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Sagrada Familia basilica to be completed in 2026, foundation says

People walk near the Basilica of the Holy Family, or Sagrada Familia, in Barcelona, Spain, Oct. 11, 2017. After more than a century, construction of the basilica will be completed in 2026, the foundation overseeing the project announced March 20, 2024. (OSV News photo/Ivan Alvarado, Reuters)

(OSV News) — After more than a century, construction of Spain’s Basilica of the Holy Family in Barcelona, known as Sagrada Familia for its Spanish name, will be completed in 2026, the foundation overseeing the project announced.

During a March 20 press conference announcing the publication of the Sagrada Familia Foundation’s 2023 annual report, Esteve Camps, the foundation’s executive chairman, said construction of the basilica’s Chapel of the Assumption will be completed in 2025, while the tower of Jesus Christ is set to be finished in 2026.

The completion of the basilica in 2026 will coincide with the 100th anniversary of the death of its designer, Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí.

Construction of the sacred edifice began in 1882, and it is considered the masterpiece of Gaudí, a Catholic whose cause for sainthood is underway.

However, doubts emerged whether the church would be completed in time for the 100th anniversary of Gaudí’s death (June 10, 2026,) after construction was halted in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Work on the basilica resumed two years later.

At the press conference, Camps said that the basilica welcomed more than 4.7 million pilgrims in 2023. The majority of the pilgrims who visited came from the United States, accounting for 19% of the total number, he noted.

While the main building will be finally completed in 2026, work will continue until 2034 on statues and other areas of the basilica, including a stairway leading to the main entrance that has drawn the ire of local residents.

According to Catalan News, plans to build a 197-foot stairway at the entrance involve the demolition of several buildings and the eviction of 3,000 people living near the basilica.

Salvador Barroso, president of the Asociación de Afectados por la Sagrada Familia (Association of People Affected by the Holy Family), argued that he and other residents will be kicked out of their homes for a stairway that allegedly was not included in Gaudí’s original plans.

Experts say that many of the Catalan architect’s original designs for the basilica were destroyed during the Spanish Civil War, thus prompting debates about whether the staircase was originally included in the plans.

The stairs, Barroso told Catalan News, “are not Gaudí’s and they were designed later by his disciples to have an excuse to ask for donations.”

Supporters, however, argue that the stairway was part of the original plan, citing an article published in 1907 by La Veu de Catalunya newspaper, which states that Gaudí designed “a bridge over the street finishing with two big stairways.”

The Guardian reported that at the press conference, Camps said the foundation is “following Gaudí’s plan to the letter” and that the “plan presented to the local authority in 1915, which was signed by Gaudí, includes the stairway.”

The foundation, he added, were in talks with Mayor Jaume Collboni of Barcelona regarding the planned stairway and awaiting final approval.

“I don’t have a crystal ball to tell me when they will make a decision,” Camps said.

Junno Arocho Esteves writes for OSV News from Rome.

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