The Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, more commonly known simply as the Sagrada Família, has been under construction in Barcelona since 1882, but now completion of the church is finally in sight. As this video from the Basilica’s YouTube page illustrates, the six final towers are set to be completed by 2026, timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the death of Antoni Gaudí, the Catalan architect who devoted much of his life to the design and construction of the building. These six towers, representing the Virgin Mary, the four evangelists, and Jesus Christ, will be the last and tallest of 18 spires on the church, and will make the Sagrada Família the tallest church building in the world.
Gaudí began his work on the Sagrada Família in 1883, after the original architect resigned in a disagreement with the church’s benefactors. He was almost single-mindedly focused on the Sagrada Família, devoting himself entirely to the project after 1915, and even living on the construction site starting in 1925, but when he died in 1926 the building was no more than 25% complete. Construction continued slowly after Gaudí’s death, interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, and dependent on outside donations for funding. However, recent technological innovations have greatly accelerated the construction, with CNC milling and 3D printing replacing the time consuming hand-carving techniques that dominated for over a century. With much of the interior work completed, Sagrada Família was officially consecrated as a place of worship in 2010, by Pope Benedict XVI.
But the six main towers are not the only portions of the building yet to be completed. As shown in the video below, posted in 2013, work also continues on the so-called “Glory Façade,” the last, and most ambitious of the three monumental facades. In the nine decades since Gaudí’s death, there have been numerous architects and builders who have carried on the construction, and no shortage of controversy over the interpretation of Gaudí’s design, but the building of the Sagrada Família marks the continuation of the tradition of Gothic cathedral builders, teams of artisans, working across generations, and even centuries, to achieve these architectural feats.