
A considerable part of the church must still be built and people wonder how it is going to look after all these years. There will be a celebration tower, which has to be built exactly in the middle of the intersection of a state church. This celebration tower will be 170 meters high and will be surrounded by four smaller towers. The central tower will be nearly as high as the Montjuïc, the highest hill in Barcelona. Gaudi wanted the church deliberately not as high as the Montjuïc, out of respect for the Creator.
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